“And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”

I Samuel 28:6

Disobedience and desperation are usually not far apart from each other.

Saul was a big man—“head and shoulders taller than the rest” (I Sam. 9:2b).  And, he must have also been a handsome, morally upright young man, for he’s described as one who was “a choice, young man and goodlier individual, better than the rest” (v.2a).

Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised that he was chosen as the first king of Israel, for so often the “visually attractive” is more readily accepted than that which lies beneath the outward veneer.  But, we should also remember, in this case, the kingship was the result of the nation’s willful rejection of God as their rightful Ruler (8:6-19).  And, as we’ll see, Saul proved to be a fit choice for those whom God had “given up to their sinful ways” (cf. Rom. 1:18-32).

In examining his life we find him to be a very capable military leader, having early successes against the thorn-in-their flesh Philistines (13:1-4).  Yet, it would appear these victories intoxicated him, causing him to usurp Samuel’s rightful place as priest by offering an ill-advised sacrifice at Gilgal (vv.5-9).  This angered Samuel and he told Saul “You’ve acted foolishly and disobeyed the Lord God.  Your kingdom would have lasted forever if you’d obeyed; but, now it will depart from you—for God’s looking for someone who knows His heart and responds accordingly” (v.14).

Later on, Saul made as foolish curse and only the courageous efforts of the people kept him from killing his own son, Jonathan (14:1-45).  Then, he demonstrated poor judgment and incomplete obedience once again, which ended up costing him his kingship (15:1-26).  And, Samuel identified the problem as that of pride:  “When you were little in your own sight, God could use you; but, you’ve gotten too big for your britches, forgetting that obeying the Voice of the Lord is better than burnt offerings and sacrifices.  Since you’ve rejected the Word of the Lord, He’s now rejected you” (vv.16-23).

No amount of pleading and weeping could change this (vv.24-33).  God knew that Saul was an untrustworthy instrument who desired to do things his way.  Sadly, during the remaining tragic years of his life an “evil spirit” ruled over him, causing him to twice try to kill David with his javelin (18:10-11, 19:8-10) and even kill his own son, Jonathan, in the same way (20:33).

That’s why the Lord no longer heard Saul’s cries—or at least it seemed that way to him.  And, that’s why he continually sought to track David down and kill him (19:1-27:12).  And, that’s why he visited the witch of Endor to seek counsel from Samuel, who’d died (28:1-25).  He was desperate—and desperate people do foolish, desperate things.

Dear Pilgrim, the Lord said “My spirit shall not always strive (Heb. ‘duwn’—‘to rule, serve as judge or umpire, contend with, execute, rule over, etc.’) with man” (Gen. 6:3).  And, there’ll come a time when He’ll turn us over to our own devices and notions if we keep disobeying Him.  May we spend a few minutes today asking the Holy Spirit to “search us” (Ps. 139:23-24) and make whatever changes are necessary lest we, like Saul, no longer hear God’s Voice.

May 24, 2011