Sunday, August 06, 2006

Why I Feel Sorry for Saul

The story of King Saul makes me sad. He did some pretty terrible things in his short reign as king, not the least of which was the slaughter of the priests of the LORD, but I still feel pity for him (see 1 Samuel 22:17-19). Especially in the beginning when things began to go wrong.

First of all, he was not appointed king under the most glorious of circumstances. When the people demanded a king, the Lord God chastised them through Samuel. After they had been properly rebuked, they drew lots to see who would be king. Of course, the lot fell to Saul, and he promptly hid in the baggage. I wish they hadn't found him.

He began to screw up almost immediately. In 1 Samuel 13 he freaked out because the people were leaving after the battle, so he offered an unlawful sacrifice. In chapter 15, he did not obey the Lord's command to kill all the Amalekites and their sheep and oxen because he feared the people of Israel. Basically, Saul was more afraid of his own people than he was of the Lord God, and it cost him terribly.

He lived in constant fear of losing his kingdom, even though he had originally hid in the baggage to keep from becoming king. Because he sought to please the people instead of the Lord, his doom was assured. His lack of respect for the Lord brought about the very thing which he feared.

I think that I feel for Saul because I know the pull to please. It is a rare bird indeed who can go against the grain and not worry about how people feel about him or her afterwards. How many times have I held my tongue when I should have spoken because I feared the loss of friendship, love, or a punch in the nose? How many times have you? It's easy to think of Saul as a weenie for not going out to fight Goliath, but I suggest a more compassionate approach. Yes, he blew it, but Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall, and he was a skilled killer. And in case you forgot, no one else in the army volunteered to fight him either. David was the exception. Most folks I know would have hid in their tent as well.

So I find Saul's story tragic. I wish that he had done better. I wish that he had stayed in the baggage. I wish that he had treated David better, and I wish that he would have repented for his failures to trust the Lord. I find him tragic because I find more Saul in my own soul than David, and I can only hope that when duty calls I will stand the test and not hide in my tent until all is over.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Brad - I really did miss this when I posted my post on being like Saul. I agree Saul feared the people - but I don't think he was afraid they would kill him - I think he was afraid they would reject him as king.

Does not scripture paint Saul as being somewhat obsessed with his own reputation? Think of how Saul wanted Samuel to come and honor him before the elders of Israel when Samuel had just informed him that God had taken the kingdom away from Saul and given it to someone better.

I wouldn't make it the hill I want to die on - but I do think a good case can be made for Saul's downfall having been precipitated by his own, growing self interest.

None of which, I think contradicts anything you have said, but just explaining my take on it.