19. From Sovereign God to Earthly Kings

After enjoying God as their King, Israel makes the worst, most appalling and irrecoverable mistake. They demand a king and as usual, reject God outright.


Read 1 Samuel 3-17

  • Israel demands a King
  • Saul has:
    • A jump start with the Holy Spirit
    • A poor finish with an evil spirit
  • David honoured
  • David’s success factors

Israel Demands a King

For centuries, God is the reigning king of Israel, choosing priests to officiate on his behalf and communicate His message to the people. As the priestly clan of Eli is washed away, the people of Israel demand a king, just like other nations.

I Samuel 8:6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

Israel Demands a King

God reminds Samuel that Israel’s attitude of rejection has been prevalent right from the beginning. I Samuel 8:8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

Saul – Chosen by God

God, with His Father’s heart even helps Israel to find the best person available to be their king. 1 Samuel 10:23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Saul Among the Prophets?

God fills Saul with His Spirit. 1 Samuel 10:As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying.

Saul – Rejected by God

Gradually, Saul take His position and successes that God gave him, into his head. He steps over the line and disobeys God’s commands.

1 Samuel 13: 13“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Saul’s Face Saver

When confronted by Samuel and told that God will take away the kingdom from him, there is no sign of repentance. He seems to be more concerned about saving face before his people.

1 Samuel 15:30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.

Samuel Mourns for Saul

Saul has led Israel to victory a number of times with God’s hand on him. But as his allegiance has slipped away, God has to move him out. 1 Samuel 15:34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Saul Seeks a Medium

Having lost his connect with God, Saul seeks a medium to conjure Samuel up to foretell his future. His end is prophecied. 1 Samuel 28:Saul took one look at the Philistine army and started shaking with fear.So he asked the Lord what to do. But the Lord would not answer, either in a dream or by a priest or a prophet. Then Saul told his officers, “Find me a woman who can talk to the spirits of the dead. I’ll go to her and find out what’s going to happen.”

Both Saul and David had humble beginnings. Saul sought man’s favour (I Samuel 15:30) – God removed his spirit (I Samuel 16:1) David sought God’s favour - God’s spirit came mightily upon him (I Samuel 16:13).

David Honoured

Even while Saul is king, God anoints David as the next king in a private ceremony led by Samuel. David is first brought to us in the Bible in a brilliant, dramatic way.  He is introduced to us in the Bible with a huge head start as he singlehandedly, with God defeats Goliath, causing panic in the Philistine army. We see him:

  • Honoured by God
  • Honoured by the King
  • Honoured by the people

Honoured by God

No one, not even the prophet Samuel or David’s father Jesse, anticipated the choice of young David as future king. God’s choices go deep into the heart. I Samuel 16:7

“For man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart”.


Read 1 Samuel 16 v. 1-14, 21-23

  1. What qualities did Samuel and Jesse look for in their choice of a King?
  2. What did Jesse think of David?

Honoured by God

  • Read II Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
  • Even today, God is looking for someone to anoint.
  • Does God’s opinion of us or man’s opinion of us disturb us more. How do we see people?


The Lord is with him 1 Sam 16 v 18

1.What are some of the qualities David possesses now? V. 18

2.What does that show about the work of the spirit?

3.How do you view this as part of God’s plan?

King Saul, frequently possessed by an evil Spirit needs David to play his Spirit filled music to get peace. 

The Spirit of God in a person can influence the most heathen rebel. The Spirit of God in our lives can drive out the evil spirit in others

Honoured by the King

Read I Samuel 16:14-23

  • 1 Samuel 18:5 Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.


Honoured by the People

1 Samuel 18: When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:

Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”


David’s experience of God was restricted to “those few sheep in the wilderness” (1 Samuel 17:28).  That was what his brothers sarcastically reminded him of. Now he was facing a whole army. But it did not matter to him. Even while taking care of the sheep God helped him attack a bear and lion. He had already experienced God’s power.

Read 1 Samuel 17:22-33

1. What are the possible reasons why David’s heart could have failed?

2. Instead, what  response did he show? 1 Samuel 17:32-37



David’s Key Success Factors

David demonstrates:

  • A single mind – he was highly focussed, nothing could deter him, not even the taunts of his brothers or the size of the giant.
  • A single motive – so passionate for God, he steps forward to defent His name. 2 Samuel 17:46 “that the whole world may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Augustine’s father,  told him, “Be great”. His mother told him “Be good”.  He said I will be both. After years of folly he resolved to be good. He is still remembered as one of the world’s greatest saints.

What a contrast from Lord Clive who while being cheered by the nation for his success shot himself through his head.

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