1 Samuel 14-15

We Tend To Make Lousy Kings.

“I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has again refused to obey me.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the LORD all night.” ­– 1 Samuel 15:11 NLT

Saul had been appointed and anointed king by God. But he somehow forgot the source of his authority and began to believe that he had made himself king. He began to read his own press clippings and bask in the glory of his own reputation. Saul, although reluctant to be king at the start, had begun to get used to his new role. He had begun to like being king. But he forgot that God was His ultimate ruler and authority. God is the one who had put him on the throne and God could remove him at any time. But somewhere along the way Saul began to confuse his authority with God’s. He began to believe that he could act apart from God’s will and do things his own way. And his victories seemed to assure him that he was right. In chapter 14 Saul had put the people  under an oath not to eat anything until they had completely defeated the Philistines. This man-made rule would lead to some significant problems. First of all, it left his own army undernourished and exhausted so that they could not fully carry out their rout of the enemy. And it ultimately led the people to violate the command of God when they, famished and exhausted, slaughtered some of the livestock taken as spoil and ate the meat with the blood – in direct violation of God’s law (Leviticus 3:17). And worse yet, Saul’s own son Jonathan, who had been away fighting the enemy, unknowingly broke his father’s rule by eating honey.

Whenever we try to be the king of our own lives, we can end up making some really bad decisions. Motivated by greed, ruled by our own passions, and focused on our own selfish desires, we can tend to lose sight of reality. When things go wrong, we tend to blame others. We pass the buck. We rationalize and justify our own actions, because we begin to believe that we really are king. We can’t be wrong. This is exactly what happened to Saul. When the people sinned by eating the meat with the blood, he sought to find a scapegoat, someone to blame for the calamity. And he vowed to kill whoever was responsible. When he sought a word from God and didn’t hear anything, he didn’t blame his own sin and impulsive behavior, he looked for someone else to hang the problem on. And when it turned out to be his own son who had violated his precious oath, he treated his own word with the same weight as God’s command and was ready to put his own son to death. What arrogance. What pride. It was only the words of his own men that kept Saul from carrying out his plan.

Saul had become highly selective in his obedience to God. He obeyed when it was convenient. But most of the time he did what HE wanted to do. And in chapter 15 we see the culmination of his arrogant behavior. God clearly instructs Saul to completely wipe out the Amalekites for their opposition to the Israelites when they first entered the Promised Land. But instead of obeying God completely, Saul decides to do things his way. He captures the king of Amalekites alive and then allows the people to keep the best of the spoil for themselves. “Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs––everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality” (1 Samuel 15:7-9 NLT). In other words, Saul partially obeyed. He conveniently obeyed. And his actions caused God to reject him as king. Saul defended his actions. He justified his decisions. And when God refused to accept his excuses, Saul blamed others for his own sin. He even tried to appease God by offering sacrifices to Him from the very spoil he had taken against God’s commands. And God’s response? “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 NLT).

Saul had played king and lost his throne. He had attempted to rule his own life and put a higher priority on his own word and will than God’s. And as a result, he lost his kingship. Are you on your own throne today? Are you attempting to rule your own life? Or is God on the throne of your life? Saul made a lousy king, but so do we.

Father, You are king and no one else. But I so often try to be my own king and rule my own life. I justify my actions and demand that others obey my commands. I want to dictate how my life should go. I want to do what I want to do – so much so that I end up disobeying what You tell me to do. So I am a lot like Saul in many ways. Help me to see my sin and turn from ruling my own life back to You. I want You to rule and reign over every area of my life Lord. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men