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.
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
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.