V. 1,2 Samuel

A. General comments

1. Name
The name is taken from the person who is prominent in the 1st part of the lengthy narrative of 1,2 Samuel. It is Samuel who was God's instrument to anoint both Saul and David as the first kings in Israel.

It is clear that the book was not authored by Samuel since his death is recorded in 1 Sam 25:1. It is probable, however, that the author utilized material written by Samuel and other prophets concerning events with which they were familiar (cf. 1 Chron.29:29).

The material of 1,2 Samuel was originally a single unit. The division into two parts was done, as far as is known, by the translators of the LXX. The death of Saul, as that of Moses and Joshua was an appropriate place to put the division.

The title has varied being designated 1St and 2nd books of Kingdoms in the LXX and 1,2 Kings in the Vulgate. The designation as Samuel comes from Hebrew tradition.

2. A brief survey of content and its significance.

1,2 Samuel is placed between Judges and 1,2 Kings and treats the period of history that begins with the close of the period of the judges and ends shortly before David's death.

It is concerned with a period of about 130 years (ca 1100 - 970 BC).

The book does not bear the form of a detailed political history of this time, but rather is, for the most, part a collection of biographical stories pertaining to the leading figures of this period of history, i.e. Samuel, Saul and David.

That which binds the narratives together is the theme of kingship and covenant We find that:

a. Kingship as requested by the people was a denial of the covenant

b. Kingship as instituted by Samuel was consistent with the covenant

c. Kingship as practiced by Saul failed to correspond to the covenantal ideal

d. Kingship as practiced by David was an imperfect but true representation of the ideal of the covenantal king

The book as a whole can be divided into 3 distinct sections related to Samuel, Saul and David.

1 Samuel 1 12   Samuel

1 Samuel 13 31   Saul

2 Samuel 1 24   David

In the Hebrew Bible these sections take up respectively 17, 34, 45 pages. Notice David's section is by far the largest. This in itself is a indication that the author desires to highlight the reign of David.

B. Important advances in the history of redemption in 1,2 Samuel

1. Samuel records the provisional fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham concerning the extent of the promised land (everlasting possession: Gen 17:8; Ps 105:8 11).

This was one of the central elements of the covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:18 21) arid was confirmed in Gen 17:8; Num 34:1 12; Deut 1:7; 11:24; Josh 1:4, Ps. 105:8 11 . This was, it is true, initially fulfilled when Joshua entered the land (Joshua 11:23), but only partially (Joshua 13:1 6) and was not followed through to completion (Judges 1). The promise included borders from Egypt to the Euphrates. The realization of this came under David (2 Sam 8) who internally (Philistines) and externally extended Israel's sovereignty to these boundaries. Thus it could be said of Solomon (1 Kgs 4:21,24) that Israel controlled the territory that had been promised to Abraham.

So the seemingly mundane statements of 2 Samuel 8 that record David's conquests contain a great declaration to us. God is faithful. He will accomplish what he says. During the time of Samuel and Saul this appeared impossible  even unthinkable. But in the providence of God the great nations of the fertile crescent (Babylon, Elam, Assur, the Hittites) were brought to weakness, while in Israel the kingdom of David and Solomon grew to the extent promised to Abraham.

2. In 1 Samuel we have the record of the establishment of kingship in Israel and the association of anointing with kingship.

It is in the book of Samuel that the phrase "the anointed of the LORD comes to be used as synonymous with "king". The significance of this is seen when it is realized that "anointed" and "Messiah" are the translation and transliteration of the same Hebrew word  ((). . the Greek translation in both the NT and LXX for comes from the Greek root meaning to anoint. This term of course becomes Christ in our English versions.

The story of how Saul and David were anointed is clearly given in 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:13.

The "anointed of the LORD" as a designation for the king appears in 1 Sam 2:10; 24:10; 26:9; 2 Sam 1:14,16; 19:21; 22:51; 23:1.

The idea of kingship in Israel does not appear without previous expectation. It is first explicitly expressed in Jacob's prophecy (Gen 49:10; cf., Gen 17:6,16) of Shiloh, the ruler out of the tribe of Judah, then further developed in the oracle of Balaam. in Num. 24:7,17. Deut 17:14 20 looks forward to the time that the LORD will place a king of his choice over his people after entrance in the promised land.

1 Samuel shows us how kingship was established. It is significant that this was done in a way that assured covenantal continuity. More about this later (C.5).

The striking thing is that when Saul's kingship proved to be a failure, David is given the remarkable promise that his dynasty would endure forever (2 Samuel 7:11 16; 23:1 5).

This is the highpoint of the entire book. The line of the promised seed from Jacob to Judah is now narrowed and sharpened. The seed of the woman will come out of the royal line of David. David is to be the ancestor of the great Messiah king to come. This promise is ultimately fulfilled in Christ (Ps 89.3 29ff). Jesus comes as the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1). The angel Gabriel said to Mary that her son "would sit on the throne of his father David (Lk 1:32,33). Jesus is addressed in Matt 20:30 by two blind men sitting by the roadside as the Son of David   "Have mercy on us, 0 LORD thou Son of David." Jesus says of himself (Rev 22:16) "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."

It should be noted, however, that it is not so much David's accomplishments or qualities as a leader as it is God's purposes that were to be accomplished in and through him that are most significant. He is, therefore, not idealized or placed on a pedestal, and his weaknesses are evident. But in spite of his weaknesses he is still known as "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam 13:14; 16:7). In general it can be said that David sought to rule as God intended the occupant on the throne in Israel to rule. He strove to pattern his reign on the requirements of the book of the law, and served the LORD in his capacity as king with his whole heart. His reign is summarized in 2 Sameul 8:15 as a king who "did what was just and right for all his people." Yet even with an individual as godly as David it is clear that no human king could fulfill the high ideal required. He sinned and fell short of God's standards. It is out of recognition of this fact, and even more so with subsequent occupants of David's throne, that the future Messianic hope begins to emerge   namely, that at some future time one will occupy the throne of David who will be greater than any ordinary man, he will be a divine king (Isaiah 7:14   a worthy representative of the house of David will replace Ahaz   he will be called Immanuel, God with us; Isaiah 9:6, a child is to be born with names that indicate deity [mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace] and the government will be upon his shoulder, "and of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.'). Cf., also, Jer. 23:5,6; 33:15,16.

Here then in 1,2 Samuel is the record of the establishment of kingship in Israel. This points forward to something greater that was to come   the Messiah   the King of all the earth. Kingship and Messianic expectation become central to the eschatology of both the Old and New Testaments. This all begins to take shape in 1,2 Samuel.

3. 1,2 Samuel record how Jerusalem became the political and religious center of Israel.

David took the Jebusite city of Zion and made it his capital city (2 Samuel 5:6 14). Later he brought the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6) making it the religious center of the nation and implicitly demonstrating that he recognized Yahweh as the supreme ruler of the land   Yahweh was enthroned between the cherubim   the ark which contained the tablets of the law was his footstool.


V.C. The Life of Samuel
1.    Ancestry and youth - 1 Samuel 1-3
a. The Birth of Samuel 1:1-28
Combined functions of both prophet and judge.
    Samuel was the last and greatest of the judges.  Acts 13:20.
    Samuel was the first in the line of prophets subsequent to the death of Moses. Acts 3:2.
Ranked along with Moses Jer. 15:1
b. Hanna's Song 2:1-10
One of the great prayers of praise in Scripture. Compare with Mary's Magnificat.
c. Judgment on the house of Eli 2:11-36
    Four comments about Samuel
        1) 2:11 The Boy ministered
        2) 2:18 Samuel ministering
wearing the Ephod
        3) 2:21 Samuel grew up in presence of the LORD
        4) 2:26 Samuel continued to grow in stature
d. Call of Samuel 3
3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD in the sense of divine revelation.
2.    The loss and subsequent return of the ark - 1 Samuel 4:1-6:21
ark becomes a talisman to manipulate God. This is a heathen idea.
3.    The victory at Eben-ezer - 1 Samuel 7:1-14
4.    Samuel is established as a leader in Israel - 1 Samuel 7:15-17
5. The establishment of kingship and covenant continuity -  1 Samuel 8-12.

1 Samuel 8-12 describes the rise of kingship in Israel. This section of 1 Samuel naturally divides into five sub-sections.

1. The request for a king -  1 Samuel 8
2. Samuel anoints Saul privately to be king -  1 Samuel 9:1-10:16
3. Saul is publicly chosen to be king by lot at Mizpah -  1 Samuel 10:17-27
4. Saul's choice as king is confirmed by his victory over the Ammonites -  I Samuel 11:1-13
5. Saul's reign is inaugurated at a covenant renewal ceremony convened by Samuel at Gilgal  - 1 Samuel 11:14-12:25

It has often been claimed that this section of Samuel is composed of sources that reflect differing attitudes toward the monarchy. Sections 1,3 and 5 are said to be late, historically unreliable anti monarchialSections 2 and 4 are said to be earlier, more historically reliable pro monarchial sources reflecting a more optimistic and favorable attitude toward kingship.

This sort of literary analysis, however, does not stand up to closer scrutiny. While sections 1, 3 and 5 do have strong statements about Israel's sin in requesting a king (thus a negative stance toward kingship), they, at the same time, also make it clear that it is Yahweh's purpose to give Israel a king (thus a positive stance toward kingship).

sources that were written subsequent to a long and bad experience with kingship. toward kingship).
Kingship represented as sinful:
1) 8:7b; 3) 10:19;  5)12:17,19,20

Kingship represented as the Lord's will:
1) 8:7,9,22; 3) 10:24,25; 5) 12:13

The tension in 1 Samuel 8-12, then, is not that of a conflict between sources that are either pro- or anti-   kingship. Kingship itself is not the issue. The tension centers on whether or not kingship affirms or denies Israel's covenant relationship with Yahweh. When Israel sought national security by desiring a human king "like the nations round about" (1 Sam 8:5, 20) she in effect rejected Yahweh who was her king (1 Sam 8:7; 10:19; 12:12). This abrogation of the covenant was the sin for which Israel was condemned. When Samuel gave Israel a king, at the LORD's command, he did so in the context of a covenant renewal ceremony held at Gilgal where kingship was established in  the setting of a reaffirmation of allegiance to Yahweh (1 Sam 11:14-12:25). This passage (1 Sam 11:14-12:25) is, in fact, the key to the resolution of the alleged pro/anti monarchy tension in the previous chapters.

Understanding these narratives in this way throws light on the question of why kingship did not arise in Israel until several centuries after Israel had arrived in Canaan. All the surrounding nations (Canaanite, Edomite, Ammorite, Moabite etc.) had kings. Why did Israel remain without a king for so long? Some have suggested it was the consequence of the need for a transition from a nomadic to a sedentary way of life. Others have suggested that the people were separated geographically in a way that did not allow for a central authority to arise. These circumstantial explanations, however, are insufficient. The Old Testament does not view the presence or absence of kingship in early Israel as a circumstantial issue, but rather as a principial issue. Israel had been chosen by God to be his people. He was their king. He dwelt in their midst. The ark was his throne seat. It was the LORD who led Israel in battle and gave them victory. It was the LORD who gave them the land of Canaan. Israel, however, was not satisfied with this arrangement, and came to view a direct theocracy as a liability and weakness, rather than as a privilege and strength. When they requested Samuel to give them a king their request constituted a rejection of the LORD who was their king (1 Sam 8:7; 10:19; 12:12). Israel wanted a human king in place of Yahweh. They wanted a national hero, a symbol of national power and unity, someone who would provide them with a visible guarantee of security and rest. So their request for a king reflected:

a. skepticism concerning the adequacy of the rule of Yahweh as their king

b. fear for the enemies who were threatening them (the Philistines, and Ammonites)

c. an attempt to find national unity and security in the pattern of surrounding nations.

In God's purposes, however, the time for kingship, already anticipated in previous revelation, had now come. Even though Israel desired a king for the wrong reasons, after warning them about their error, God told Samuel to give them a king. One might place the words of Joseph over this situation ("You thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save many people alive." Gen 50:20).

So kingship was established in Israel. But it was a different sort of kingship than the people had requested. In 1 Sam 10:25 and Deuteronomy 17:14 20 the king is placed under the law of the LORD. The king in Israel was not to be autonomous in his authority. In surrounding nations the king's will was the law and he answered to no one. The king was viewed as either divine or as the direct spokesman for God with divine authority. In Israel there was no place for this understanding of kingship. In Israel the king was not to be exalted above his brethren. He was not to be worshiped (Deut 17:20). He was not to multiply horses or wives (Deut 17:16,17). And he must govern in accordance with God's law. (Dent 17:18,19).

Kingship thus came to Israel at God's command, although its establishment was occasioned by the misdirected desire of the people for a king. But the sort of kingship inaugurated by Samuel was designed to be a kingship within the covenant (1 Sam 11:1412:25, cf. Josiah, 2 Kgs 23:2,3).

We will look at 1 Samuel 8 and then 1 Samuel 11:14-12:25

1 Samuel 8

The people ask for a king (1 Sam 8:5). Samuel is displeased (1 Sam 8:6). But the Lord told Samuel to give the people a king (1 Sam 8:7 9, 22).

There had been a deterioration in the people's relationship with Yahweh since the LORD gave them victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7). The people attributed their weakness to their lack of a king rather than to their unfaithfulness toward Yahweh. They believed that a king would be able to deliver them from their enemies (1 Sam 8:5, 20).

Yahweh granted their request for a king, but the first king (Saul) did little to deliver them from their enemies. In fact at Saul's death the Philistines were more of a threat to Israel than they were when he began to reign. The reason for this was that Saul did not place himself under the word and law of Yahweh. He did not listen to the voice of the prophet. He turned out to be an anti theocratic king. This anti theocratic kingship was a disaster for Israel, and an example for Saul's successors. In Saul, God showed Israel what kingship would be like when it was separated from submission to the word of Yahweh and faithfulness to His covenant.

Nevertheless in 1 Samuel 8 Yahweh's answer to Samuel shows that the time had come for the establishment of kingship in Israel. To this extent there was agreement between God's purpose for Israel and the people's desire. But the kind of kingship that God commanded was not identical with the kind the people desired.

1 Sam 8:9,11

"the manner of the king" ( ; mispat hammelek)

This "manner of the king" is not what the kings should do, but what a king "as the nations" (vs. 5) would, in fact, do.

A king "as the nations round about" will "take" (6 times in vss. 11-17). This is given as a warning. The description of "the manner of the king" in 1 Samuel 8:9-17 is to be contrasted with the "manner of the kingdom" ( ; mispat hammelukah) in 1 Sam 10:25. In 1 Sam 10:25 the "manner of the kingdom" is a description of what a true covenantal king should be like. It undoubtedly contained material similar to the law of the king found in Deut 17: 14 20.
Begin Audio Lecture 10b
Literary Criticism of 1 Sam 8-12 (slide 66)

1 Sam 8:19

The warning fell on deaf ears. The request became a demand, "We must have a king over us."

1 Sam 8:20

Israel lost her concept of her distinctness as the people of God, and forgot that this distinctness was precisely her reason for existence.

1 Sam 11:14-12:25

We will look first at 1 Samuel 12:1-25

1 Samuel 12 describes Samuel's challenge to Israel to renew her allegiance to Yahweh on the occasion of the introduction of kingship into the structure of the theocracy.

1 Sam 12:1-5

Samuel secured vindication of his own covenant faithfulness during the previous conduct of his office as he presented the people with one who was to assume the responsibilities of kingship. Note   he has not "taken" cf. 8:11-17.

I Sam 12:6-12

Samuel used a resume of the righteous acts of Yahweh in the events of the exodus and the period of the judges in order to judicially establish Israel's apostasy in requesting a king.

I Sam 12:13

Samuel indicated that in spite of this apostasy, Yahweh had chosen to use kingship as an instrument of His rule over his people.

1 Sam 12:14-15

By a restatement of the basic stipulation or "covenant conditional" Samuel confronted Israel with her continuing obligation of total loyalty to Yahweh with the integration of human kingship into the structure of the theocracy.

There has long been a general consensus of interpreters that vs. 14 has only a protasis (the subordinate clause expressing a condition in a conditional sentence) and lacks an apodosis. The translation normally adopted is similar to RSV and NIV:

RSV: "If you will fear the LORD and serve him and hearken to his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if [MT: then] both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well [NIV   "good"].

The last phrase does not occur in the MT and must be added to complete the sentence. As H. P. Smith (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Samuel Edinburgh, 1951, 88) has pointed out "to begin the apodosis with wihyitem; then] is grammatically the correct thing to do. . ." Yet, Smith feels that to do so produces a redundancy because "it makes an identical proposition: if you fear Yahweh... then you will follow Yahweh."

Comparison of vs. 14 with vs. 15 confirms that the apodosis rightly begins with [wihyitem; then]. The two verses are parallel in structure.

RSV (1 Sam 12:15): "But if you will not hearken to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king."

Smith's objection turns on his understanding of the expression ... (wihyitem ... ahar yhwh; then you will follow Yahweh).

This phrase occurs in several other places in the OT:
2 Sam 2:10; 15:13; 1 Kgs 12:20; 16:21.

In all of these places it is used to indicate that the people of Israel, or a certain segment of the people have chosen to follow a particular king in a situation where there was another possible alternative.

2 Sam 2:10
The decision of Judah to follow David while Ishbosheth reigned over the remainder of the nation.

1 Kgs 12:20
Judah followed the house of David at the time of the division of the kingdom.

Divided loyalties between Tibni and Omri after the death of Zimri.

2 Sam 15:13.
The rebellion of Absalom. The men of Israel choose to give allegiance to Absalom and recognize him as king instead of David.

Using this understanding of the phrase, then, one can say that here at Gilgal Israel entered a new era in which the old covenant conditional took on a new dimension (cf. Exod 19:5,6; Deut 11:13 15, 22-25, 26 28; 28:lff; 30:17; Josh 24:20; 1 Sam 7:3). With the institution of kingship the potential is created for the people to have divided loyalties between Yahweh and the human king. Because of this Samuel challenged the people to renew their determination to obey Yahweh, and not to rebel against his commandments, and thereby to demonstrate that they continued to recognize Yahweh as their sovereign.

It is, then, not necessary to conclude that the expression "if you fear Yahweh... then you will follow Yahweh" is a redundancy or an identical proposition. Rather, this is the expression of the basic covenant conditional in terms of the new era that Israel was entering. If Israel fears Yahweh, etc. she will show that she continues to recognize Yahweh as her sovereign even though human kingship has been introduced into the structure of the theocracy. Israel must not replace her loyalty to Yahweh with loyalty to her human ruler.

Cf., the translation of 1 Sam 12:14 in NLT (2nd edition text).

"Now if you fear and worship the LORD and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the LORD's commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the LORD as your God."

1 Sam 12:16-22

A sign is given from heaven at Samuel's request to demonstrate the seriousness of Israel's apostasy in asking for a king to replace Yahweh (vss. 16-18a).

As 1 Sam 8:20 made clear, Israel desired a king to fight her battles. She sought her security in a human leader rather than in Yahweh. This was a serious breach of covenant. It displayed contempt for previous deliverances (1 Sam 12:6-11), and a lack of confidence in Yahweh's covenant promises.

One of the prominent features of Hittite treaties was the Great King's promise to protect his vassal against their enemies. Yahweh gave a similar promise to Israel (Exod 23:22, cf. Exod 34:11). It was in this promise that

Israel was to find her sense of national security. Deut. 20:1 4 tells Israel never to fear even when the enemy is stronger than she.

This sign led to a confession of sin (vss 18b 19), a challenge to renewed covenant faithfulness (vss. 20,2 1) and a reminder of the constancy of Yahweh's faithfulness to his people (vs. 22).

1 Sam 12:23-25

Samuel describes his own continuing function in the new order (vs. 23), and concludes his remarks with a repetition of Israel's central covenantal obligation (vs. 24) reinforced by the threat of the covenant curse if Israel again apostatizes (vs. 25).

1 Samuel 11:14-15

These two verses are a short lead paragraph or summarizing introduction to the more detailed account of the same Gilgal ceremony contained in chapter 12.

There are two primary issues addressed in both 1 Sam 11:14,15 and 1 Sam 12:1-25:
1) transition in national leadership
2) restoration of covenant fellowship after covenant abrogation.

12:1 25
1. Transition in national leadership
Here the emphasis is on Samuel's covenant faithfulness in his past leadership of the nation as well as his continuing role in the future (12:23) when human kingship assumes its legitimate place in the structure of the theocracy.

2. Restoration of covenant fellowship after covenant abrogation
Confession of sin with respect to the wrongly motivated desire for a king (12:19).

1. Transition in national leadership
Emphasis on the inauguration of Saul.

2. Restoration of covenant fellowship after covenant abrogation
The restoration of covenant fellowship is signified by the sacrificing of peace offerings (11:15).

Both passages describe the primary purpose of the assembly as a renewal of allegiance to Yahweh. This suggests that the "renewal of the kingdom" (vs. 14) is a reference to Yahweh's kingdom and not Saul's. This explains how the kingdom could be "renewed" and at the same ceremony Saul could be "made king" (vs. 15).

There is no need to adopt the standard conclusion of most main stream biblical scholars that this phrase ("renew the kingdom") is a redactional insertion. As B.C. Birch (The Rise of the Israelite Monarchy The Growth and Development of 1 Sam 7-15 1970, 101) says about 1 Sam 11:14: "Most scholars have regarded this verse as the clearest evidence of redactional activity in this chapter and there would seem to be little reason for challenging this conclusion... It would seem clear that an editor has in the process of ordering the traditions as we now have them attempted to harmonize an apparent duplication. Saul has already become king in 10:24 so the instance in 11:15 has been transformed into a renewal."

The problem that surfaces in 1 Sam 11:14 is the question of how Saul's kingdom could be renewed if he had not yet been "made king" (i.e. been officially inaugurated). In other words, how could his kingdom be "renewed" if his reign had not even begun.

In verse 15 we read that "they made Saul king (NIV: "confirmed Saul as king"). The Hiphil form of  (malak) that is used here is consistently used elsewhere in the Old Testament to designate the official inauguration of someone's reign as king. See, 1 Sam 13:1 where the regular formula indicating the beginning of the reign of a king appears.

If one regards both  (hadash renew) and (yimleku they made [Saul] king) as referring to the kingship of Saul a serious problem is created. How could Saul's kingship be renewed before he was actually made king? The normal solution of main stream biblical scholars has been to consider v. 14 as a "redactional insertion" intended to harmonize competing stories of how Saul came to be king. All things considered a better solution is to take (hadash renew) as a reference to the kingdom of Yahweh and (yimleku they made [Saul] king) as a reference to Saul's inauguration in the context of covenant renewal.

It should be understood that (hadash does not mean reaffirm (NIV), confirm, or celebrate the kingship -  it means renew.

(hadash) means the restoration or repair of something that already exists, but is in a condition of deterioration.

Saul had previously been privately anointed (1 Sam 9:1), and then had been selected by lot as king designate (1 Sam 10:17 27), but he had not been  inaugurated as king. Now, in I Sam 11:14 12:25 Saul is inaugurated as king after a seal has been placed on his leadership by his victory over the Ammonites (1 Sam 11:1-13).

The NW translates 1 Sam 11:14,15 as: "Then Samuel said to the people, 'Come let us go to Gilgal and there reaffirm the kingship. So all the people went to Gilgal and confirmed Saul as king in the presence of the LORD..." This seems to be an attempt by the NTV translators to resolve the problem inherent in the text, but the NIV translation is not justified by the clear meaning of the Hebrew words.

The TNIV is an improvement:
"Then Samuel said to the people, 'Come let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship. So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the LORD."

Then Samuel said to the people, 'Come let us all go to Gilgal to reaffirm Saul's kingship. So they went to Gilgal, and in a solemn ceremony before the LORD they crowned him king.

NLT, 2nd edition text:
"Then Samuel said to the people, 'Come let us all go to Gilgal to renew the kingdom. So they all went to Gilgal, and in a solemn ceremony before the LORD they made Saul king.

Thus the role of the king in Israel was carefully defined at the time it was established. From this time forward when a king in Israel departed from the law a prophet was sent to admonish him. The prophet was not under the king but above him as a spokesman for God. Samuel laid the foundation for this relationship in 1 Sam 12:23.

Samuel  - Saul; 1 Sam 13:l0ff.; 15:l0ff.
Nathan, Gad -  David; 2 Samuel 12:1, 24:11
Elijah - Ahab; 1 Kings 17; 21:17-19

So at the same time that the royal house was established in Israel provision was made for a line of prophets who down through the generations would have the job of presenting the demands of the covenant to both the king and the people. In Israel the royal house was always under the scrutiny of the prophets. The prophets reminded the king and the people that God was their supreme ruler and their Great King. The human ruler was at best a representative of Yahweh's rule, and at worst a usurper. The prophets were able to function in this way throughout Israel's history because Israel's existence as a nation was grounded in the Sinai covenant in which Yahweh was the Divine Suzerain, and Israel his vassal people.

With this concept of kingship in Israel a surprising thing took place in the time of David. The LORD entered into a covenant with David insuring that his dynasty would endure forever (2 Samuel 7). As the descendants of David regularly fell far short of the covenantal ideal for kingship, the permanency of the Davidic covenant may seem problematic. The resolution to this problem becomes clearer with the development of the Messianic idea by the prophets (see, e.g., Isa 7:14, 9:6; Jer 23:5,6 etc.). The prophets looked forward to a king who was both human and divine. The prophets envision a time when God himself will sit on the throne of David. Then both the covenantal ideal for kingship would be realized and the promise to David maintained.

Within the context of the Sinai covenant the continued possession of the land was related to the obedience of the nation. It was a symbol of God's favor. As punishment for not keeping the covenant, God would take away possession of the land (2 Kgs l7:7ff, 18:9-12; cf. Deut 28:45ff).

In due time Israel went into captivity for breaking the covenant. Even after a partial return under the Persians, Israel never again (except for a brief interlude under the Maccabees) regained her independence. She traded masters through the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman periods. Under the Roman domination Jesus was born. As he established himself as the one who fulfilled the prophecies of the OT Messiah many Jews began to look to him as the King who would expel the Gentiles and reestablish the kingdom of God.

At his triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus was welcomed as a King. Yet several days later he was rejected. Jesus made it clear that he did not come to drive out the Romans, and as a result the people turned against him. Paradoxically, the chief priests were afraid he would start a revolt so they were also against him. In God's plan, however, the Messiah was to come first not as a King, but as a Servant. He was to take the curse upon himself, in order to meet the demands of the Sinai covenant on behalf of God's people. In so doing he would institute another edition of the covenant in which all who put their trust in His work might partake.

After his resurrection Jesus spoke with his disciples concerning the phase of the kingdom of God that was yet to come (Acts 1:3 if.). In the programmatic unfolding of God's kingdom, Christ is to return and sit upon the throne of David and establish the Kingdom of God on earth in which the blessings of His rule will extend over all the earth.