Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Falls of King Saul

"For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king" (1 Samuel 15:23).

We have a tendency to look at Bible characters statically as if they never change. We think of Saul as the wicked man he turned out to be and assume he was only marginally a good man in his early years. The Bible, however, presents Saul as a new Adam, a man of humility, grace, and gifts, anointed by the Spirit and made anew, fully fitted for his tasks. Given these facts, his three episodes of unfaithfulness became all the worse.

Saul’s first fall occurred in 1 Samuel 13. Like Adam, Saul had been given a kingdom. Like Adam, he had been given a bride to protect (the nation). Like Adam, he had been given a test: He was never to offer sacrifice but was to leave that task to the prophets. When the Philistines assembled to fight Israel, Saul and his army gathered at Gilgal. Saul waited for Samuel, but for seven days Samuel did not come. The people were fleeing across the Jordan so Saul took matters into his own hands and offered sacrifice. Just as God accosted Adam shortly after he ate the forbidden fruit, so Samuel showed up the minute after Saul finished his sacrifice. Just as Adam blamed God and Eve, so Saul blamed Samuel and the people. Even as Adam lost his kingdom, so Saul lost his. Most people scattered from him; only 600 were left. But, there was still time to repent.

Jonathan is presented as a perfect judge in 1 Samuel 14, but the tragedy was that he would not become king. Jonathan started a battle designed to purge the Satanic Philistines from the land. Once it began, Saul started to consult the oracle of God but decided not to bother (14:18–19). Instead, he pronounced a foolish vow, forbidding the army to eat anything until the battle was over. This cut God’s people off from the provisions of His land. Unaware of his father’s command, Jonathan found a flow of honey and ate it. The army began to starve, left off fighting, and the battle was inconclusive.
The final and decisive fall of Saul is described in 1 Samuel 15. He was commanded to destroy Amalek completely, but he spared many sheep and King Agag. When Samuel confronted him, Saul blamed the people, and God rejected him (16:14).

Like Saul, who forbade his army to eat when God had made no such command, have you sought to impose man-made rules on God’s people? Seek to command only what God has commanded, and be silent where God has been silent.