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PREFERRED MONARCHY TO REPUBLIC
SRAEL A THEOCRACY - HUMANLY A REPUBLIC - A KINGDOM PREFERRED - SAMUEL OFFENDED - THE REQUEST GRANTED - SAUL, SON OF KISH - HIS ANOINTING - CHOSEN BY LOT.
"Fear God, honor the king."--1 Peter 2:17.
ISRAEL'S government was a theocracy; that
is to say, God was their King; His Law
was their government. The elders of each
tribe supervised its affairs. God provided a
priestly tribe, which represented the religious
interests of the people. Prophets and
Judges were sent them from time to time as
special messengers of the Lord, but without
authority except as the people believed their
counsels to be wise. Thus Israel was, so
far as its earthly interests were concerned, a republic, in
covenant relationship with God.
No one will dispute that a republic is the highest
type of government. In a republic each citizen is a sovereign;
and these sovereigns, by their votes, appoint some
of their number to be their representatives and servants.
But this highest type of government can be thoroughly
appreciated only by intelligent people, and can work the
highest good only in the hands of intelligent and conscientious
people, submitted to the Divine regulations.
Had no fall occurred, undoubtedly this highest form
of human government would have prevailed. The Scriptures
indicate that after Messiah's Kingdom shall have
thoroughly subjugated sin, thoroughly uplifted humanity,
absolutely destroyed all the wilfully wicked, and shall have
completely brought the remainder of the race up to absolute
perfection, then, at the close of Messiah's Reign,
the earth to all eternity will be a republic, each member
of the race a sovereign.
Our lesson shows us that the Israelites did not appreciate
their Divinely arranged republic. They beheld
the splendor of the surrounding nations, and thought that
because they were different, it was to their disadvantage.
As a result of the noble reform instituted by Samuel
and maintained throughout his long judgeship, the people
were greatly blessed, and the national spirit was strengthened.
[R5637 : page 58] But they perceived that the Prophet was growing
old, and they feared that his sons would seek to succeed
and continue themselves as judges. The narrative tells
that they were unreliable--"walked not in his ways, but
turned aside after lucre, and perverted judgment."
A NATIONAL STEP BACKWARD
The elders of the tribes conferred together and believed
that it would be better to choose from amongst
themselves a king and thus become more like the nations
roundabout. They came to Samuel with the matter, as
children to a father, as wise men to a statesman of extraordinary
wisdom. They told him their desires. Samuel was
disappointed, but gave no answer to them until he had
time to confer with the Lord. The Lord bade him not be
offended--that it had not been he who was rejected, but
that the Lord had been rejected and His government.
But the Lord was willing to let them have their experiences
with kings; nevertheless, Samuel was instructed
to fully inform them what would be the consequences,
what would be the manners of the kings, what would be
the difficulties. He explained that their liberties would be
fewer--that the kings would exercise a more or less autocratic
power and would conscript their sons for servants
and for soldiers and for public works, and that thus their
liberties would be greatly abridged, the wealth of the
people would more or less flow into the coffers of the
king, and the best of their lands and of everything would
gradually pass into his control. Instead of being the sovereigns,
the people would be the slaves of the sovereign,
retaining at best only a portion of their rights, etc.
The people, however, had set their heart on having a
king. Already they were imagining how a king would lead
them forth and give them dignity, marshal their hosts,
and cause fear of them in the hearts of their enemies.
DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE ILLUSTRATED
At the appointed time, Samuel, apparently by Divine
arrangement, having received instructions from the Lord,
came in contact with the one who was to be the future
king--Saul, the son of Kish. The story reminds some of
witchcraft and other occult doings. A herd of asses
strayed from the farm of Kish, and Saul was sent to seek
them. After searching in vain, he and his servant called
upon the Prophet to ask his wisdom--that the Seer tell
them where the asses were. The answer was that the
asses were found, but that Saul was to come and dine
with the Prophet in an appointed place where guests had
already been invited, food already prepared, etc.
The place of honor was given to Saul; and the young
man, fresh from the country, was astounded to hear the
Prophet speak of him as being the choice of Israel for
their leader. He modestly called attention to the fact that
he belonged to an inferior tribe--a small one--the tribe
of Benjamin; and that his family was not even the greatest
in it. But the Prophet persisted, addressing him as
the one to have future honors.
The next morning he was called early and directed
respecting his journey in such a manner that he would
have corroborations of things that the Prophet intimated
in advance. He would meet certain people, and by some
he would be invited to partake of food, etc. Moreover,
he would meet with certain experiences which would
make of him a changed man. Meantime, as the two walked
together and Saul's servant went before, the Prophet
drew forth a vial of oil and poured it upon Saul's head,
anointing him to be the king of Israel by Divine appointment.
However, matters were kept secret until such time
as would be indicated.
Saul's faith in the Prophet's declaration was strengthened
by the fulfilment of the very experiences foretold.
Meeting a company of those who were styled a school of
prophets, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul and he
joined with them in their singing and prophesying. We
read, "God gave Saul another heart, and the Spirit of God
came upon Saul, and he prophesied."--1 Sam. 10:9,10.
DIFFERENT OPERATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We are to remember that the Spirit of God signifies
simply an invisible power from God. Those coming under
this power sometimes acted in one way and sometimes in
another--sometimes speaking, sometimes writing, as they
were moved by the Power of the Holy One, Jehovah. Let
us not forget the clean-cut distinction which the Bible
makes between the Holy Spirit in its operations upon men
before Pentecost and since. Since Pentecost, the impartation
of the Holy Spirit generally signifies that begetting
influence which the Lord gives to consecrated believers
in the Lord Jesus Christ, by which begetting and anointing
they are brought into the family of God as sons, and
are enabled to have discernment of mind to more and
more appreciate the mind of God as expressed in the Bible,
by the Prophets of the past.
But previously, the Holy Spirit simply signified a holy
energy, and meant no begetting to sonship; for, as the
Scriptures declare, the Holy Spirit (in this sense) was
not given until Jesus was glorified. (John 7:39.) Only
saintly persons, fully consecrated to God and fully trusting
in the merit of Jesus, are spirit-begotten now, but
any person might at times be used of the Lord as an
amanuensis to write, or as a servant to do or to say,
wherever, whenever, whatever, the Lord wished to have
said, done or written.
The Spirit which came upon Saul was not the Spirit of
sonship; the change of his heart did not signify that he
had become a New Creature in Christ; for there could be
none such until Christ, the Head of the Church, had come
and, as the Forerunner of His members, had opened up
"the new and living way." Saul had a new heart in the
sense that he no longer had the mind, purpose, "disposition,"
to be a farmer, but a Divine "disposition," will,
ambition, judgment and wisdom granted him, especially
qualifying him to the office to which God had chosen him;
namely, to be a statesman.
In other words, God's Holy Spirit, qualifying Saul for
his position as a king, was a mechanical one, much after
the same manner that we read that God qualified certain
workmen in preparing the Tabernacle. The Lord said to
Moses, Choose any workmen for this particular work, and
I will put My Spirit upon them, and thus qualify them
for the work to be done. We may be sure that if God
calls any man for any particular work, He is quite able to
qualify him for its performance, whether it be a religious
work, as is sometimes given to His consecrated people, or
whether it be for some work of public benefit, as for
instance, in modern inventions, which belong in this
dawning time of the New Dispensation.
EVIL OCCULT POWERS IN OPERATION
The difference between Samuel and his occult powers,
and the occult powers of others today is this: Samuel's
were manifested under Divine direction at a time when
God was pleased to use such powers amongst His people
Israel--powers which doubtless will be in exercise also to
some extent during the Millennial Age for the world's
guidance. But the Scriptures recognize evil occult influences;
and the Israelites were warned against necromancers,
those who claimed to have communion with the
dead, and those that peeped and muttered and had mediumship,
[R5637 : page 59]
The Bible explains that the fallen angels personate the
dead. The Bible tells that the dead are really dead, that
the dead know nothing whatever until the resurrection.
The Lord warned Israel that these evil spirits would seek
to personate the dead, and thus to indoctrinate them in
error and lead them away from God. Similarly, throughout
this Gospel Age, the same evil spirits, the same fallen
angels, have used, and do still use more or less of occult
power--psychic powers, mediumistic powers, mesmeric
powers, hypnotic powers--to mislead, to attract away from
the Truth, to make error appear to be Truth--especially
to make people believe their dead friends are not dead,
but more alive than before they died.
During this Gospel Age, we believe that God does not
use such hypnotic powers, but as St. Paul declares, He
has "spoken to us through His Son," and has given us His
Scriptures, "that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished
unto every good work"--not needing any occult
powers. Hence we know of no good occult powers,
but are to rate them all as deceptions of the Adversary,
against which God's people are fighting.
ISRAEL'S FIRST KING CHOSEN
In due time, in harmony with the will of the Judges of
Israel and with the Divine consent, the people came
together to Samuel to have the matter of a king amongst
them decided--to have the will of the Lord expressed in
the matter. Again Samuel expostulated with them, and
told them the dangers of leaving the simplicity of God's
arrangement and taking up with the monarchial arrangement.
But seeing that they still desired a king, he acted
for them and drew lots as respected the different tribes,
and then the different families in the chosen tribe, and
then the different members of the family indicated. The
lot fell on Saul as Samuel knew it would do and as Saul
also knew; for they believed the Lord's hand was in the
The fact that they used this method of casting lots
should not be considered as an endorsement of such a
method today; for we are living under different institutions;
and neither the Natural nor the Spiritual Israelites
are in that relationship with God in which He proposes to
guide their affairs by the casting of lots.
When the lot fell upon Saul, the elders of the various
tribes began to look for him. Where is he? Finally they
found him bashfully sitting amongst the stuff--the luggage
that belonged to the parties that had come to the gathering.
As he was brought forth, the young man in the
prime of life--probably seven feet tall, of athletic build--
he exactly filled the ideal of the people. They were pleased
with God's choice, and God had already qualified Saul that
he might be a successful king if he would prove loyal,
faithful and obedient to Him.