Samuel had been a faithful leader in Israel and had been well respected by his fellow Israelites. But they had lived among the dwellers of Canaan who, without exception, were ruled by kings. For some unknown reason they had some strange urge to be like their neighbors. They demanded that Samuel find a king to rule them.
God was obviously aware of their intention, perhaps long before it was expressed, and had already chosen an appropriate Royal for them. But, as was their custom, they refused to exercise godly patience, and demanded a king. And they got Saul. He was a specimen of physical perfection, but they failed to consider what was under that attractive skin. After centuries of God’s direction and instruction they still had a lot to learn. Some of us have been under God’s instruction for decades and still have a lot to learn. Learning must be life - long activity for believers.
Saul was a disaster for Israel. He spent a good bit of his reign trying to kill the one God had chosen to be Israel’s king. Samuel had the responsibility to anoint the one who was to replace Saul and he was led to the sons of Jesse. The eldest son, Eliab, seemed to Samuel to be the chosen one. But God gave him special instruction to avoid the mistake they had made with Saul. “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature . . . man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Sam. 16:7). Samuel obeyed God’s instruction and anointed the youngest to be the King of Israel.
Perhaps the best way to get to know David is to consider his writings. And a good place to start is with the psalm that was placed at the beginning of the Psalter. It really encapsulates the overall message of the Psalms, presenting basic truths that will be enlarged on in the rest of the Psalms.
The psalm begins by listing three attributes, or activities, that should be part of the life of a follower of Jehovah, and are especially crucial in the life of a Leader. It is hard to tell whether David listed these as necessary qualities that he should follow as he began his kingship, or whether they were things he had learned during his office as king of Israel.
The first thing mentioned as being extremely important is where we look for counseling. We can put up with a President who may not be a genius if he is able to assess and chose capable counselors. I am not sure where we would rate our President Trump in that category. There are trained and capable professional counselors whom we should probably listen to. But they have their limitations. Isaiah spoke of the coming Messiah who would be a “wonderful counselor” (Isa. 9:6). That is where we need to look for counseling. God provided David with godly counselors but he didn’t always listen to them (Bathsheba? II Sam. 11), placing himself and the entire nation in jeopardy.
Where do you turn for counsel?
Not only should we not walk in the counsel of unbelievers, nor should we stand in the company of sinners. I think the Psalmist was stating we are to choose our friends very carefully. The people we hang out with have a significant influence in what occupies our minds and how we spend our time. What is the subject of our conversation? Our discussion of the weather and the social and financial and political problems we face should soon merge into conversations about spiritual matters. If that rarely happens perhaps we should find other friends.
Finally, David warns us, and reminds himself, not to get too comfortable with those who have problems with the truth. Do not sit “in the seat of scoffers” (Psa. 1:1). Our relationships with unbelievers should primarily be to expose them to the Gospel (can’t seem to type the “Gospel” without capitalizing the first letter. Should probably capitalize all the letters. What is more important than the GOSPEL.)
David has a lot more to teach us!