Story 6 of 12: THE EARLY KINGDOM
The last judge of Israel was Samuel, who called the people to turn back to Yahweh and give up the foreign gods. But the Philistines were too strong to expel, leading the Israelites to clamor for a king of their own, just like the other nations had. Samuel was chosen by God to be not just a judge, but a prophet (God's spokesperson). Samuel relayed to the people that God was against the idea of a king because kings were considered like gods. But the people insisted, and God allowed it, with the warning that the kings should follow God’s will as spoken through the prophets.
The first king was Saul. Already there was trouble when Samuel (as the prophet) instructed King Saul to pronounce the curse of destruction on the Amalekites. Instead of carrying out the curse of destruction fully, Saul kept some of the loot and spared the Amalekite king. Samuel told Saul that because of this failure to carry out his orders, he would lose God’s favor, and a new king would soon be anointed to take his place. At this, Saul began losing his mind. To calm his nerves, he would call on the young musician David, a shepherd boy who had actually been the one secretly anointed to be the next king!
One day the mighty Philistines were taunting Israel, with the largest Philistine, Goliath, challenging any Israelite to fight him to decide which nation would serve the other. Against the odds, the young David took up the challenge to defend God's name and beat Goliath with a rock to his forehead. David established himself as a great warrior and started growing in strength. Saul’s fondness for him eventually turned into a made jealousy, even persecuting David in order to kill him.
David fled to the caves, and composed songs conveying his trust in God during these troubled times, attributing all of his military victories to God, not the sword. These songs make up a good portion of the book of Psalms. On two occasions David even had a chance to kill Saul but refused to do so because of his respect for Saul, who was still king. Knowing that Saul would kill him, he took refuge amongst the enemy Philistines! Without David' strength, the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, and king Saul and his sons (including David's best friend Jonathan) were killed in battle. David mourned them deeply. Many of Saul's followers were so moved by David’s honor of Saul that they joined the house of David. David became the king, and all of Israel rallied behind him. He finally destroyed the Philistines, and they even captured the city of Jerusalem to make their capitol. As David sang and danced with all of his might, the ark of the covenant that had led them to so many victories was triumphantly marched into their new capitol. Because of his trust in God, the next prophet, Nathan, relayed to David that God would rule the people Israel forever in the line of David.
Then it was time for David’s sin :-/ One day he fell for Bathsheeba, the wife of one of his soldiers Uriah. David selfishly arranged for Uriah to be put on the front lines of the next battle where the fighting was the most dangerous, and Uriah died in battle. When the prophet Nathan rebuked him for this maneuver, David did not try to justify his move as king the way King Saul tried justifying himself before, but instead declared Yahweh as his God and repented of his wrongdoing. As a result Nathan informed David that God would forgive him, but the baby that they conceived would die as a punishment for his actions.
In the end, David would be the greatest king of Israel, combining might and humility, and every king thereafter would be compared to King David.
With their land, their king, and their capitol, it was Israel’s finest hour.
- warrior, poet, musician, and king of Israel
When David was told that God would rule his people through his, it was the last in a line of covenants between God and the people Israel before a new and everlasting covenant would be established through Christ. Here is a recap of the old covenants:
The first was made with Noah, a covenant between God and all of creation, promising that God would never destroy it again with a great Flood.
The next covenant with God was with Abraham, whose family would be named God's chosen people. Their name would be taken from one of his descendants, Jacob (Israel).
The next covenant was made with Moses: Israel, now forged into a nation when God brought them out of Egypt, would have their own land.
And finally, secured in that promised land, God made his (second to) last covenant with King David, in whose line God would rule his people as a light to other nations.
Why did God tell the people that having a king was not a good idea?
What was the difference between Saul and David's reaction when rebuked by God's prophet?
With whom was the last covenant in the Old Testament made between God and his people?