As we have seen,forms a passage that presents certain difficulties rising from Samuel’s command to Saul. This command having been dealt with and these difficulties having been explained and thereby removed, let us take up the thread of the narrative, where we broke off.
Saul had been anointed and charged by Samuel in secret. In addition, the unbelieving king had been provided with a mass of indisputable evidence that Samuel truly was God’s prophet and that therefore in him, men, and in particular the king, verily had to do with God.
We now come to the section in. Here is related the public election of Saul by the lot of God in the congregation of Israel. It took place in Mizpeh, where Samuel had called together the people unto the Lord for that purpose. It is not correct to say, as some do say, that “here the human factor appears in cooperation with the divine” with Samuel as the intermediator. Firstly, the Lord alone through the lot, directed attention to the man of His choice. The text reads here, “And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken. . . .” This phraseology implies the use of the lot. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” ( ). Today, the Lord directs attention to the man of His choice through the agency of the congregation. For the church has attained to spiritual majority. Samuel was active in anointing Saul (in secret), in charging him, in casting the lot in the presence of the congregation, and later in inducting Saul into his office by appropriate ceremonies. The people were active in approbating the Lord’s choice. But these actions certainly made Samuel and the people no factors, cooperating with the Lord. The fallacy of this view is evident when considered in the light of the consideration that Samuel and believing Israel, apart from Christ’s grace were fallen men, undone, and lost sinners, that thus as willing servants they were the Lord’s workmanship, through whom He accomplished His work. The sole factor here was the Lord. And so, of course, it ever is.
It was the Lord who chose for Israel a king, raised him up, commanded, qualified and sustained him. The king was God’s gift to the people. To God alone he was responsible and according to God’s word he must reign. His authority was solely God’s. Israel’s government was not of the people; it was of the Lord.
Saul could have been introduced to the nation as the man of God’s choice by secret calling and anointing. But such was not the Lord’s will. What had been done in secret had to be verified by a transaction witnessed by the whole nation, in order that there might be no excuse for the doubt that Israel’s government, as to the form that it was now made to assume, was truly of God and that the king who sat in the throne was the man of God’s choice indeed. There was need of both callings—the secret and the public. Saul himself had need of it. There was now time for the amazement that rose from his consideration that he had been selected for the throne to spend its force in his soul. And there was also time for Samuel to charge him and to provide him with the evidence that he was truly called of God and that in Samuel he verily had to do with the Lord.
Though prepared for his public election, when it finally did take place, Saul was not surprised—that were impossible—but terrified. When the people sought him, he could not be found. They learned from the Lord that he had hidden himself among the baggage. And they ran and fetched him thence. Forcibly, against his will, he was brought into the limelight. And there he stood, in his extreme confusion of soul, towering head and shoulders above all the people. All eyes were upon him now. For Samuel had said, “See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people.” And the people shouted, “God save the king.” But Saul heard as not hearing. It can be explained. A Benjamite, and one whose family was the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin, was elevated to the throne. Saul’s impact with the reality of the thing, filled his soul with dread. For being as he was devoid of true faith, he could not in that hour make God his expectation. He could only lean on self, which he did. And therefore he must needs be afraid. The only confidence he knew of, was confidence in self. And now as in every crisis it forsook him. And the result was that he hid himself among the stuff. That was no indication of true humbleness but of the fear of a man who was wont to put his trust in the arm of flesh, forsaken in his own mind of flesh.
Before Samuel cast the lot, he again chided the people for wanting a king in the room of the Lord, his purpose being to bring them, instrumentally, to repentance. True, he was about to hearken unto their voice. So the Lord had commanded. It was His will that a king be set over them. So He had decreed. Samuel must hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they had said to him. But the people might not be allowed to conclude therefrom that they had not sinned, and that the Lord had put Samuel in the wrong. They had sinned. And their only salvation lay in the way of their repenting and in their vowing that with their king they would serve the Lord. He told them that their reason for the request that a king be set over them, was not valid, did not exist. They wanted a king to deliver them from the oppressions of foreign dominions. But as Israel history loudly testified, the Lord stood ready to do that for them, would they only forsake their abominations and serve their redeemer God. But that precisely is what they refused to do—be saved by Jehovah in the way of repentance and return to Him. For they were carnal men.
Samuel told them so. Said he to them, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you. And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversaries and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us.”
But the people on this occasion refused to confess their great sin. They hardened their hearts. Samuel therefore proceeded with the election.