Saul

God speaks well of us.

God speaks well of us.

2 SAMUEL 1

Here again, I think David shows us a glimpse of God’s heart in the sad song he penned following the death of Saul and Jonathan. "Saul and Jonathan—in life they were loved and admired, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold." (vs 23-24)

God gives us what we want.

God gives us what we want.

1 SAMUEL 28

Several years ago, Rob Bell wrote a book called Love Wins. It generated a lot of controversy by posing the question of whether or not there is an eternal hell. But the chapter I was most intrigued by was one that asked the question, Does God get what God wants? Bell didn’t provide an absolute answer, but he seemed to insinuate that (since God wants everyone to come to a knowledge of salvation) if everyone wasn’t saved, God wasn’t “great” enough to get what He wants. (At least, that’s what I understood him to be saying.)

God will take care of us.

God will take care of us.

1 SAMUEL 26

David was God’s anointed man for king. The problem? There was already another man in that position. The "logical" thing for David to do would have been to figure out how to get Saul off the throne. After all, as long as Saul was still king, David couldn’t assume his rightful position as God’s anointed. And I wonder what thoughts and emotions must have run through David’s mind as the saga with Saul dragged on and on and on.

God does not retaliate.

God does not retaliate.

1 SAMUEL 24

In this chapter, we see a beautiful picture of God shining through David, the one who was later called "the man after God’s own heart." David has been on the run from Saul for a very long time. Then, suddenly, in a reversal of fortune, Saul enters a cave where David and his men are hiding. David could have easily ambushed Saul; instead, he cut off the corner of his robe. (And even that got to his conscience later on.)

God is not image-conscious.

God is not image-conscious.

1 SAMUEL 23

So, Saul has pretty much given up the weighty matters of being king and has devoted himself full-time to his new hobby: Trying to kill David. The Philistines were still very much an immediate danger to Israel. In fact, at the beginning of this chapter, it was David who saved the people of Keilah from an invasion of the Philistines. But Saul seemed unconcerned with the Philistines and more worried about making sure David wouldn’t live much longer.

God is always trying to get through to us.

God is always trying to get through to us.

1 SAMUEL 22

It is really disheartening to see just how sick and twisted Saul became. How irrational. How unreasonable. And since Ahimelek, the high priest, had helped David (even unwittingly), "the king said, 'You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.'" (vs 16) Wow. This is a far cry from the king who refused to hurt those who spoke against him. This a complete 180—the willingness to destroy not only an innocent man, but his entire family as well.

God is a rock.

God is a rock.

1 SAMUEL 21

I have an old choir song rumbling through my head this morning: ♫♪ My God is a rock in a weary land ♪♫ A shelter in the time of storm ♪♫ Incidentally, these images of God were penned often by David. (One example is found in Psalm 18:2.) How well David must have known and trusted the refuge he found in God, particularly when he was on the run from Saul!

God can't always cure blindness.

God can't always cure blindness.

1 SAMUEL 19

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but think about how absolutely blind Saul was—especially as we got down to the very end. David had fled to Ramah (where Samuel was), and Saul sent a group of men to capture him and bring him back for execution. But, the first group of men got to Ramah and got sidetracked by God’s Spirit. So Saul sent a second group of men to capture David, and they also got detoured by the Spirit. Saul sent a third group of men to get David, and they too were held up by the Spirit.

God tames the wild heart.

God tames the wild heart.

1 SAMUEL 18

What a great contrast in this chapter—of what men are like with and without God. By this time, Saul was obviously aware that God was with David: "Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul." (vs 12) Furthermore, because God was with David, he had success in everything he did. The more Saul tried to derail his success (and even end his life), the more David flourished.

God prefers right to rite.

1 SAMUEL 15

I decided to go with the "softer" title for this blog. My first choice was God doesn’t care about your "good deeds." This was what Saul learned in 1 Samuel 15. He expressly disobeyed God’s command when he went into battle with the Amalekites. Nobody was to be taken alive, and everything that belonged to the Amalekites was to be destroyed.

But Saul didn’t listen to the Lord. Oh, he put everyone to the sword all right. Everyone except King Agag, that is. He took him as a prisoner of war, perhaps to gloat or maybe to torture him for a while. Who knows. And in addition to this, the army plundered everything that was "good"—the sheep, cattle, and lambs. They kept the choicest of everything for themselves.

When Samuel came to meet Saul (knowing that he had violated the Lord’s command), I love his answer to Saul’s declaration that he had carried out all the Lord’s instructions: "But Samuel said, 'What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears?'" (vs 14) Ha! But Saul was adamant that he had obeyed the Lord, saying that he had simply brought the animals back from battle in order to make sacrifices to God. (I think, in his mind, he thought that’s what would make God less angry.)

Photo © Unsplash/Chinh Le Duc

Photo © Unsplash/Chinh Le Duc

"And Samuel said:
Do you think all God wants are sacrifices—empty
rituals just for show?
He wants you to listen to him!
Plain listening is the thing,
not staging a lavish religious production.
Not doing what God tells you
is far worse than fooling around in the occult.
Getting self-important around God
is far worse than making deals with your dead
ancestors." (vs 22-23)

God always tells us the right thing to do. And if we are unwilling to listen and do what is right, God doesn’t care how many rites we try to put in place of our obedience. God doesn’t want our sacrifices; He doesn’t want our good deeds; He doesn’t want our empty worship. He wants us. And if a willing, surrendered heart isn’t part of what we bring to Him, then nothing else matters.

Do you think all God wants are sacrifices?
He wants you to listen to him!

Forget about the rite. Do the right!

Photo © Unsplash/Nina Strehl

Photo © Unsplash/Nina Strehl

God is the author of reason.

God is the author of reason.

1 SAMUEL 14

It’s a little disheartening to see what happened to Saul the further he traveled from the Lord’s plans. He began his kingship as a virtuous man, one who wouldn’t make a decree to destroy those who had spoken against him. But, not too far down the road, he bound his army under an oath, saying, "Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!" (vs 24) He had obviously had a change of heart regarding revenge.

God is not a sore loser.

God is not a sore loser.

1 SAMUEL 11

You know, it’s hard not to think of David when we read about Saul. Knowing how the story is going to unfold, and knowing that it’s David (not Saul) who was eventually called “a man after God’s own heart,” it is hard for me to let Saul’s story just be Saul’s story. Somehow, it always just feels like the prolonged prelude to the story of David. And, in many ways, perhaps it is.