The Sovereignty of God

3      2016-07-06     Audio


The prophetic function is to reveal the word and will of God. Samuel is raised up from the soveriegn hand of God for the purpose of revealing His word and will. But even this, the raising of the prophet, the service of the prophet, the effectiveness of the prophet, the glory of the prophet, the total purpose of the prophet, all serve to exalt the sovereignty of God.

This is a book not about prophets; most significantly it traces the establishment of Israel’s theocracy, portending the theocracy of all God’s people.


Sovereignty is defined as "the quality or condition of being sovereign."

  • Supremacy or pre-eminence in respect of excellence or efficacy.
  • Supremacy in respect of power, domination, or rank; supreme dominion, authority, or rule.
  • spec. The position, rank, or power of a supreme ruler or monarch; royal authority or dominion. —OED
  • Supreme in power; possessing supreme dominion. … A supreme lord or ruler; one who possesses the highest authority without control. —NW (1828)
  • freedom from external control —MW


The sovereignty of God is demonstrated in the Book of Samuel by several thematic elements, including what follows.

A. Kingship

The role, function, and responsibilities most essential to the concept of “king” is sovereignty. The sketch of a king, who is an absolute sovereign over all creation, is basic to the self-revelation of God. John Frame says that “The central message of Scripture is that God is Lord” (DG, 25).

  • 1 Ch 29:11 - Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.

So when Israel demanded a king, in order to be like the other nations, they were essentially rejecting God's kingship (see 1 Sam 10:19; 12:12). In 1 Samuel 8:7, the Lord says to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them." When the Lord instructs Samuel to obey the voice of the people, it is not so much a concession as much as it is a statement by the Lord indicating that He would take on the responsibility of their request.

God's is an eternal kingship. Exodus 15:18 says, "The LORD will reign forever and ever." Psalm 29:10 says, "The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever." See also Psalm 49, Psalm 93, and Psalms 96 through 99.

God is the LORD of hosts—King of armies and Lord of all created beings. First Samuel 4:4 says, "So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God." Similarly, 1 Samuel 1:3 identifies the Lord as "the LORD of hosts" (see also 1 Sam 1:11). “The 'hosts' (ṣebā’ôt) can refer to heavenly bodies (Judg. 5:20; Isa. 40:26), angelic beings (Josh. 5:14f.), the armies of Israel (1 Sam. 17:45), or all creatures (Gen. 2:1). The noun ( has probably an abstract meaning such as “plentifulness, numberlessness” and is intensified by plural form” (Tsumura, 109). The original connection was with worship rather than war, which is the more common assocation today.

God is King not only over Israel. In 1 Samuel 7:13, we see that it was "the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel." God is sovereign over the Philistines. “However, the kingship of Yahweh was his by his nature and the fact of creation; it was not attained as the result of any victory over the power of chaos, as was that of Marduk or Baal” (Tsumura, 70).

Notice the first mention of "king" in the Book of Samuel:

1 Sa 2:10 - The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

“God is the King of the Universe; no human king can assume kingship except as the deputy of the divine King” (Tsumura, 69).

Ps 96:10 - Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

God had always intended to give Israel, and the world through them, a king:

  • Ge 49:10 - The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
  • Dt 17:14–20 - “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ [15] you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. [16] Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ [17] And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. [18] “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. [19] And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, [20] that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
  • 2 Sa 7:18–22 - Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? [19] And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! [20] And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! [21] Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. [22] Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

B. Sovereign Will and Power

The Lord acts according to His will and His power, not according to ours; He is sovereign.

  • 1 Sa 1:19–20 - They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. [20] And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”
  • 1 Sa 14:6 - Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.”
  • 1 Sa 17:45–47 - Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. [46] This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, [47] and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
  • 1 Sa 25:28–29 – [Abigail] Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. [29] If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.

The sin of Israel in demanding a king was primarily in their refusal to trust in the LORD. The LORD would grant them victory in His own time, but they wanted military victory according to their timing. The LORD would lead them in all their ways, provide justice internally, and fight to protect and deliver them from external dangers, but they wanted someone who would listen to them, who would lead, judge, and fight for them according to their own pleasure. Thus, "They were willing to exchange humble faith in the protection and power of 'the *LORD Almighty' (1 Sam 1:3) for misguided reliance on the naked strength of 'the fighting men of Israel' (2 Sam 24:4)" (Youngblood, 558).