Journey Through The Scriptures


Lesson 4: The Anointing of Saul

(Scripture to Read: Samuel 8:1 – 10:27)

This study begins with a rather stunning report that the people of Israel must have believed would never happen in Samuel’s lifetime. Like Eli before him, Samuel also had two sons who were unfaithful to God in their service.

Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abijah, abused their offices as judges after the elderly Samuel appointed them to carry out the responsibilities he was no longer able to fulfill. The corruption of Samuel’s sons became one reason the Israelites began to demand a king to rule over them.

Samuel was distressed by the people’s request, for he knew that it represented a lack of faith in God’s kingship. But God told Samuel to fill the request and anoint Saul as Israel’s first king. In many ways, Saul was an unlikely choice. Other than his striking physical appearance, Saul seemed to have few qualities that would commend him for leadership. God’s choice of Saul did not necessarily mean that Saul was the perfect man for the throne – as would soon become clear when Saul failed the Lord. But Israel insisted on having a king, and there was jubilation at Saul’s coronation.

Study Questions

  1. Besides their wanting to be rid of Samuel’s sons, why did the Israelites want Samuel to choose a king?
  2. Why would neither of Samuel’s sons not have made a good choice for a king?
  3. What burdens were the people of Israel accepting when they demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:10–17)?
  4. Why was Saul hesitant to become king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:21)?

Something to Think About

This lesson is a stark reminder that, as the common saying goes, we cannot expect something for nothing. Israel’s desire to have a king would cost the people dearly, but they were not concerned about the consequences of their decision. Every choice has consequences – and we do well to consider those before we pursue our desires.