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Poor Choices: Return to King Saul

On Monday, we started digging deeper into King Saul’s beginnings. We found that by not acknowledging his God-given role and authority, Saul set the stage for his own decline. Today, we’re looking at some of the poor choices Saul makes that further separates him from his true identity.

The Passage

Saul, however, was still at Gilgal, and all his troops were gripped with fear. He waited seven days for the appointed time that Samuel had set, but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the troops were deserting him. So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered the burnt offering.

1 Samuel 13:7b-9 CSB

Samuel said to Saul, “You have been foolish. You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. It was at this time that the LORD would have permanently established your reign over Israel, but now your reign will not endure. The LORD has found a man after his own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over his people, because you have not done what the LORD commanded.”

1 Samuel 13:13-14 CSB

Saul answered Samuel, “I have sinned. I have transgressed the LORD’s command and your words. Because I was afraid of the people, I obeyed them. Now therefore, please forgive my sin and return with me so I can worship the LORD.”

Samuel replied to Saul, “I will not return with you. Because you rejected the word of the LORD, the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” When Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the corner of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. Furthermore, the Eternal One of Israel does not lie or change his mind, for he is not man who changes his mind.”

1 Samuel 15:24-29 CSB

Poor Choices

Starting in 1 Samuel 13, Saul steps up to lead the twelve tribes of Israel. He quits avoiding his role. Rather dramatically, he unites the tribes by slicing up his ox and sending it to everyone as a warning if they don’t join him in battle. He pronounces a curse on anyone who eats before the Philistines are defeated, which winds up landing on his son’s head. When the time came to fight the Amalekites, Saul ignores the task to kill everything and avenge the injustice done when the Israelites left Egypt. Instead, he keeps the best of the possessions and imprisons the king.

Basically, Saul does a 180. His actions show his fear and insecurity. He still does not trust God or his God-given abilities to lead the people of Israel. This time, instead of hiding from the responsibility, Saul relies on intimidation to bring the people together. It’s the same negative perception of the world that plagued him when Samuel anointed him. Now, his fearful perception is strengthening, and Saul’s poor choices exacerbate the problem. His fears come true. God rejects him. His control of the tribes weakens.

In his last encounter with Samuel, Saul shows remorse. He reaches for Samuel’s robe, and it tears. I imagine Saul relives this day over and over in his mind. His poor choices pile up, and Saul does not know how to cope.

Do you agree that Saul’s poor choices influenced his mental decline? Let’s talk about it in the comments! Stayed tuned next Monday when we see Saul’s mental state affected by irrational anger.

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7 thoughts on “Poor Choices: Return to King Saul

  1. Saul’s poor choices without a doubt contributed to his mental state. Trust in the Lord, brings rest and peace and hope which is necessary to alleviate the stress that leading a country could bring

    1. That’s an excellent point! I don’t know how someone could cope with that kind of stress without the Lord’s help, honestly. I certainly couldn’t! 😂

      1. Amen 🙏🏽

  2. How quick (and foolish) we are to rely on our own strength and resources, when the key to strength is to rely upon God (Psalm 28:7) and spend time with him. That’s surely why David was able to handle the stresses of leadership better than Saul. He cried unto the Lord for mercy and relief (Psalm 143:1). He drew encouragement from meditating on all God’s works (v. 5). He affirmed his trust (v. 8). I don’t remember Saul ever humbling himself before the Lord to pray that way. Instead, his prayers sounded more like orders, as in 1 Samuel 14:41: “Give me the right answer.” You’ve presented a relevant lesson, Ashton, even though David and Saul lived long ago! P.S. Thank you for becoming a follower of my blog, From the Inside Out. I am honored, and pray you’ll find the posts meaningful whenever you’re able to visit.

    1. Thankful you for that thoughtful response! I think you are absolutely right about David’s reliance on God. I haven’t read Psalm 143 in awhile, so I’m going to reread it today! You’re very welcome for the follow, and I look forward to reading your posts! You clearly have a lot of wisdom to share. 😊

  3. […] discussed how King Saul’s insecurity and poor choices affected his mental health. His naturally negative perspective compounds the stress of establishing […]

  4. […] was anointed as a lad but not appointed until later.  Imagine living that life under the nose of King Saul. He served under him and you were married to his daughter as well as best friends with his son. But […]

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