WHY DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL KING SAUL IF SAUL WAS EVIL?
by Shawn Brasseaux
During a recent family Bible study, my inquisitive 10-year-old niece asked me, “If God knew the future, why did He let Saul become king of Israel? Saul was bad.” So, why did God allow evil Saul to assume Israel’s throne? In a few words, “The God of the Bible loves free will that much.” To the Scriptures we go!
We begin reading in 1 Samuel chapter 8: “ And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.  Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.  And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” How extremely unfortunate! Samuel’s sons were terrible, godless rulers. Their wickedness encouraged Israel to look for someone else to replace Samuel when he died.
We keep reading in the Bible: “ Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.”
Israel was ungrateful. She did not like the special position that God had given her. Like most professing Christians today, the Jews wanted to be like everyone else. They refused to be the “oddball” nation anymore. “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel knew this is trouble in the making, so he prayed to the LORD. Let us see what the LORD says: “ And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.  Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”
The LORD told Samuel some very simple words. Samuel was to give Israel exactly what she wanted. Israel had not really rejected Samuel but she had really rejected Samuel’s God. Israel had really rejected JEHOVAH God. They do not want Him to rule over them. As they had done centuries earlier (the book of Judges, for example), Israel went and worshipped pagan gods. They did not submit to the one true God. They preferred idols of wood and stone. God was not surprised that Israel now wanted a king. She had a false religion like the heathen. Now, she wanted a government like the heathen. But, God wanted to warn them. He instructed Samuel to warn them of the disadvantages of a monarchy. Notice what Samuel did with God’s instructions and how Israel reacted:
“ And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.  And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.  And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.  And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.  And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.  And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.  And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.  He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.  And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.  Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;  That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
Verse 19 says Israel “refused to obey the voice of Samuel.” They said, “Nay; but we will have a king over us.” They stubbornly refused to listen to God’s warnings. They wanted a king, no matter what the result. Samuel told the LORD: “ And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.  And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.”
Note, “And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.”
Israel was so determined to have a king. She twice argued with Samuel to anoint a king. She did not want God ruling over her as King. Like all sinners, descendants of Adam are no different today. They want to be their own ruler. So, God gave Israel exactly what she wanted. He loves free will that much! Your sinful decisions will end in disaster but God will give you your way if you insist. You study 1 Samuel chapters 8-31, to see the horrible outcome of Israel’s decision to have a king instead of God being their Ruler!
Why is the world in so much trouble today? Romans 1:28 explains: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”