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March 2, 1997

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King Saul's Epitaph

Lately my personal reading has found me in 1 Samuel, reading about Saul and David. Right "now" Saul is still chasing David around, trying to kill him. But I've been reminded again about the total difference between these two men. 'Just thought I would share a few observations about Saul today. And maybe we can discuss David a bit later.

The tragedy begins with Israel's dissatisfaction with God. Samuel is now old, and his sons are not godly. And Israel whines for a king. God selects Saul.

What kind of person was Saul? Visually he really impressed the people. He was head-and-shoulders taller than any other Israelite. (1Sam10:23) And Samuel proclaims to Israel..."do you [SEE] him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?"(vs24) Here was somebody, so they thought, to "fight [their] battles"(8:20) for them.

Initially, what kind of qualities did Saul possess? He followed God, seeking Him for direction to find the lost donkeys.(9:6-7) And when he found himself being emulated as future king, his humility is evident, "Am I not...of the smallest tribes of Israel..and my family the least of all the families..."(9:21) And when it was time for the coronation, he was hiding out from the people.(10:22)

In addition it says, "God gave him another heart."(10:9) And he found himself "among the prophets." So far, so good....so it would seem.

Saul reigned a total of 32 years. But by the second year of his reign, already, his faithfulness to God waned. When he found his own leadership skills were not enough to keep his troups from fleeing because of the enemy, he took it upon himself to offer the requisite sacrifices.(13:9) He did not have the faith to wait for Samuel to come and offer them properly. And Samuel tells him, "you have acted foolishly..you have not kept the commandment of God..your kingdom will not continue..God has sought for a man after His own heart."(13:13-14) This should have been a wake-up call to Saul to get his spiritual life in order.

On another occasion God commanded, "Utterly destroy Amalek."(15:3) He went and accomplished a military victory, but did not wholly obey; but saved the king, livestock and choice wealth.

As he meets Samuel, he is so devoid of truth that he rejoices, "I have performed the commandment of the Lord."(15:13) Samuel asks, "what's this bleating of the sheep in my ears..?" Oh..."they're for sacrifice to the Lord [your] God."(vs15)

You notice the two sad things here. He is so out of touch with God, he apparently doesn't even realize he has disobeyed God's command. And furthermore, God is no longer "personal" to him. He is not obeying God FROM HIS HEART. 'Calls God, "your" God.

From there and onward, things continue to go downhill. He whines when he doesn't get personal attention he feels is "due" him. When David kills Goliath, he is jealous of him. On numerous occasions he tries to pin David to the wall with a javeline. The reason? Where earlier it said, "God gave him another heart" now, "the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him."(16:14) Yes...he was "spirit-filled" ...but with a small "s" ...not God's Holy Spirit.

When things are getting really bad FOR SAUL, he even stoops to inquiring of a medium. Rather than repenting and turning to God, he sought the advice of Satan.

What was his epitaph? "So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse." (1Chron 10:13-14)

Now, Samuel had a conversation with Saul, "When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? ..why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD?" Saul said, "But I have obeyed..the PEOPLE took of the plunder..to sacrifice to the LORD your God."

Samuel responds, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offering and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."(~15:17-23)

David, who replaced Saul as king..."a man after His [God's] own heart"(13:14) ...put it this way,

"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise. (Ps 51:16-17)


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