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Friday, 4 April 2014

Everything seems hopeless 1 Chronicles 10:1-14

 Parallel passage1 Samuel 31
So far 1 Chronicles seems to have been a series of endless genealogies. To us they might seem to be of little use but to the Israelites they are of great importance. It was important for them to know the family and tribe that they came from because their inheritance of land etc. was tied up with their own people group. We have recently seen on the television some celebrities searching their family tree to see what their roots are. Most of them are shocked and surprised as to what stock they came from. To the Israelites there were no shocks because they knew their background right back to Jacob; the father of their nation. They would know which tribe that they came from and where geographically they belonged.
From the genealogies we discovered last time that there was a ray of hope in dark days, Jabez is featured as a man of prayer in chapter 3 but there is not much hope in the rest of the account. Another thing that we discover is that the king comes from the wrong family line. Saul was a Benjamite but God’s promised king was to be from the line of Judah. See Genesis 49: 8-12; Jacob blessed Judah and by God’s authority prophesied that the future king (and also Messiah) would be a descendant of Judah.
 Therefore something had gone wrong!

Question 1

Why had Saul become king of Israel if it was never God’s intention?

The people had observed the other nations having kings and they wanted to be like them. They did not want to recognise God’s authority over them through His men who were appointed as judges or rulers.
Even though God had previously promised that they would one day have a king to rule over them (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20), they were impatient and demanded a king before time.

Question 2

What kind of king was Saul?
He was just what the people wanted; he was just like the kings of the nations around them. He was head and shoulders above every other man, quite impressive in stature; powerful but more importantly he was ungodly. He had a form of religion but he was never counted as a friend of God. He was in fact just what God said that he would be; see 1 Samuel 8: 10-19.
Saul was a false start for the kingship of Israel.

God had promised a king for the people and also that the king would come from the tribe of Judah. Due to the people’s impatience God had allowed them to have what they were asking for. Consequently they had to pay the penalty by living under the authority of a man who did not really care for the things of God or even the people of God.

There is an important lesson for us to learn. We often demand things from God that are not in His will for us. God is likely to give us just what we ask for even if it will end up to our detriment. As it was for Israel we will then have to live with the consequences of our actions, but we will not be able to blame God! Israel suffered because they asked for a king like Saul. We suffer because God grants some of the things that we demand of Him!

For most of Saul’s reign as king of Israel; God’s man was waiting on the sideline. God had revealed to Samuel that David would be the true king of Israel. He had all of the qualifications that were required by God. He was not impressive to man but God knows the heart, (1Samuel 16:7) David was His man. If only the people had not “jumped the gun” then they would have been spared the difficulties that they brought upon themselves during Saul’s false start. The people were affected by their demands. Saul and his family were affected also and David had to be patient whilst he endured the reign of a bad king and also the threat of death by the king! Even though earlier on the people had recognised David’s qualities they had to wait for many years until he eventually succeeded Saul as king of Israel.

Question 3
In what ways was David different to Saul?
Saul was everything that we might expect of a king and David was something of an anti-type of king! He was Godly, young, small in comparison to Saul, sensitive, a poet and musician but God and the people loved him.

David was just the sort of person we would not naturally choose to be king; BUT God chose him!

Back to our passage:

Everything is hopeless!

As a boy I went to Woodlands Comprehensive School. When I first discovered that this was the senior school that I would be attending I was filled with horror. I was frightened because the school had an awful reputation for bullying and the unruly behaviour of its pupils. I was going to be the youngest pupil of the 1500 boys in the school and probably the smallest also. The initiation that I expected was for my head to be flushed down the toilet; I had every cause to be scared.
What I did not know at that time was Mr. Thompson had replaced the previous headmaster. The three days that we first years had been awarded was not merely to extend our holiday. It had been given in order that Mr. Thompson have time to “sort out” the school and make it a safe place for everybody but especially the new intake. Therefore instead of going into the worst school in Coventry it had overnight become the best place to go! Preparation was being made for my benefit that I knew nothing about. It was like this for Israel, they were going through traumatic times but God’s deliverer was at hand!

We often do not realize it but sometimes God is more at work for our good in difficult days than in days of ease.

Even though he was as big as he was the Philistines were not afraid of Saul or of his army. They were a powerful people and so they pursued and killed Saul’s sons leaving no chance to claim accession to the throne!  Saul himself was also shot and mortally wounded (as recorded in 1 Samuel 31) and he was clearly about to be caught by the enemy.

Verses 4-6
Saul was more afraid of what his enemy would do to him than he was to meet God! His servant refused to murder him but Saul willingly committed suicide with no mention of repentance or relationship with God!
He ignored the principle that it is for God alone to take life: discuss!

Verse 7-10
The king is dead; the nation is in turmoil and the enemy is delighted in it’s victory.
How can anything good come out of this?

Verse 11-12

A ray of hope: The people of Jabesh Gilead show that common decency has not been lost. They display their concern for the memory of the king by bravely going and collecting the remains of the royal family from enemy territory and giving them a decent burial.
When all seems lost there are those who can and will do the right and decent thing. We should never be surprised when Godly men and women come out of the woodwork in order to do works of service.

 Verse 13-14
All is not lost: The writer of 1 Chronicles then reminds us of Saul’s history. It would be easy at this point to forget that Saul had not only been a tyrant to the people but that he had also been an ungodly king. Therefore the writer reminds us of some of the disappointing exploits of Saul.
He was:
  • Unfaithful to Yahweh.
  • Disobedient to the word of God.
  • More interested in the words of the devil (spiritism) than he was of God’s word.
  • Not a man of prayer; he did not inquire of Yahweh.
Therefore God took his life. When we read it in this context we cannot disagree with God’s judgement. The result of this is that at last God’s man David becomes king. The saddest point of the story is that if the people had never made demands of God then this long period of history (40 years) would never have happened.

We go through periods in the wilderness when we are disobedient to God’s set purpose and will for us. But Now David is king and God is about to restore the fortunes of Israel under his Godly command!

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