The Kings — The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Part 3
Saul and David
“So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23
“And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.” 1 Samuel 16:11-13
Though David was chosen by God and anointed by the prophet Samuel to be King over Israel, Saul remained king until his death. Despite his irrational and unfounded hate for David, and his arrogance and disobedience of God, time and again God gave him victories over the Philistines. In one of these victories, David figured prominently, though quite by happenstance, or better, by divine purpose.
David’s older brothers, the other sons of Jesse had been enlisted to fight in King Saul’s army against the Philistines and their champion Goliath. As the army was encamped in the field, Jesse sent David to the camp to bring provisions for his sons. But while he was there it happened that he volunteered to take on Goliath single handedly with just a slingshot and five smooth stones. While the rest of the Army cowered in fear, David stood up to the giant even mocking him saying this to the men who stood by.
“And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Samuel 17:26
So, Saul accepts David’s offer, thinking at best, the giant would teach him a lesson and send him running back to Jesse, his father, or at worst he would just become another casualty of war. So Saul offered David his armor but David tried it on and found it to be restrictive and cumbersome. All he needed was the weapons he had used time and again to defend and protect this sheep from the lion, the bear and other predators.
David understood that when he went out to face the giant he did not go out alone, but the hosts of heaven were with him, because God was with him. He did not fear the enormity of his opponent nor did he bemoan the relatively simple nature of his weapons — a smooth stone and a slingshot versus the armies of the Philistines and their giant.
From David’s point of view the giant was at a decided disadvantage. So he took full advantage of the situation, killing the giant with a stone to his forehead. And then taking the giants own sword, cutting off his head and bringing it to the King.
His action humiliated the Philistine armies and sent them packing with the army of Saul in pursuit. Now Saul was pleased with the victory and honored David for slaying the giant, until he heard the women singing David’s praises above those of himself. From that moment Saul hated David and sought on every possible occasion to kill him.
“And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom. And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.” 1 Samuel 18:5-9
But why was Saul so jealous of David? Why was he so angry with him? What transgression had David wrought against Saul? None, but David was favored by God and this angered Saul. Do you recall the sin of Cain over his brother Abel? This is the same spirit at work in Saul. Rather than humbling himself under God’s hands, Saul consistently sought to do things his way no matter how often he failed at it. While on the other hand David just committed himself to obeying God. Even when God delivered Saul into his hands and he could have slain, him he would not touch God’s anointed. He understood that God had established Saul as King and only God had the authority to remove him. It was David’s job to honor and serve the king, despite how he was treated by him. His first allegiance was to God and this he did unwaveringly.
“Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you.” 1 Samuel 24:11-12
But, God gave David a confidant in the house of Saul, his son Jonathan. And they both swore and oath to each other for life and for the perpetual benefit of Jonathan’s descendants when David became King. And David honored that oath all the days of his reign as king.
“And you shall not only show me the kindness of the LORD while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Let the LORD require it at the hand of David’s enemies.” 1 Samuel 20:14-16
Saul finally repents of seeking to kill David and accepts that David is indeed anointed by God to be King over All Israel. David also made a promise to Saul concerning his descendants.
Conflict, controversy and struggle are all common to human life. Things that we think should be simple, logical and strait-forward often turn out to be complicated and fraught with all kinds of obstacles, delays, setbacks and worse yet outright warfare. But when God has declared His will to rest on the one of His choice nothing will prevent it from coming to pass. God will intervene to preserve His anointed.
We may not always see the result of our prayers immediately, though we often do, despite the opposition we may temporarily experience. When Samuel anointed David to be king he was around 20 to 21 years old. In that moment David became king of Israel in the eyes of God, but he was not crowned King until he was 30 years old. During the intervening years he was tried, tested, challenged and buffeted to prepare him to assume the role of a strong, decisive and God established wise leader of his people.
The reigns of Saul and David are a study in vivid contrasts. Saul was committed to serving himself and gaining the dominance of all in his kingdom. David sought only to serve God and be obedient to His commandments. Saul constantly sought vengeance while David sought reconciliation and peace. Saul served God but only to the extent that it please him to do things his way. David sought the Lord and lived submitted to the words of the prophet as the oracles of God, to do His will in all things. David was humble in the service of God. Saul was prideful and thus often insecure about the breadth and depth of his power and authority as king. David coveted nothing but valued true friendship and brotherly love. Saul was jealous of David and of his popularity among the people. He felt threatened by the favor of God on David. But despite knowing that it was God who favored David, he still sought to kill him. That illogic is hard to grasp. Why would he choose to fight against God? But this is precisely the result of rebellion against God. It warps rational thinking to make the one rebelling believe he ha the upper hand and he will prevail, but he never can.
Lucifer was the first to rebel against God and that spirit of rebellion which is as witchcraft still exists and those who are deceived by it have only failure and defeat as their reward.
But those who seek God and desire above all things to please Him, are of the spirit of righteousness in the eyes of God.They will be favored and have good success. Israel had some victories under Saul but they also suffered major defeats and Saul’s actions brought judgment on the people.But those who allied with David were blessed.