Saul Made King
One of the issues we raised in the last chapter was Israel’s decision to meet Samuel at Ramah for the purpose of giving them a king. The Israelites had passed a vote of no confidence on his two sons. Samuel was displeased with such a request as it amounted to rejecting God. However, after many prayer sessions, God finally led Samuel to select Saul, the son of Kish in a very rigorous selection process as the very first king of Israel.
Thus, Samuel presented Saul to the people, anointed him with oil and kissed him. He shall reign over the people of the Lord and will save them from the hand of their enemies. To confirm that the Lord had actually anointed Saul prince over his people, He gave him three signs which he (Saul) would see when he left Him. These signs are:
- That two men would meet him by Rachel’s tomb and they would inform him that the ass he was seeking for had been found and that his father was anxious to see him.
- At the Plain of Tabor, he would meet three men on their way to Bethel to worship; one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread and another a skin of wine. They would greet him and give him two loaves of bread which he should accept.
- At the Hill of God, he would meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute and lyre. The spirit of the Lord will come mightly upon him: he would prophesy with them and would be transformed. He charged him that when these signs come to pass, he should do whatever he could lay his hands on for God was with him. Samuel also instructed him to go to Gilgal and wait there for him (Samuel) as he would go there to offer sacrifice. Thereafter, the spirit of God descended on Saul as he began defeating Israel’s enemies here and there. In fact, I Samuel 10:9 says that God gave Saul ‘a new heart’.
Saul’s Disobedience – 1 Samuel 10:1-16; 15:1-19
It was not long after Saul was crowned that he disobeyed God – an act which cost him his throne. God had instructed Saul to wage a war against Amalek and to ‘utterly’ destroy and not take home any war spoil (booties) or loot, but to utterly destroy everything (1 Samuel 15:2-3)
“I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and sucking, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
As expected, God gave Saul victory over Amalek. But rather than to destroy everything as instructed, Saul decided to preserve the best of animals, clothes, and other precious things. To add insult to injury, Saul spared and brought home Agag, king of Amalek. Samuel challenged him. He lied to Samuel that he carried out God’s instructions to the letter, not knowing that already, God had revealed Saul’s sin to Samuel. Samuel challenged him further to explain ?the bleating of the sheep and lowing of the oxen.” Saul defended himself by lying again, trying to exonerate himself:
“They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God.” (1 Samuel 15:15)
It was not so much Saul’s disobedience that annoyed Samuel, but his lies and his attempt to blame others, thereby exonerating himself. At once, Samuel rebuked Saul and pronounced God’s judgement on him.
- The Lord God chose Saul and made him the first king of Israel according to their demand.
- God instructed him to destroy the Amalekites for opposing Israel some years back when they came out of Egypt.
- Saul disobeyed by sparing the king of Amalek Agag, and all that was good – sheep, oxen, etc.
- Prophet Samuel was not happy but rebuked Saul for disobeying God.
Lessons To Learn
- We must be cautious in all that we do. And much more cautious when we are on God’s errand or command.
- Total obedience to God’s command earns great reward.
- We should try as much as possible not to be rash in all we do.
Consequences of Saul’s Disobedience – 1 Samuel 15:20-25; 16:14-23; 31:1-13
Samuel announced Saul’s rejection as king. Consequently, the spirit of God departed from him and an evil spirit came upon him, leading to occasional depression. Once he suffered depression, he could only get a respite or relief from listening to music. It was for this purpose that David came into Saul’s service.
Soon, there was another war, this time against Philistia, and since the spirit of God had left Saul, he was gripped with fear. He therefore went to the witch at Endor to inquire from Samuel’s spirit if it was safe to go to war or not, since God could no longer answer or communicate with him. Saul and his son Jonathan died in that war with Philistia. And this was how the very first king of Israel died in battle, not for inferior ammunition or lack of it, but for disobedience.
Lessons to Learn from Saul’s Disobedience and Punishment And Significance of the Story.
- Men’s righteousness is like a rag (a filthy one for that matter) to God. Rather than to try to please God unwisely, we should instead try to obey his instructions. That will please him more.
- The sin of one person can affect another – Saul died with his son.
- Once we fall out of favour with God, or once we sin, God cannot answer our prayers, hence, Saul could no longer inquire from him after sinning.
- God hates lies. We should learn to be truthful, accept our mistakes and pray for forgiveness.
- We should not try to shift our blame to others.
- Once the spirit of God in us goes out, evil spirit takes over, since nature abhors a vacuum.
- Disobedience leads to disaster and death
- Greed and covetousness are dangerous. So is uncontrollable quest and love for material things. This was what killed Saul. This is a lesson for our leaders.
- We are bound to suffer emotional crises once we fall out of God’s favour, as Saul did, especially when it involves our having to relinquish our hitherto exalted positions.
- We should not allow youthful exuberance to lead to us into making very rash and frivolous decisions.
- Evil communication corrupts good manner.
- Saul at last accepted his failure, he disobeyed God, but took a wrong way of repentance.
- Samuel told him that God had rejected him.
- God’s spirit left him and an evil spirit entered him.
- David became his musician to play down his evil torment.
- Saul could no longer hear from God, so he went to a medium (a witch) to hear from the spirit of the dead.
- And in the war between Israel and Philistia he was killed. That was the biggest consequence of his disobedience.