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Legends and Lessons

Legends and Lessons – Saul: The man who could have been (1 Samuel 11:12-15)

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 8-11

Today’s Reflection: 1 Samuel 11:12-15

12) Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13) But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.” 14) Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15) So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

Subject: Saul

Background: After Israel demanded a king of their own, so they could be like the other nations, God instructed Samuel to anoint Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 10:1).  Tall and handsome, Saul had the appearance and bearing of the kings Israel coveted (1 Samuel 9:2; 10:23-24).

The man he was: Looking at the story told in 1 Samuel 9, 10 and 11, we see some interesting things.  An unsuspecting young man chosen to be king.  Anointed by a prophet.  A leader in the face of opposition, willing to show mercy to his opponents.  Victory in battle.  This does sound like a king of Israel.

King David.

This is not how we often think of King Saul, tending to remember the tragic end of his story.  But it’s notable that Saul started out with every advantage to be a great king.  Good character, faith, spiritual guidance and wise council.  So what happened?

The man he became:  If you know the story of King David, you know what King Saul is like at the end of his story.  Fearful, paranoid, self-destructive and unable to hear from God.  You might have assumed that he was destined to be the bad guy in David’s story, that he was just ‘born that way’.  Far from this, God makes it clear that the legacy that became David’s was originally intended for Saul.

1 Samuel 13:13-14 – 13) And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14) But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

The lesson: The difference between King Saul and King David was choice.  David sought to keep God’s Word.  Saul ultimately did not.

It’s not what you’re given, but what you do with it that determines the person you are, and what your eternal destiny will be.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 – 15) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16) If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

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