The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shi’loh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:10)
This is readily recognized as Messianic prophesy identifying the coming Messiah as a descendant of Judah. The scepter, the rod indicating the king’s authority, was assigned to the tribe of Judah, never to depart until the coming of the “One Who Brings Peace” (the meaning of Shiloh).
It is interesting that Israel’s first king, Saul, was not from the tribe of Judah, but rather from the tribe of Benjamin. First Samuel 12 records the ascension of Saul, Israel’s first king. Saul was the people’s choice, not God’s. “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ra’-mah, And said unto him … make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:4-5). Failure is assured when God’s people try to pattern themselves after the world, and once that route is chosen God will often stand back and let it happen. “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 reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). We are all guilty of that at one time or another. We do not want God ruling over us, so instead we opt for the fallacious idea of “self-rule.” The idea of self-rule is fallacious because no one is truly a free agent, but I digress.
The wisdom of the world is never optimal. By the world’s standards, Saul was “a choice young man, and [handsome]: and there was not among the children of Israel a [handsomer] person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2); but whereas “man looketh on the outward appearance … the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Israel’s choice was nothing like what God had planned for Israel. “Behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! And, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you” (1 Samuel 12:13). Note that even though Saul was the people’s choice, God assumes the responsibility for setting him up. This is something to keep in mind in the upcoming election. No matter who wins, ultimately it is God who will set him over us. Even after God allowed Israel’s poor choice, He still shows mercy toward them. “For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it has pleased the LORD to make you his people” (1 Samuel 12:22). It is comforting to know that even when we make poor choices, God will not abandon us. We have the promise that “The One Who Brings Peace” will come and reclaim His creation, and from Him “the scepter shall not depart.”