Today’s reading has Samuel anointing David to replace Saul as king. The question is, why? Why did God choose Saul, and then regret that decision? Chapters 13 and 14 give us a partial answer.
Saul and his son Jonathan were busy defending the land from many invaders and from the people who still lived there from before the Exodus. In those centuries, the Philistines were the greatest concern. They were Greeks who sailed the Mediterranean and made a living in the import-export business.
They were a special problem for Israel because they had access to all the best weapons of the times. But their weakness was being sailors. To attack Saul’s army, the Philistines had to march uphill and fight in terrain less suited to their skills.
On the other hand, the Hebrews had no smiths, no one to even sharpen their plows, let alone make weapons of war.
Their only real weapon was God.
As we read about Saul in those chapters, we see a man who believes he can do it alone. When he calls on God and receives no answer, Saul does what he wants to do instead of waiting on God. Samuel had already warned Saul about the importance of waiting on God.
In fact, God warned the whole nation about the dangers of following a king instead of God. This warning might be a good point to make in America today. Trump went to Liberty University, said the right things, received Jerry Falwell’s blessing (and Franklin Graham’s as well), and became President with 81% of the white evangelical vote. They believed they were voting for the candidate chosen by God. But did God vote in that election?
In Chapter 8 of 1 Samuel, we read, But when [the people] said, “Give us a king to lead us,” … [God said] it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king…. Warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights. NIV
As a teacher of high school history and government classes, I have studied Presidents in detail. My personal favorites are Jefferson, Lincoln, and Truman, but I can not support them as agents of God. They all failed to adhere to the Biblical teachings in their decision making.
Most importantly, every President, every world leader, has failed to allow God to do all the decision making.
So, what do we do as conscientious voters? First, vote. Second, consider each candidate as a stand-in for Jesus. Does he or she appear—that’s all we have to go on—to live a life of love and concern for others?
Back to Saul. Why did God reject him? To answer that, I would have to know the mind of God; I don’t. The simple answer is that Saul ignored God, that is in the text. Yet, when we compare Saul and David, David’s sin seems even greater—killing Uriah and taking his wife.
In human terms, it is hard to defend David as being closer to God than Saul. But God works on a plane that we can only partially grasp. God sees the inner person, not the surface we see—even as we read about the person in the Bible.
If God is all knowing, why did he choose Saul in the first place? For that matter, why do we often read about God becoming angry? Is it possible that God does not know what He is doing? Is it possible that He is not perfect?
This account of Saul is a good passage to consider these questions for we see God issuing His warning and the warning coming true. God’s anger is for our benefit. God is like the father trying to discipline his boys without laughing at their painted bodies.
God’s plan was for David to become king as the setup for the Messiah. Saul’s role was to prove the dangers of following an earthly king instead of the true King.
Read Dr. Mariottini’s comments on God and anger.
Be righteous and do good.