The sad story of Saul - 14 June 2021

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

There are probably very few stories in the Bible as sad as that of Saul. In spite of being chosen by God to become the first king of Israel, he did not live up to expectations. Does God then also make mistakes? Not at all. We are very quick to lay things that go wrong at God’s door. God does not make mistakes but people do. Saul made many mistakes and worst of all, persisted in doing so.

His kingship started on a high note when he dealt the Ammonites a decisive blow at the first war with them, but in the very next war with the Philistines, the chinks in his armour started to show. When Samuel did not show up in time to offer the sacrifice, and some of his men began deserting him, Saul started to doubt God’s promises and took it upon himself to offer a sacrifice. This disobedience eventually cost him his kingship.

From this point on, things were only to get worse. He had the priests killed for assisting David. When God gave the command to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, Saul allowed his men to keep the best of the sheep and cattle. When confronted about this transgression by Samuel, his excuse was that they kept the livestock to offer as a sacrifice to God. In chapter 15 verse 22, Samuel responds to this lie by saying, “Which does the LORD prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him.”

In the end, Saul even asked the woman in Endor who was a medium, to call up the spirit of Samuel, something that was strictly forbidden by God. His life ended ingloriously when he killed himself during a battle.

What can we learn from this story? God calls people but to follow him is not as easy as we might think. He wants complete obedience. This, we find very difficult, but God will even forgive us our disobedience if we confess it. Confession was the one thing that Saul never did, and he paid the price.

Prayer: Our Father, please help me to be obedient, but above all, please help me to see when I, so many times, lose the way. Please help me to confess it and ask for your forgiveness. You promised to forgive me and that is something I believe one hundred per cent. Amen