Day 14: The Fulfillment of Promise… The Era of Kings (Part 1 Samuel and Saul)

Burden: To establish God’s throne and to extend his rule and reign throughout all the earth.

  • Going back to the Garden of Eden, God makes it clear that God’s plan and heart has always been for the whole earth. It was never just for Eden, or for Canaan, the promise land, but to extend his Lordship into all the earth.
  • Gen 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
  • From the very beginning, scripture is clear, God wants to fill the whole earth with his image through Adam and Eve. Now he wants to use us to extend his kingdom, his image, his ruling and reigning activity throughout the whole earth.

Five significant big picture perspectives of first and second Samuel that will help you understand these two books.

1.     I and II Samuel cover the span of time starting in 1171 B.C. through 1015 B. C. giving us about 150 years. 

2.   Samuel himself was probably the main author of the various source documents used by the final compiler of these twin       books; I Chron. 29:29 As for the events of King David's reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of       Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer, 30 together with the details of his       reign and power, and the circumstances that surrounded him and Israel and the kingdoms of all the other lands.

3.     I and II Samuel cover’s the close of the age of the Judges, and the beginnings of the monarchy in Israel under Saul,              and then the establishment of the kingdom under David.

4.     In other words, I and II Samuel deal principally with the establishment of the United Kingdom under a King.   

5.     I and II Samuel cover the lives of three men; the prophet Samuel who was the last judge, a man named Saul who                  became the first king in the failed attempt of establishing the kingship by the wisdom of men (I Samuel). And then the            established Kingdom of Jehovah under David, who was chosen by God according to his standards. (II Samuel).

         And as a side note, it is interesting to note the contrasts between fathers and their sons; Eli and his sons, Samuel and            his sons, and Saul and his son Jonathan.



I.      SAMUEL —who closes the era of the judges (8:1.2) 1 Sam. 1—8

     A.    His birth (Ch. 1)

     B.    His molding (Ch. 2,3)

     C.    His ministry (Ch. 44)


II.    SAUL (I Sam. 9—15’) — Reigns for 40 years

     A.    His quick rise in greatness (Ch. 9—12)

     B    His quick failure due to weakness (Ch. 13—15)


III.   DAVID (I Sam 16 — 2 Sam. 24) He was persecuted for 7 years; then reigns for 40 years (7 years over Judah, and 33                years over Judah and Israel;) and David establishing Jerusalem as their capitol.

      A.    David’s calling and Anointing; Ch. 16

      B.    David’s Training and Disciplines; Ch. 17 - 2 Sam. 4

      C.    David’s Kingdom Established; 2 Sam. 5 - 24

            1.     Jerusalem established; the ark recovered; the temple planned; Ch. 5—10

            2.     David’s sin and his punishment ; Ch. 11—21

            3.     David’s Epitaph; Ch. 22,23,24.    His quick failure due to weakness (Ch. 13—15)


III.   DAVID (I Sam 16 — 2 Sam. 24) He was persecuted for 7 years; then reigns for 40 years (7 years over Judah, and 33                years over Judah and Israel;) and David establishing Jerusalem as their capitol.

      A.    David’s calling and Anointing; Ch. 16

      B.    David’s Training and Disciplines; Ch. 17 - 2 Sam. 4

      C.    David’s Kingdom Established; 2 Sam. 5 - 24

            1.     Jerusalem established; the ark recovered; the temple planned; Ch. 5—10

            2.     David’s sin and his punishment ; Ch. 11—21

            3.     David’s Epitaph; Ch. 22,23,24


Setting the scene: A quick review of history from Abraham to the present!

  • Abraham through faith gave birth to a nation.
  • Moses led that nation out of slavery to the mountain of God, where they received the law, the means by which God’s image would be restored.
  • Joshua took those people into the promise land and broke the main power of the people of Canaan leaving only a few pockets of resistance.
  • After Joshua’s death, Israel had been commanded to destroy all their enemies until the land was fully occupied by Israel.
  • Israel failed to comply, which allowed those small pockets of resistance to rise and grow. Israel then went on to violate their covenant with God on two other fronts.
  • First, they began to intermarry with the Canaanite women which then secondly, led to them to begin worshipping other Gods.
  • As promised by God, any breach of their covenant would end up by them experiencing negative consequences. In this case, their enemies rose and began to oppress them.
  • It was this oppression that caused God’s people to cry out for deliverance, in which God responded by rising Judges whose sole burden was to deliver God’s people from their enemies.
  • Throughout the whole time of Judges, God raised up ordinary gifted people who had to overcome some personal disability. They then went on to defeat Israel’s enemy. Unfortunately, this was always shorted lived because after a season of peace and prosperity, God’s people drifted away from God and began to worship idols again. After a time, they began to cry out to God because of the oppression and repent, causing this whole cycle to be repeated. This happened twelve times!
  • By the time we come to the end of the book of Judges, God's purposes and plans for Israel seems stalled. Israel has not occupied the land, nor have they subdued their enemies. Furthermore, Israel is now characterized by a spirit of independence not seen before. We see this in the very last verse of Judges.
  • Judg 21:25 In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
  • What is being promoted here, is the idea, that Israel needed a king to break them out of this death trap that Israel has been in for the last 300 years. Israel needed someone to unified them and help them subdue their enemies!
  • But the question is who? But not just who, but what kind of person do they have to be to accomplish Gods purposes God’s way? So, its with this in mind that we come to the books of first and second Samuel!


The Main Enemy identified in first Samuel are the Philistines:

  • It is their presence and influence that lies behind so much of the story of the book of Samuel. Specifically, it was the ongoing threat of the Philistines that God used to push the Israelite tribes towards unification and the protection that a monarchy might provide them.
  • Interestingly, the Philistines were not a people who were naturally born in the land of Canaan. They were a people who had earlier migrated in ships from the Greek island of Caphtor.
  • They had originally tried to occupy Egypt but were rebuffed. So, they turned their eyes towards the coast of Israel where they built fortified cities. This why according to Egyptian writings they were called "Sea peoples".
  • To make matters worse. it was the beginning of the iron age and the Philistines had a monopoly on iron smelting technology which gave them superior firepower. Meaning that not only did they have the biggest guy fighting for them (Goliath), but they had the biggest guns (iron swords and chariots). This of course stacked the deck against the advancement of God's plan for the world.
  • Now, after reading all this, one might conclude that this is a problem that could not be overcome. But it is not! Like all the other problems that have risen in attempting to stop God purposes, whether it was the sinful generation of Noah or towers built to the heavens or Egyptian gods or leadership failure or idolatry, God overcomes them all! Just like he so easily defeated chaos in the story of Genesis, nothing was going to stop the purposes of God.


For our purposes we are going to divide first Samuel into four parts. A) Samuel the last Judge B) Transition between Judges to Kings C) Saul, Israel’s first King D) David, a man after God’s heart

  • This transition from Israel being led by judges to being led by kings was a big thing! It was the fulfillment of a prophetic word given to Moses and expressed in the book of Deuteronomy.
  • But for this to happen, God would have to raise up the last judge, who this time would also become a prophet! The greatest prophet since Moses, whose task would be to bring forth of a Godly king! His name was Samuel, and the beginning of 1 Samuel focuses on him.
  • Our story starts with woman named Hannah, who was not able to conceive a child. So, she sought God to relieve her of her shame. In that day, being barren was seen as a sign of disapproval from God. On the other hand, if you did have children, then God was blessing you because his favor was on you.  
  • So, she pleaded with God that he would give her a child, and then promised God that she would dedicate her child to his service.
  • God answers her prayer, and she gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Samuel. Then to honor her promise, she gave her baby boy to Eli, who was the local priest at the time. It is here we begin to witness how God began to train Samuel as a prophet.


A)   Samuel

  • 1 Sam 3:1-10 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
  • Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
  • The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
  • What we have here is a classic example of how we grow in our relationship with God! Here are seven keys to spiritual growth taken from this passage:

           1.     We must put ourselves in a place where we can minister to the Lord. Meaning, we need to be involved in a                            church somewhere.

           2.     We must find someone to mentor us much like Eli mentored Samuel. It was under his watchful eyes, that Samuel                   was able to grow in his ability to hear God.

           3.     Scriptures says there was a famine concerning the word of the Lord. 1 Sam 3:1 In those days the word of the                         Lord was rare; there were not many visions.  In other words, there was a desperate need for divine revelation.                       And sadly, it is not much different than what is going on today as a large part of the church becomes less and                       less biblical, lacking so of the most basic understanding of what the Bible. This partly resulted in creating a                             hunger for God’s word, something all of us must have if we want to grow!

           4.     Notice where Samuel was sleeping! He slept in the temple, next the Ark of covenant! Remember, the ark was                         where the physical manifested presence of God dwelt! And only the high priest could go into the presence of                       the ark once a year to offer sacrifice on behalf of Israel. This breach of temple etiquette shows us how far Israel                     had fallen away from God. Nevertheless, this is exactly where Samuel needed to be to begin growing in his                           ability to hear God’s voice. Implying that the key to us learning to hear God voice is by us spending as much                         time as we can in God's presence!

           5.     God first spoke to Samuel by calling him by name, a sign of intimacy and familiarity. Interestingly, Samuel did not                   recognize that it was God who was calling him. He was not able to discern that the voice he was hearing was                      God’s! This is the first lesson all of us must learn. We all go through a learning curve of being able to distinguish                    what is God's voice and what is not God's voice. Fortunately, Samuel had Eli to help him out! Today, we have the                    word of God to help us out. The more you know and understand Scripture, the more you will be able to                                  distinguish God’s voice from all the other voices that are trying to vie for your attention.  

          6.     Eli teaches Samuel the right heart and attitude one should have when it comes to responding to the word of                          God. "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening" In other words, we all need to have a servant’s heart, one that is                  humble and willing to obey like a servant would to their master. From a New Testament perspective, this is they                    key to avoiding the religious trap that James warns believers of.  James 1:22-23 But don't just listen to God's                        word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

           7.     Lastly, the Psalms teaches us to "Be still, and know that I am God! (Ps 46:10) In other word, we need to learn                        how to slow down, and stop being so busy. It is only when we take time to simply sit and be still in God’s                                presence, that we become acquainted with God's voice.

  • Years later, Samuel became the next prophet that God would use to bring in the next era that reveals yet another aspect of God's heart.
  • First, there was the patriarchs who taught us about faith.
  • Then came the priesthood who showed us the necessity of having a servant’s heart so God’s image could be restored in our lives.
  • Next, God raised up judges, who’s purpose was to set God’s people free! It was only when Israel was able to overcome their enemies, that they could experience the peace and prosperity that was their inheritance from God!
  • All this was necessary to lay the ground work for the rise of Kings, whose primary purpose as we are going to see, was to extend the kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God throughout all the earth!


B)    Transition from Judges to Kings

  • The book of Samuel is essentially the story of a major transition from the rule of judges to the rule of a king.
  • This shouldn’t surprise us, because this was all predicted in the book of Deuteronomy.
  • Deut 17:14-20 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
  • When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees  and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
  • One of the major purposes of the book of Samuel was to define the monarchy as a gracious gift from God. Their desire for a king, therefore was not in itself in error despite Samuel's initial displeasure. But there is an issue, which now takes center stage. 
  • The burden is not just having a king, but the right King!
  • Based on this Deuteronomy passage, the issue is not whether Israel has a king, but what kind of king they will have. As we just read, the king needs to be both faithful to God's ways and display his character. He is to mediate on God’s law and lead God's people in obedience to Him.
  • But unfortunately, at this time, Israel had once again taken their eyes off God as their source and were looking for another source that would protect them from their enemies and rescue them from their roller coaster existence. This becomes very clear in their conversation with Samuel as he was nearing the end of his life.
  • 1 Sam 8:4-9 Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. "Look," they told him, "you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have."
  • Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. "Do everything they say to you," the Lord replied, "for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don't want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them."
  • As you can see, Israel was not interested in the kind of king that God had for them! They didn’t want to trust God or his plan for them! They just wanted a king; "like the other nations have." They wanted a military leader because they thought that this was the answer to all their problems, because that was what everyone around them was doing. This is why God said they were rejecting him!
  • So once again, we see them reenacting the scene of the Garden of Eden where humanity is wanting their independence and take matters into their own hands. And God, not willing to violate their free will, said ok, so be it. But you need to understand the consequences of your choice!
  • 1 Sam 8:10-18 So Samuel passed on the Lord's warning to the people who were asking him for a king. "This is how a king will reign over you," Samuel said. "The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment.
  • The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants.
  • He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you."
  • Now, you would think after hearing all this that they would come to their senses. But noooo! They wanted their way! When I read this, I think of a little child throwing a tantrum, totally oblivious to the consequences of their actions. They want what they want no matter what!
  • Unfortunately, the consequences of taking matters into their own hands would leave them enslaved to the very thing that they created. And this enslavement would rob them of all the best that life was meant to be! It would lead to the falling away of their children, the loss of the best of their crop and the loss of personal wealth. None the less, they would not be deterred!
  • 1 Sam 8:19-22 But the people refused to listen to Samuel's warning. "Even so, we still want a king," they said. "We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle."
  • So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, and the Lord replied, "Do as they say, and give them a king." Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.
  • Thus, God in his wisdom and sovereignty allowed them to get their way the first time around with a guy name Saul. Sadly, Israel once again had to learn the hard way. Saul would represent a king of their own choosing, according to their own standards, which in the end would be a complete catastrophe!
  • One can only ask; How long oh lord before we learn your ways are better than ours?

C)   Saul

A great Beginning...

  • 1 Sam 9:1-21 There was a Benjamite, a man of standing… He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites-a head taller than any of the others.
  • This is everything that the world would hold up in value! Tall, dark and handsome!
  • 1 Sam 9:20-21 And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father's family?" Saul answered, "But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?"
  • Not only is he impressive physically, but he is seemingly humble at the same time.
  • 1 Sam 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?
  • Samuel anointed him with oil which was always symbolic of God's Spirit. And that symbolism came to pass as seen in this next passage;
  • 1 Sam 10:9-11 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying. When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, "What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?"
  • Wow! What a great start! Saul had a great beginning, a good heritage, stature, he was obedient, he was anointed and humble. He was great and he didn't know it!
  • So, what went wrong? As his life story plays out, we see in the end, he becomes consumed with jealousy to the point of madness that ultimately leads to the complete destruction of his family and him committing suicide! Along the way, he even becomes possessed with an evil spirit.
  • His story is heart wrenching! Especially to those of us who like all our stories to have happy endings! But clearly, this is no fairytale! So how are supposed to respond to a story like this?
  • Answer: With questions! And a deep desire to find out exactly what happened so that we do not end up making the same mistakes! How can anyone have such a great beginning only to fall and bring such shame and disgrace upon himself, that left so many of God's people hurt and wounded?
  • And as we press into his story, we discover one glaring but obvious flaw…

 Pride... the source of his demise!

  • How could such a thing have happened? Pride! This will always hinder the kingdom of God. Let me show three different ways his pride manifested itself!

1.     1 Sam 13:3-4 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the            trumpet blown throughout the land and said, "Let the Hebrews hear!" So all Israel heard the news: "Saul has attacked        the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become a stench to the Philistines."

  • Please notice who did the work and who got the credit. It was Jonathan who actually attacked and defeated the Philistines, but it was Saul’s name that was lifted up and given the credit to! This kind of thing, where people take credit for things they didn’t do, happens all the time and is one of the first signs of pride creeping into somebody's life.

2.     1 Sam 13:4-14 And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal. The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with              three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went        up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that            their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.

  • Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter. So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings." And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
  • "What have you done?" asked Samuel. Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash,  I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."  "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."
  • It’s so interesting how when people are full of pride, they start making assumptions, and start doing things they know they shouldn’t, but somehow feel like they can because the rules don’t apply to them.
  • When a person is caught up in pride, they think they are the center of world, and everything now needs to happen according to their timetable. And when it doesn’t they get impatient, and do stupid things. And to make matters worse, they make up excuses to justify everything they do.
  • Saul’s pride disqualified him from being the kind of King God was looking for. God knew this and had already chosen a poor shepherd boy named David, who quite possibly was only eight years old. Who says God doesn't start with us when we are young?

3.     1 Sam 15:1-3 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now        to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to          Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy                    everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and              sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

  • 1 Sam 15:8-9 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs-everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
  • 1 Sam 15:10-25 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, "Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal." When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD's instructions."
  • Saul’s pride had become so dominant in his life, that he had become blind to the ramifications of his actions. Disobedience had now become a way of life! From here on, we watch how Proverbs 16:18 is played out in Saul’s life. I like how message puts it:
  • Prov 16:18 First pride, then the crash, the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
  • Samuel goes on confront Saul, but instead of repenting, rationalize and justify his actions. Saul saw himself as only doing what was right and looking out for God’s real interest. At least his version of what’s best for God. Forget what God told him, he knew better!
  • It really is amazing the number that pride does on us. It totally turns our reality upside down!
  • 1 Sam 15:14 But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest."
  • Talk about being in denial and totally rationalizing and justifying his actions.
  •  1 Sam 15:16 "Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." "Tell me," Saul replied. Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes..
  • There it is, the bane of his existence, Pride. At one point you were humble, but no longer!
  •  1 Sam 15:17...did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.' Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?"
  • "But I did obey the LORD," Saul said. "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal."
  • His pride had completely blinded him to his own reality. He had come to believe his own lies as being true. So how could he serve the lord as king any longer? He was no longer capable of serving the Lord! Remember the primary role of the king was lead God’s people in obedience to God word, to which he was now totally blind too.
  • 1 Sam 15:22 But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 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."
  • Notice the depth of Saul’s transgression! 1 Sam 15:23 Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king." NLT
  • This verse is meant to be a wake-up call! When we hear the words witchcraft and idol worship, we know intuitively that these things are bad! This verse then meant to warn us to just how tragic Saul’s life had become.
  • Furthermore, this verse is telling us that rebellion and stubbornness are as bad as idol worship and witchcraft. In other words, these things should not be downplayed, nor should we make light of them, but approached in the same way we would approach witchcraft and idol worship.
  • These two attitudes of rebellion and stubbornness are the open doors that the enemy uses to attack us! These are the two doors the enemy used to get into Saul’s life that in the end, led to insanity and suicide! He had a chance here to save himself, but it would have required great humility. He could have stepped down out of his kingship, but his pride had too great of a hold on him!
  • 1 Sam 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned. I violated the LORD's command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.
  • Once again, we see the folly of pride. He was blind to his own heart! This statement was just another rationalization of his sinful behavior. He was still not willing to take responsibility for his life. We know that no real repentance happened here because his life never changed!
  • That just leaves us with one last question. Is there a way we can avoid the snare Saul fell into? And the answer is yes! Especially when it comes to people being brought into leadership.
  • The kind of pride that Saul struggled with came from in part, of being untried, untested, when it came to his character. As we are going to see in David's life, he had a good beginning too, but he went through seven years of being tested in the wastelands where he learned his own strength or ingenuity wasn’t enough and how much he needed God in every area of his life! From that , he learned how to walk in covenant with his God before he became king. Unfortunately, Saul never had that chance, as he was thrust into this position without any training whatsoever.  
  • I wonder if was this story that inspired the apostle Paul when writing to his young apprentice Timothy about the requirements to set someone into leadership. Paul wrote; 1 Tim 3:6-7 He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up.


Saul’s death:

  • 1 Sam 31:1-6 the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed all three of his sons...
  • The fighting grew fierce around Saul , and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.  Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me."
  • But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
  • What a tragic story of one who had such potential, such a great beginning, but then lost it all at the end. Personally, I believe that this is a battle that all people struggle with. Pride assails us all!
  • And obviously, from news throughout the years, not every believer succeeds in this war! I am sure we all know and have read stories of believers who had great beginnings, but then had tragic ends! And unfortunately, the greater influence one has, the greater the negative impact their fall has on people.
  • I find it interesting that according to the latest stats on ministers, 1,800 pastors leave the ministry every month! Clearly, the battle for one’s integrity is great. Making Saul’s life lesson one we all need to learn!