Have you ever been part of an event that is meant to follow certain decorum, in which someone or something went off script? This year’s Academy Awards had a moment that no one planned for, when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidently announced the wrong movie for best picture. What followed was a fairly chaotic scene of people trying to re-gain composure, after an unexpected turn. Not even at the Oscars do they plan for scripted moments to go off script.
Of all the moments that are supposed to follow a script and honor certain standards of decorum, the coronation of a king is certainly at the top of the list. But in Israel, the very first coronation for their very first king threw all of that out the window. Instead of an upbeat message about the future of Israel, Samuel opens the service with a scathing rebuke! Then Saul is selected in a way that would bring back memories of God’s judgment (compare 1 Samuel 10:20-21 to Joshua 7:16-18). Finally, the king himself is nowhere to be found! Eventually they find him hiding among the baggage.
Imagine if this kind of confusion accompanied the coronation of the Queen of England or the inauguration of the President of the United States. It would set a dark and ominous tone not easily forgotten. That is exactly the point in 1 Samuel 10:17-27. God is reminding Israel that having a king like the nations have is not going to provide the hope and security they are looking for. That can only be found in Him. And Israel’s future will only be bright when they are trusting in Him, not an earthly king.
Take some time this week to read through this second half of 1 Samuel 10. What do we learn about God’s design for kingship in Israel? How is this design corrupted through Saul? How is it fulfilled ultimately in Christ? How does that help us as we seek to live faithfully and make a difference for God’s Kingdom in this world?