1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”
(1 Samuel 10:1-8)
In today’s passage, everything becomes clear to Saul as he finally gets his questions answered about his future as he is anointed by Samuel.
The word “anoint” means “to rub; to apply an oily liquid to”. Saul was physically anointed when Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head while explaining why he was going so.
In the Old Testament, one who was anointed was chosen by God for a specific task or role. The Hebrew word for “anointed” is מָשַׁח (pronounced: mashach) which is the root word for “Messiah”, meaning “anointed one”. Jesus was the Messiah – anointed (chosen) by God to be the one who paid for the sins of all mankind.
The physical act of anointing symbolized the power and presence of God coming upon an individual to enable that person to do the Lord’s work. When a person was anointed in the Old Testament they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus’ death, all believers did not receive the Holy Spirit as they do under the New Testament. The Holy Spirit was given only to specific people at specific times so that they could do what God specifically called them to do. Both people and things could be anointed [Exodus 28:41, 30:26; 2 Samuel 16:12 et. al].
Interestingly, Saul was not anointed to be king. Samuel tells Saul that he is being anointed to be prince over God’s people Israel; to be prince over His inheritance.
The Hebrew word for “prince” here is “נגיד” (pronounced: nagid) which means “captain; overseer”. Saul would oversee Israel, but he was not being given absolute power ro reign as he saw fit. He was to submit himself to the will of God. As we’ll see as we continue our study, Saul will not do this, leading to problems for many people and leading to his eventual downfall.
Nevertheless, Saul was God’s chosen leader and as such he deserved respect from the people. This was best expressed by David, when he was later being relentlessly pursued by Saul who was trying to kill him. David refused to harm Saul when he had the opportunity because Saul had been anointed by God [1 Samuel 24:6, 26:9-11, 23].
Leaders are not to lead people as if they owned them. God calls all leaders – in business, families, government, the church – to lead sacrificially, not for their own benefit but for the benefit of others. But even if they don’t we should not seek to destroy them.
Unfortunately in the United States at the current time, we have multiple people calling for our current president to be assassinated. This is unacceptable. It also goes against God’s commands.
All leadership has been chosen by God [Daniel 2:21; John 19:11; Romans 13:1]. No one has a leadership position that was not given to them by God. That does not mean, however, that all leaders are good. God sometimes choses bad leaders to show people that our trust should not be put in other human beings but in Him. This is exactly what God did with Saul.
God knew beforehand what kind of leader Saul would be and He even warned the people of Israel of this. But they ignored His warnings [1 Samuel 8].
Despite Saul’s poor leadership, it would have been wrong to forcibly remove him or kill him. Instead when we have a leader who we believe is doing a poor job, we should pray, acknowledging God’s sovereignty over us and our leaders [1 Timothy 2:2].
This is because God is our ultimate authority. He’s even in authority of those who don’t believe in Him or who flat-out reject His authority.
So regardless of what we think about a specific authority figure… the position of authority needs to be respected because it comes from God and symbolizes God [1 Peter 2:13].
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