The King They Asked For

Heroes and Villains: The Rise and Fall of Saul  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a great privilege to share the Word of God on this wonderful Easter morning.
You may have found it strange that we read through 1 Samuel 8 a few moments ago. You probably thought, “Pastor, this is Easter! I came to hear about Jesus.” Well do not fret, we will certainly be remembering the story of the resurrection this morning. But before we get there, I want to provide you with two foundational truths that help us better understand and frame the Easter story.

1. Easter was a long time coming.

The events we are looking at in 1 Samuel 8 this morning took place some 1000 years prior to what we think of as the Easter story. But the Easter story finds its beginnings another 3000 years before that! The Easter story directly ties back to the garden of Eden! Allow me to sum up that story for us. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He said Let there be light and there was light. He said let there be plants and there were plants. So on and so forth, for 6 days God created the foundations of everything we know in this universe. On that sixth day God created something special. He made man. We know that man was special because while God created an incredible amount of wonderful things, man is the only thing He created in His own image. This means that humanity is distinct from the rest of creation because we have been able to commune with God. He gave us mental, moral, and social faculties. He made humans as rational creatures, morality built into our being, and we have a desire of fellowship. At this point in History, God looked at Adam and Eve, His special creation and said, “This is very good!”
You’re probably thinking, “Pastor Brad this still doesn’t sound like Easter. Is this when God created the Easter Bunny or something?” But no, there are no egg laying, chocolate bunnies in the book of Genesis. Bear with me here. When you read through the first few chapters of Genesis you see that God had a very close and special relationship with His special creation, Adam and Eve. He walked with them in the garden. There was harmony in the world. God had just one rule for Adam and Eve. He told them, “Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
To make a long story short, one day Eve was approached by a serpent in the garden. That serpent was Satan. He convinced Eve to disregard the warning God gave them about the fruit and to take a bite. She obliged and Adam followed right after her. For the first time in the history of the universe, in that moment, mankind, Adam and Eve, sinned against God. They did something He commanded them not to do. They acted *AGAINST* God’s holy nature. That is what sin is. Falling short of the glory of God. And there were major consequences to our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinning against God. They would no longer walk with God in the garden every day. Their communion with God would be separated. That is, They experienced spiritual death. But they would also face physical consequences. There would be increased pain in childbirth. Working the ground would be much more strenuous and difficult. And Some day they would die a physical death.
So where does Easter come in? Well, When Adam and Eve were faced with the consequences of their sin, they weren’t the only ones cursed. God also addressed the Serpent, Satan. He said to the Serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” What that means is that God is promising Satan will be defeated. At some point in the future from this moment at the beginning of history, the snake crusher is coming. Eve is going to have children and they’ll have children and they’ll have children. And while they are going to be dealing with the temptation of Satan and the results of sin all around them, they can have faith in God knowing that He is going to send the deliverer in His perfect timing. Easter was a long time coming.
Hold on to that because we’re going to move on to a second foundational truth that helps us better understand the Easter story before we tie them both together at the end.

2. Humans are wretched creatures.

I know what you’re thinking, “who is this guy? I’m trying to have a nice Easter Sunday with my family and he’s up there calling me a wretched creature?!” Well just so you know, my first instinct was to simply say “Humans stink”, but I thought that might get me in trouble so I used a description from John Newton’s Amazing Grace. I thought that might make this foundational truth more palatable. What I’m getting at here is that though God made man, looked and said it was very good, ever since sin, since the fall, we’ve been really bad! The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Even the Scripture we recited during the earlier part of this service said ALL we like sheep have gone astray!
Humans are wretched creatures!
God in His great grace has continued to be there for and provide for wretched creature like you and me and Adam and Eve. Ever since He promised the snake crusher in the garden, He has been providing for a people and they have been holding tight to this promise. To zoom through the 3000 Years between Adam and Eve and where we’re picking up in 1 Samuel, you need to know that God has called a people to be His people. God did many great things for them. He delivered them out of slavery in Egypt. He provided them with food in the wilderness. He gave them His law as a guide to their society, to show them their need for Him, and also to point forward to the fulfillment of His promise to bring the snake crusher.
I’m really shortening the story here, but after traveling around in the Wilderness, Israel finally found a place to set up their country for the long term. The Israelites struggled to be faithful to the Lord and got themselves into trouble time and time again. God raised up Judges to rescue Israel. These were people who stepped up when the country was in need of political guidance. In the Bible, the book of Judges records the history that takes place right before where we are picking up in 1 Samuel. You could summarize the book as a cycle of Israel’s sin then rescue then worship then back to sin. Over and over again, the cycle continues. Despite everything God had done for His people they continued on in sin. They were wretched creatures who continued to serve themselves rather than the Lord.
Now, Flash Forward to 1 Samuel 8. If you haven’t already, turn there now. Samuel is known for being the last judge in Israel. We’ll see why that is here in a moment. Samuel was by all accounts a good Judge. Israel was at peace for most of his tenure. But his time serving is about up. We’re going to bounce through portions of this chapter and see more evidence of this second foundational truth, that humans, in our fallen state, are wretched creatures.
Begin with me in 1 Sam 8:1-3
1 Samuel 8:1–3 ESV
When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.
Here we have the first example human failure. I mentioned earlier that Samuel was a good judge. And he was! Israel was at peace when he was leading in that capacity. But we see the fall of man and wretchedness exposed here in two distinct ways.
Samuel became old! Remember the effects of the fall we looked at moments ago, physical death, aging, approaching the ends of our days are physical effects of the fall! Samuel was a good Judge and led Israel well, but his time would be coming to an end soon. That is why he installed his sons as lower magistrates in Beersheba. Samuel knew that his age was limiting his ability to lead so he set up his sons to share in the responsibility. But that leads to the second example of fallenness in these verse:
Samuel’s sons were wicked! They didn’t follow the example that Samuel set for them. They took bribes. They perverted justice. The whole point of the judge was to lead justly without partiality. Samuel’s sons were doing the opposite! And this is a pattern we see all throughout Scripture. The judge before Samuel was a man named Eli. He too had wicked sons that served as priests in Israel but they stole from the people and participated in heinous activities. While Eli surely had his faults, we see in these examples and then all throughout the rest of Scripture that the Faithfulness of our Fathers is a wonderful thing, but because of the fallen, wretchedness of man, it is not a guarantee that the next generation will follow in the paths of righteousness. Humans are wretched creatures!
The rest of Israel recognized the injustice of Samuel’s son and rightly did not want them to be in leadership positions. They go to Samuel, the judge, and ask for something different.
1 Samuel 8:5 ESV
and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
On the surface this seems like a very reasonable request. As a point of practical application, we SHOULD desire good leaders over bad leaders! The Israelites were not wrong to reject Samuel’s sons. They were likely afraid that they would return to the days of wickedness when Eli’s sons terrorized the people. The leaders of the land are supposed to uphold justice, and so it was a good thing to want to go a different direction.
It was not even a bad thing for the Israelites to request a more formal King as compared to the Judges they had for the previous centuries. In fact when God gave the Law to the Israelites to help guide their society hundreds of years before this, He also gave them guidance on how they should go about picking a king once they made it to the Land that He had promised them.
So the problem here is not their desire to have a King, there problem, and proving the wretchedness of humanity is threefold. 1. They wanted the wrong king. We’ll be explaining that all throughout this series for the next few weeks so I wont dwell there this morning. Secondly, they were forgetting that God is their King, which we’ll also get into more in a bit. And Third which we will park on for a little bit, they had the wrong motivation for getting a king. Look here at verse 5. They didn’t want a king so that they could have a more just and honorable government to honor their God. They didn’t want a king so that there would be a more centralized government that would be respected by the outside nations and give them an opportunity to show their God before the other nations that reject their God. They wanted a King so that they would look like the rest of the nations! They say appoint us a king to judge us like all the nations. All those other guys got one so we want one too! Even after seeing everything God did for them time and time after time, they said, That’s not good enough give us an earthly king. Their sinful hearts were guiding them in their desire to anoint a king. Once again. The wretchedness of humanity.
Samuel, being a prophet, took Israel’s request before the Lord, but he wasn’t happy abut it. If you read through the next few verses you can see that Samuel took Israel’s call for a king as a rejection of himself. But that’s what we wretched creatures do. We often try to make everything about ourselves. The glaze of sin in our eyes distorts reality so that we see things as an offense to us when we should be seeing everything through the lens of God. That’s where God draws Samuel’s attention. verse 7
1 Samuel 8:7–9 ESV
And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
Despite everything the Lord has done for the people of Israel, they still wanted more. Despite following the Lord’s pillar of smoke and fire in the wilderness. Despite the parting of red seas. Despite God afflicting the Philistines and bringing home the ark just a few years prior to this moment, the Israelites wanted to look like the rest of the world. They wanted a king. Once more and example of the wretchedness of man. But in their sin blinded state they didn’t know what they were really asking for.
I’ll paraphrase the next 9 verses of 1 Samuel 8. Samuel goes back to Israel and warns the people asking for a king about what will happen when they put a wretched, fallen creature as their king. Though having a king will make them look like the rest of the nations, it will have consequences. He warns that the king will be a demanding dictator. The king will get rich, but the people will suffer. They will be forced into involuntary military service and made to work the ways the king sees fit. The nation will be slave to the king. Then look at verse 18
1 Samuel 8:18 ESV
And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
You would think that such a solemn warning would be enough to dissuade the crowd from pursuing a king. But how many times do we ignore the warnings that are so evident. Jesus would say and the church would repeat for the next 2000 years, “Repent and believe for the kingdom of God is at hand!” Some here that warning and run to the Lord! Most hear it and runaway! When judgment comes, all will be without excuse. For those who do not head the warning, when calamity strikes and life is over, you may call out to the Lord but He will respond, “Depart from me you workers of lawlessness, I never knew you.” We’ve been warned!
But so were the Israelites in our text this morning. And how did they respond to the warning?
1 Samuel 8:19–20 ESV
But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
They doubled down on their desire to be like the rest of the world. Even though God had already delivered them and fought for them so many times, they wanted a wretched man to fight their battles for them. Humans are wretched creatures.
God gives the Israelites what they ask for. They get their king. We’re going to look at the first king of Israel for the next several week so I wont go into too much detail there this morning. But I will give you a bit of a spoiler: Things don’t end well. By the time we get to the Easter story about a thousand years of history have passed by. In that time 42 kings from Israel would reign, most of which doing evil and fulfilling what Samuel had warned the people about. The Israelites would also be captive to other nations. The nation would be taken captive by other nations. All the while the Israelites are being called back to their God, called to repentance and to trust in the promises God has given to them. And then all of sudden, there’s silence. The prophets stop speaking. Israel, bruised and dejected as a result of their rejection of the Lord is left to slog through existence while being ruled by other nations. In the Bible, this period is called the 400 years of silence. God was still working, but His people were not listening. One commentary said, “Those years blinded and deafened the nation to the point where most Jews could not even consider the concept of a humble Messiah.”
Then, after 400 years of silence, came the light in the darkness. A virgin named Mary would be found with child from the Holy Spirit! Not just any child but a Child who’s earthly lineage connected him to royal line of the Israelite kings! The Angel who told Mary about her child said, The Lord God will give him the Throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob! Further, His heavenly status and consummation proved Him to be holy—The Son of God! What an incredible thing to behold!
The royal Child would be born in the room where the animals were kept because there was no other room. The angels would appear to shepherds of all people and proclaim the Savior is born in the City of David! The child would grow and become strong filled with wisdom unmatched! When He got older He would be tempted in the wilderness much like Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden. Only this time, this Man, this God-Man would not give in! He said, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve!” Satan left and this deliverer, this Jesus, began His ministry. He called His disciples. He rebuked the wrongdoings going on in the temple. He healed the blind, the deaf, and lame, the weak. He walked on water. He calmed the storm. He turned water into wine and fed thousands of people with a little boys lunch. Even a touch of the hem of His garment healed a woman. He cast out demons. And did so many wonderful things that all the books in the world could not contain His wondrous deeds. Though He sought no notoriety, word spread throughout the area. The week of Passover something incredible happened. Jesus goes to Jerusalem, riding into town on the back of a borrowed donkey’s colt, one that had never been ridden before. Now to us here this morning it may not sound like much, but this was a fulfillment of Scripture written hundreds of years prior to this moment. Scripture said a King would be coming to town on this colt! This was a declaration that the King is here! And the Israelites were here for it! They spread there cloaks and palm branches on the ground for the colt to walk on top of.
Matthew 21:9 ESV
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Our King is here! They were proclaiming! What a joyous moment!
But remember the second foundational truth we have been discussing this morning: Humans are wretched creatures. The praise the people gave to Jesus came because they, much like their ancestors in 1 Samuel 8, thought that Jesus was the mighty King that would make them like the rest of the nations. They thought Jesus to be the messianic deliverer who would lead the revolt against Rome. But as the events of the next week unfolded this Jesus would fail to meet their expectations. Many in the crowd proclaiming Hosanna that Sunday were shouting Crucify Him just days later. “Those who hailed Him as a Hero would reject and abandon Jesus.” Humans are wretched creatures.
That Jesus would go on to die on the cross in front of His mother. His followers would mourn. His detractors would cheer. The ignorant would mock. Jesus, the one who was to reign over the house of Jacob, dead on a cross, scorned by the ones He came to save.
Humans are wretched creatures.
In our sinful state we often miss the forest for the trees. Adam and Eve ate the fruit because they wanted to be like God when they were already in perfect communion with God. The Israelites wanted to be ruled by a king when God was already fighting their battles. The displaced and conquered Jews wanted a king that would lead the revolt on Rome when they already had the Son of God standing in their midst. Even today, people today want to claim and shape a God that will serve their own wicked heart’s desire when the one true God is no respecter of persons and He in His Holiness is better than anything they could ever come up with.
Humans are wretched creature.
But this leads me to a third glorious truth to share with the congregation this morning.

3. The King Reigns, and the King is Good.

You see just as we talked about in the Garden of Eden, Easter was a long time coming. Satan and his temptation did not foil God’s plan. He promised the Snake crusher, the Savior in the Garden. The Israelites, in their sin, looked beyond the promises God had given them and wanted to place their hope in other gods at times and, in our story this morning, in a fallen person rather than the Holy God.
When God makes a promise He always keeps His word. Despite Israels wandering hearts, the messiah was coming! Despite the civic unrest and the exiles, the messiah was coming. Despite their misguided desire for a king to overthrow the roman empire, the true messiah was not just coming, He was there.
And despite His death on the cross, God is not defeated, the promised Savior arrived and everything unfolded exactly how God intended for it to go. The King reigns and the King is Good. Because though the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God was hanging dead on the cross, that is not the end of the story! Yes, He was taken from the cross, lifeless. Yes, He was placed in a tomb. Yes, a great stone was rolled over the face of the tomb and sealed shut. Yes, there were guards posted outside the tomb to make sure no one messed with it. Yes, all of His closest disciples were scattered and scared for their lives. Yes, everything seemed oh so dark that Friday and that Saturday. Yes, all seemed lost. But then.... but then… as the group sang earlier… but then came the morning! Then came the morning! Shadows vanished before the sun, Death had lost and life had won! For morning had come!
If we want to relate it to another hymn, Up from the grave He arose! With a mighty triumph over His foes!
What we are celebrating here this morning is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! This is a victory party! Death had no claim on Christ Jesus! And the wonderful thing about all those who believe in Jesus, who receive Him as Lord, who recognize Him not for the little king they want Him to be, but as the Majestic King He is, everyone, whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If you believe in Christ, you share in the victory He accomplished on the Cross.
Today, we’ve taken a quick survey through a lot of Scripture. As we come to a close, I want you to know that all of it, from Genesis to Revelation is about Him. All of it shows the glory of God to bring salvation and eternal life to wretched creature like you and I.
I know that living in the here and now can be scary at times. We can be tempted to put our hope in the political figures of our area. We look for immediate answers to our most pressing problems. When the stock market goes down, or the next scandal hits we want to find the answers on the nightly news. I want to suggest to you something better this morning.
Before the crucifixion, Jesus was interviewed Pilate, a Roman official. Pilate asked Jesus if Jesus was the king of the Jews. Look at Jesus’ response:
John 18:36 ESV
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Christ is KING. He Reigns, and He is good. But what we have to realize is that His kingdom is not of this world. The things of this life will come and pass, but Christ remains. The Israelites were looking for a king like the other nations. That’s not Christ. Jesus is not a king like all the other nations. He is above and beyond anything we could ever imagine. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
And that Great, powerful, superior king, lived died and rose again so that all who believe in Him would share in His victory! He invites us to reign along side Him! What goodness! What grace!

Three circles graphic

Receive Christ as King.
Let’s pray.
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