What does 1 Samuel teach us about where to put our trust?
That we should not put our trust in people, or fear them, but instead we should trust and fear the Lord and His anointed.
“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9 ESV).
The book of 1 Samuel opens where Judges left off; with the nation in turmoil. No one leads the people, no one follows God. For generations God has raised up judges to address national crises, but most of the judges were not godly, and they often caused as much trouble as they solved. Samuel is the last judge, and he is also a prophet. He his born because of his mother’s weeping prayers asking the Lord to have mercy on her childlessness. God grants her request and the nation was blessed with a bold and godly leader, the prophet Samuel.
But the people no longer want a judge who will only lead them out of times of crisis—they want a King. They think a King will give them stability—they don’t recognize that the turmoil in their country is a product of their own sin. So, in an act of judgment God gives the people what they ask for, knowing it will not turn out well. He tells Samuel to anoint Saul as the King, and Saul shows the nation that even a King can’t help them out of their sin. Saul is physically strong, but a weak leader, afraid of the people, and he sins against God—so Israel continues to lose battles with the Philistines.
It becomes evident that Israel needs more than a King; they need someone to keep them faithful to God’s law so they can experience all the blessings of His promises. Anointing a King who seemed strong outwardly was a disaster.
So, God sends Samuel to anoint David, a shepherd boy, as King. When Samuel goes to anoint the next King, God warns him to not judge by outward appearances—only God can see the heart, and God tells Samuel to choose David instead of his brothers who, judging by appearance, seem stronger than David.
David shows the strength of the Lord throughout his entire life. His first fight is against Goliath of Gath, a battle-tested warrior at least nine feet tall. Goliath had publicly mocked God, and David knew that God would strike him down if only someone would have the faith to fight. David’s faith led him to the battlefield without a sword or armor, but he fought in the name of the Lord, and Goliath fell. David had more faith in the God he couldn’t see than the giant he could. For the entire book, David shows amazing character as he claims God’s promises and receives God’s victory as God’s anointed King.
This book can be a warning for us. We, like the children of Israel, long for safety and security, so we often put our trust in unworthy leaders. But 1 Samuel also gives us a glimpse of God’s blessing when we trust in His anointed King, Jesus. We can read how God empowered David, and we know that this is even truer of our King Jesus. David’s job was to lead Israel in obeying the law, and he enjoyed victory as he led in faithfulness to the covenant; but even David sinned and failed at times. Jesus never failed. In fact, he obeyed the law perfectly for us, and then to show us God’s great love, he took all the curse of our sin and died in our place so we could enjoy all of God’s blessings. Life is full of trials and problems too large for us to face; we might be tempted to put our trust in money, or education, or even politicians. But Jesus conquered our greatest foe: death. He died for your sin and rose from the dead to give you life. Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. No matter how deep the valley, no matter how dark the shadow, your King is with you, and Jesus never loses. One day he will return, and his reign will never end. Are you ready for that day?
Are you trusting in your King?