THE UNITED KINGDOM
The last of the great judges is Samuel. He is a faithful man, but his sons are not. The people, fearful of what will happen when Samuel dies, and wanting to be like the nations around them, ask Samuel to appoint them a king, I Samuel 8:1-5. Displeased, Samuel brings the matter to Jehovah. God points out that, in asking for a human king, they are rejecting Him as their king, verses 6-8. This is an indicator that God never wanted a human head for His people. God has always wanted to be our refuge, the One in whom we put our trust and upon whom we rely for provision and protection. Thus, it is not surprising that in the New Covenant, wherein God reveals His true standard for mankind, there is no visible organization higher than the local church. There is no human individual or body assigned to the oversight of the church that Jesus built. On the contrary, Jesus Himself is our King, and He is the only head of His body (Ephesians 1:15-23).
God instructs Samuel to warn the people as to what it will be like to live under a human king, but the people insist that they want one anyway, I Samuel 8:9-22. God then appoints a man who, to fleshly eyes, appears to be the ideal candidate: Saul the son of Kish, who was a full head taller than anyone else in Israel, I Samuel 10:17-24.
From an earthbound perspective, Saul seems to be an effective king. Valiant in war, he leads the people to victory after victory, thus unifying and strengthening the nation of Israel, I Samuel 14:47-48. However, Saul is not a godly man - not a man of faith. He repeatedly disobeys God and shows a general lack of faith. This comes to a head when he disobeys God's command regarding the Amelekites: God rejects Saul as king, I Samuel 15.
Rather than going for another man who would be physically impressive, God chooses a replacement for Saul based upon what is in the man's heart. He chooses a shepherd boy, David the son of Jesse, I Samuel 16:1-13. The difference between David's heart and Saul's becomes immediately evident in the way they react to Goliath's challenge, I Samuel 17. Saul, being the king, and being taller than anyone else in Israel, would have been the logical choice to fight the giant. However, Saul judges by sight, and fears Goliath. By contrast, the young David looks with the eyes (and heart) of faith, and eagerly faces Goliath. David's statements in verses 34-36 and 45-47 are magnificent statements of faith.
Another stark contrast between David and Saul is seen in how they respond when they are confronted with their own sins. When his sins are pointed out, Saul makes excuses and tries to justify himself, I Samuel 13:8-14. As for David, when his sins are brought to light, he responds, "I have sinned against the LORD" (II Samuel 12:1-13). He makes no excuses for his wrong, but pleads for forgiveness, and for help to do what is right. David's expression of true repentance in Psalm 51 is a model for us even today.
When he begins to reign, David takes Jerusalem, and makes it the capitol of Israel, II Samuel 5:1-10. He joyfully brings the Ark of the Covenant into the new capitol, II Samuel 6. In his zeal he wants to build a temple, but God promises to build David a house instead: He promises to establish his throne forever, II Samuel 7. God's promise finds a partial, physical fulfillment in Solomon, but the ultimate fulfillment comes about 1,000 years later.
David's son, Solomon, reigned in his father's place. Solomon started his reign as a wise and faithful man, I Kings 3:5-15. He built the temple in Jerusalem, I Kings 6:1-9. Under Solomon, the kingdom grew to its greatest extent, I Kings 4:20-21, in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:18. (Once again, no matter how we slice it, the land promise was completely fulfilled in Old Testament times!) Under Solomon, the nation of Israel enjoyed great peace and prosperity, I Kings 4:22-34. However, in spite of his great wisdom, Solomon later turned away from God because of his love for pagan women. As a result of this, Solomon's son will lose much of the kingdom, I Kings 11:1-13.