As I have been reading through 1 Samuel, I have found myself paying closer attention to the events than I have before. Over a period of 40 years Saul established the monarchy for the nation of Israel as their first King.
He started out as a meek individual feeling unworthy to be chosen for this job and ended holding on to power even though the Lord made it clear that his reign would come to an end.
The first indictment comes in 1 Samuel 13:14 “…your kingdom will not last. The Lord has searched for a man after his own heart. The Lord has appointed him as ruler of his people, because you didn’t follow the command of the Lord.”
When Saul “obeyed” in his own way God instructions concerning the Amalekites, he made excuses and finally admitted…
“I have sinned by not following the Lord’s command or your instructions. I was afraid of the people and listened to them. Now please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord.” Samuel told Saul, “I will not go back with you because you rejected what the Lord told you. So the Lord rejects you as king of Israel.” When Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel told him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today.” 1 Samuel 15:26-28
Saul is described as being “head and shoulders” above other men. So he was an imposing figure and stood out in a crowd. However, when David was anointed by Samuel as the next King of Israel it was clear what God’s priorities were in a leader. David as King became known as “the man after God’s own heart”
“Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
As David enters into Saul’s life, Saul epitomizes the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Saul’s response to David was one of jealousy even though it was becoming obvious that David had God’s anointing on his life. He defeated Goliath, he was victorious in battles, and he was winning the hearts of the people. He became the Saul’s son-in-law even though Saul thought he had a plan that would result in David being killed in battle. (1 Samuel 18:24-29) The more successful David was the more paranoid, jealous and angry Saul became.
Facing the consequences of disobedience can demonstrate rebellion or contrition
If he were a prophet today Samuel would probably say something to Saul like, “which part of, ‘I have rejected you as king’ don’t you understand?” The Lord’s message was clear to Saul yet when God’s presence was not directing his life we see human responses of jealousy, envy and insecurity. What God had granted to Saul as a divine call he was now trying to hold on to with human effort.
I remember Pastor Mark Batterson in a conversation with Pastor’s some years ago talking about Saul and making the statement, “there is a little of Saul in all of us.”
When Samuel anointed Saul as King, God gave him “a new heart” (1 Samuel 10:9) When Saul disobeyed the instructions of the Lord God’s presence left Saul and he “was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:12)
I think of Moses who disobeyed the instructions of the Lord and was not allowed to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Yet he continued to faithfully seek the Lord and prepare Joshua as the next leader of God’s people.
Even when Samuel as a boy received his first message from the Lord and it was a judgment on the house and leadership of Eli, Eli responded with the words, “He is the Lord. May he do what he thinks is right.” (1Samuel 3:18)
There are times in the Bible when we see contrition as a response to God’s judgment resulting in a demonstration of God’s mercy. What if…that would have been Saul’s response? What if…Saul would have recognized and affirmed the anointing on David and used his own life as a call to the nation for obedience to God?
As Saul was trying to kill David we see David faithful to the Lord in showing respect and honor to Saul as long as he was in the position of “God’s anointed one” regardless of Saul’s actions. Many of the Psalms were written as a result of this trying and dangerous time for David. We see him looking to the Lord for protection, wisdom and guidance. The Lord anointed David as King and David had to wait patiently for the final fulfillment of that anointed position to become a reality in his life.
Humility and turning to God is always the best response to disobedience to God
Failures don’t have to be fatal, even in the midst of consequences
How you finish will be remembered more than any other part of your life
When falsely accused, when all is against you, God is working and shaping your heart for His purposes
God’s calling (anointing) His plans and purpose on a life will come to pass in His time