I feel like Saul is one of those underrepresented people in the Bible. I think it’s kind of a big deal that he was the first king of Israel. He wasn’t perfect, but no one is. He seems like a pretty well intending and good guy who makes a mistake.
This chapter is where they decide that they need a king, despite the warning sent to them from God.
This is Saul’s journey to Samuel, who tells him that Saul will be the king they asked for. God tells Samuel before Saul’s arrival.
Some administrative parts of setting up Saul as the king are done here. I thought it was interesting that there is a point where “God gave him another heart”. I don’t really know what that means or how it effects our modern notion of free will. Also that God points out that they didn’t want Him to be the king, and that was why they wanted a king. He was just giving them what they wanted.
The best part of this was when Saul was hiding in the baggage when it came time for him to be anointed as king. Like everyone else God has dealt with, he didn’t exactly want it.
Doubt in God’s ability to deliver them from trouble rears its head yet again. They get threatened by the Ammonites and panic. Fortunately, they had to send a message to everyone else and Saul stopped it from happening by going to God for help.
Then there’s some sort of conference because “the people” and Samuel and Saul are clearly having a conversation together. It revolves around some people talking a little insubordinately about Saul and the people he just saved wanted to kill them over it. But Saul seems pretty levelheaded and dissuades them against it. Then Samuel decides to renew the kingdom and do something that official makes him king.
Samuel admonishes them for wanting a king and gets into the explanation of God as their king before, but that this wasn’t adequate for them. He warns them yet again about following God and the repercussions if they don’t. It’s all the same stuff as the other judges and Joshua and Moses had said to their contemporaries.
Saul missteps in making a command decision to do a burnt offering on his own. It appears that his heart was in the right place. As my husband would say “good initiative, bad judgement.” Samuel lets him know that the price for that misstep will be his kingdom and that God has found someone to replace him.
The chapter ends with the information that there is no blacksmith in Israel. They had been dependent on the Philistines, who they’re going up against, and therefore have no swords or spears for the big battle. Except Saul and his son Jonathon.