9 Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)
Because of his careless attitude towards God’s ways and his later misrepresentations to God’s prophet, Samuel, King Saul disqualified himself from the kingly line of Israel. He had decided to conduct heavenly matters on his own terms rather than God’s, and the Lord was no longer having that from His king.
God had appointed the prophet Samuel to be responsible for all holy sacrifices. King Saul might have had authority over the people and all earthly things, but only Samuel had the authority to approach God with these heavenly ones. During a critical battle, King Saul was under pressure and needed God’s help against the encroaching Philistines. As the prophet Samuel was overdue in coming onto the scene, King Saul decided to perform God’s holy sacrifice himself. It was a bad decision.
Immediately after Saul did this, Samuel arrived, saw what Saul had done, and told him he had acted foolishly. This would be the last straw – now God was disqualifying Saul and the entire tribe of Benjamin from the kingly line. Although Saul would remain in place as king for decades after this, his behavior would become even more ungodly and evil with each passing year.
Samuel confronted King Saul with his error and laid out the consequences.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NKJV)
One interesting aspect of this is that Saul was a Benjaminite, from the tribe of Benjamin, and God had stated back in the book of Genesis that the kingly scepter shall not depart from the line of Judah. Judah’s descendant Nahshon, chief of the tribe of Judah, later led the people through the desert as God had directed Moses. Christ’s kingly line, which would stretch into eternity, was on the throne of David in the line of Judah and was never intended to be in the line of Benjamin.
Yet, Samuel states that God would have continued Saul’s kingdom over Israel forever, yet he was a Benjaminite, not in the line of Judah. How could this be?
God was stating the end from the beginning. God operates both within and outside of our concept of time and can clearly see the future from the beginning. He could see King Saul’s failure as well as King David’s faithfulness, and spoke through the prophets of old, accordingly.
After King Saul’s rejection, God stated that He was seeking a man after his own heart, and implied that He had already given him the command to reign over His people. The man who God had in mind to be the anchor for His coming eternal kingdom, King David, may not even been born yet at this time. But God had picked him, and he was most definitely certain to arrive.
What lesson might God have for us today in all of this? And why would He install Saul as king even though He knew that Saul would fail Him and ultimately be rejected?
First, Saul was a man whose outward appearance appealed in every way to people, but his heart towards God was weak. On the other hand, David would be a person of faith whose heart appealed to God, the One who looks at our true motives, wisdom, and compassion, not just our superficial appearance.
Second, God has a plan of peace for our life, to bless us and to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows the end from the beginning, it is not just a random walk. He wants to share our joys and pains with us, to give us comfort and protection when we need it, and to be a recipient of our gratitude and praise in return.
Third, just as God had prescribed a way to approach Him through Samuel’s sacrifice, He has prescribed a sacrifice for us to approach the Father with, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Saul tried to do it his own way, and the result was rejection. We are advised to stick with God’s plan for a sure salvation – we have His complete assurance for all who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
Are there any other lessons that we can learn from the life of King Saul?
Where am I in danger of trying to do things my own way rather than God’s way? What adjustments can I make?
God had picked David to be Israel’s next king, perhaps before he had even been born. Can you look back to see where God has blessed you in your life, long before you had begun to follow Him? Can you identify a time when you thought you were having “good luck”, but now see that it was a blessing from God?
Perhaps you are not yet following the Lord. Now would be a great time to invite Jesus Christ into your heart to serve Him with a forgiven and joyful heart. He is right there for you.
Father God, we come to You with a heart desiring to fellowship with and follow You, living our life Your way. Help us to live in such a way that IS pleasing to You. We totally rely upon Your grace, mercy, care, protection and blessing. We ask this with thanks, in Jesus’ name, Amen.