We step back a few chapters today to look at Saul. Soon we will go deeper into the era of the kings…some good and many bad. So, we pause today to reflect on why Israel demanded a king. Wait a minute though…Israel already had a king didn’t they? God was their king. God was their provider who often sent prophets and judges for leadership challenges – God provided…he was their King. If you happened to read Ch. 8 for info, you’d find that the leaders of the people of Israel went to Samuel and demanded a king to lead them…they were looking for a change in government. In reality, they were looking for a way out from the rule of God. The elders were rejecting Samuel’s leadership. They were looking for style and clout to keep up with their neighbors…what they didn’t count on was that the style and clout would be for the king’s benefit…and not theirs.
Enter Saul…handsome…the impressive son of an impressive father – you can now start to draw contrasts with David. Saul is a man who knows how to be obedient to authority – one of those non-negotiables…a king who is not the authority but under the authority of God. Like David, God chooses Saul. While Saul is looking for lost donkeys, God is looking for him and so, Samuel anoints Saul and the people of Israel have their first king!
So why include this story? God had warned the people…in demanding a king, they were rejecting God’s ways…something all too familiar especially among the biblical kings. We see this lived out in Ch. 15…Saul was never an out and out rebel against God – he did most of what God said. On a few occasions he substituted his will for God’s…no – there was never absolute defiance…just a nibbling away at the edges of God’s authority. And it is here where we come to see the difference between Saul and David…and a blueprint for future kings and how they act.
Saul is shown to us throughout 1 Samuel as a man to whom God speaks in promise and command but who then modifies God’s words to suit his own convenience. God is the one who is rejected and avoided. Unlike David who made many mistakes, Saul is rejected because he rejected God. We too, make mistakes and have choices…let’s pray that rejecting God is not one of them. It’s hard sometimes but let’s all look to live strong in God’s authority.