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1 Samuel 31 – Saul

When Saul is first introduced to us in 1 Samuel 9:1-3 he is described as a handsome man heads and shoulders above the average Israelite – an ideal king in the eyes of the people. Before he meets the prophet Samuel for the first time, we are told that he was looking for the lost donkeys of his father – unsuccessfully. Nevertheless, God tells Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.

Saul ends up being repeatedly disobedient to God’s word spoken to him by the prophet Samuel. Often this is because Saul is afraid of what the people will think of him. This fear of man compels him toward disobedience as happens often when people live in fear of man.

Saul’s handsome features and tall height causes him to be a king who is right in the eyes of the men of Israel. His disobedience shows that God has given Israel a king much like themselves – he does what is good in his own eyes rather than fearing the LORD.

Sometimes an expression of judgment on our evil desires is that God will give us what we desire. Having a king who is good in their own eyes and like themselves is not what Israel needed. They need a king who will be good in the eyes of the LORD (as David will be).

Israel’s sin described in the book of Judges had led them to repeatedly experiencing the covenant curse of being attacked by one’s enemies. Israel should have responded by seeking after God in repentance. Instead, they had asked for a king. God’s judgment was giving them what they wanted – a king who was good in their own eyes, Saul.

By the end of the book of 1 Samuel, Saul has been defeated by the Philistines. Saul, the man of great height, ends up with his head cut off – just like that other man of great height – Goliath. Saul experiences the same judgment of God as that uncircumcised Philistine giant had.  Israel is still defeated by her enemies and the people are scattered over the mountains – lost like Saul’s donkeys had been! A better and different kind of king is needed.

Lessons:

Do not judge by what is impressive to the eyes (handsome features, great height).

It is better to fear the LORD (like David) than men (like Saul).

When God disciplines you for your sin – repent don’t just try to get out from under it.

Thank God we have a better and different kind of king in David’s son, Jesus.