A Godly Response To Ungodliness.

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:

“Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
    How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
    publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
    lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.

“You mountains of Gilboa,
    let there be no dew or rain upon you,
    nor fields of offerings!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
    the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

“From the blood of the slain,
    from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
    and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
    In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
    they were stronger than lions.

“You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
    who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
    who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

“How the mighty have fallen
    in the midst of the battle!

“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
    I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
    your love to me was extraordinary,
    surpassing the love of women.

“How the mighty have fallen,
    and the weapons of war perished!” – 2 Samuel 1:17-27 ESV

What is the normal reaction someone has to the failure or fall of an enemy? It probably isn’t to compose a beautiful poem or song lauding their accomplishments. Most people wouldn’t go out of their way to praise the one who had stood against them and caused them pain and suffering. No, the most likely response would be a sense of relief mixed with a somewhat veiled form of glee. Any outward expressions of sorrow and regret would be the result of good etiquette. For most, their true response would remain hidden from view. Inside, they would be celebrating what could only be seen as the wicked getting their just desserts.

But it is amazing to see how David reacted to the death of Saul. Here was a man who had made it his sole mission in life to kill David, hunting him down relentlessly and making his life a living hell. Two different times David had spared the life of Saul, receiving Saul’s word that he would no longer pursue him. But those words proved empty and Saul’s promises, unreliable. He continued to treat David with contempt and took every opportunity to bring about his death.

But when David heard that Saul was dead, he did not rejoice. There were no expressions of relief or prayers of thanksgiving to God for having delivered him from his enemy. No, David mourned. Now, it would be easy to say that most of David’s sorrow was directed at his friend Jonathan, the son of Saul, who was also killed on the field of battle that day. But this lament won’t allow us to draw that conclusion. David goes out of his way to express his sorrow over the death of Saul, the very one who had, on two different occasions, tried to kill David by his own hands. He even praises the life of the one who had sought his death.

For there the shield of the mighty heroes was defiled;
    the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil. – 2 Samuel 1:21 NLT

The bow of Jonathan was powerful,
    and the sword of Saul did its mighty work.
They shed the blood of their enemies
    and pierced the bodies of mighty heroes. – 2 Samuel 1:22 NLT

How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan! – 2 Samuel 1:23 NLT

O women of Israel, weep for Saul – 2 Samuel 1:24 NLT

This lament reveals a great deal about David. It was not that David was above seeking vengeance or wishing ill-will on those who proved to be his enemies. We can see in Psalm 28 that David had the capacity for calling down the wrath of God on his enemies.

Do not drag me away with the wicked—
    with those who do evil—
those who speak friendly words to their neighbors
    while planning evil in their hearts.
Give them the punishment they so richly deserve!
    Measure it out in proportion to their wickedness.
Pay them back for all their evil deeds!
    Give them a taste of what they have done to others.
They care nothing for what the Lord has done
    or for what his hands have made.
So he will tear them down,
    and they will never be rebuilt! – Psalm 28:3-5 NLT

But throughout his ongoing conflict with Saul, David viewed him as the Lord’s anointed. He was the king of Israel, appointed by God, and therefore, worthy of honor and respect. To attack Saul would have been to attack God. To dishonor the king would be to show disrespect to the One who had placed him on the throne in the first place. But there is more here than just a respect for a position. David legitimately loved Saul. He saw him as a father figure. When David had the first opportunity to take Saul’s life, he referred to him as “father,” assuring him, “May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you” (1 Samuel 24:12 ESV). Later on, in chapter 26, David had a second chance to take Saul’s life, but declined, referring to himself as Saul’s servant and telling him, “Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation” (1 Samuel 26:24 ESV). David had served in Saul’s court. He had been Saul’s armor bearer. He had been at Saul’s side in battle and even in the throne room when Saul did battle with an evil spirit. David would play his lyre to calm Saul’s troubled mind. As a result, Saul had treated David like a son. He had even allowed David to marry his daughter. And David experienced no joy at Saul’s death. His heart was broken.

The king was dead. His best friend was gone. The armies of Israel had been defeated. The kingdom was demoralized. And the pagan Philistines were celebrating their victory over the God of Israel. David had no cause for joy. He had no reason to gloat or celebrate demise of his former pursuer. He had learned to see things from God’s perspective and there was no joy in heaven. God was not celebrating the death of Saul and the fall of Israel to the Philistines. God finds no joy in the fall or failure of His people. So why should we? In fact, the Scriptures make it clear that God doesn’t even rejoice in the death of the wicked.

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” – Ezekiel 18:23 NLT

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” – Ezekiel 18:32 ESV

“As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?” – Ezekiel 33:11 NLT

David was a man after God’s own heart. If that phrase means anything, it means that David shared God’s compassion and concern for His people. David may not have like what Saul had done to him. He may not have enjoyed the suffering he had to endure at the hands of Saul. But he still viewed Saul as the king of Israel and as a son of God. Saul’s death brought David no pleasure, because he knew it brought no pleasure to God. So he mourned. He wept. He lamented. And he celebrated. Not his victory over Saul, but the life and legacy of Saul. He honored the man who had dishonored him. David offered praise for the life of the man who had offered rewards to anyone who would take the life of David. Not exactly a normal response. But it is a godly response.

Jesus Himself provided us with the godly response to wickedness in our lives. And even now, it goes against the grain. It pushes against our normal predisposition. But it provides us with the godly reaction to ungodliness and the righteous response to unrighteousness.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:42-48 NLT

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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The Transfer of Power.

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord‘s anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord‘s anointed.’” – 2 Samuel 1:1-16 ESV

The Bible is full of irony, and this story is a case in point. Saul, having taken his own life by falling on his own sword, was left on the field of battle, his body unprotected and easy pickings for the Philistines soldiers to find. But according to this story, an Amalekite got to Saul before the Philistines did. He took Saul’s crown and armlet and made his way to Ziklag, having concocted a false version of the events surrounding Saul’s death, in hopes that David would reward him for having killed Saul. But the irony in all of this is that this man, who falsely took credit for Saul’s death and stole his crown and armlet, was an Amalekite. All the way back in 1 Samuel 13, Saul was commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites, completely wiping out every man, woman and child. But Saul was disobedient to God. He failed to do what God had commanded him to do. And as a result the Amalekites were alive and well. In fact, the second point of irony is that this man made his way to David, proudly proclaiming his Amalekite ethnicity, totally unaware that David had just defeated and plundered his countrymen for having raided his city and capturing its inhabitants. In other words, this young man picked a bad time to be an Amalekite and to brag about killing the king of Israel with his own hands.

The fact that the account of chapter one of 2 Samuel differs slightly from that of chapter 31 of 1 Samuel has caused some consternation over the years. But it is not a case of a discrepancy in the Bible. It is simply the facts related to the events. Chapter 31 of 1 Samuel records what actually happened as it relates to Saul’s death and the aftermath. Nowhere does it mention his crown or armlet. Only his head, decapitated body and armor were taken by the Philistines. Had they found something as significant as his crown, it would probably been mentioned. But according to the story in chapter one of 2 Samuel, the crown had been taken by an Amalekite who was plundering the bodies of the fallen. And he was not mentioned in the closing chapter of 1 Samuel, because it was a record of Saul’s death, not David’s reaction to it. The author reserved the events surrounding the Amalekite and his plundering of Saul’s crown and amulet until later.

And the Amalekite mercenary’s arrival in David’s camp and his news of Saul’s death were not received with the joy and gratitude he had imagined.

David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day. – 2 Samuel 1:11-12 NLT

This was not what the young man had expected. Instead of David reacting with joy and offering the Amalekite a reward for his claim of having killed David’s archenemy, he went into mourning, weeping over the death of the Lord’s anointed. There was no celebration, no gloating, no dance of victory over Saul’s well-deserved death. And the idea that an Amalekite had been the one to take the king’s life was too much for David to handle. Based on the young man’s bold claim, David had him executed. Not exactly the reward he had been seeking.

What is interesting to note in this story is the sovereign hand of God at work. These two chapters provide a turning point in the story of David’s life. Between them, we see a transition of power taking place between Saul and David. It is fascinating to consider that this unsuspecting Amalekite was used by God to bring the very crown of Saul and hand it to the man whom God had appointed and anointed to be the next king of Israel. It was a tangible symbol of what was taking place within the story – all part of God’s strategic plan for David’s rise to the throne of Israel.

David’s path to the throne had been a long and arduous one. From the day he had been anointed by Samuel the prophet, until the moment Saul fell on his sword, taking his own life, David had experienced a lengthy, pain-filled journey filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and moments of doubt and despair. David’s faith had been tested. He had been oftentimes confused by the events surrounding his life. He didn’t always understand what was going on or enjoy the manner in which God had chosen to direct his life. But he kept trusting. He kept waiting. And while he had been given two different opportunities to take Saul’s life, he had refused. In both cases he had considered Saul the Lord’s anointed and was unwilling to raise his hand against him. Up until the very end, David had showed honor and respect for the Lord’s anointed, even mourning the death of the very man who had dedicated years of his life to the David’s destruction.

Saul was defeated by the Philistines. He took his own life. An Amalekite plundered the crown from his dead body and claimed responsibility for his death. He expected a reward from David. But David mourned and rewarded the Amalekite with death. Saul’s crown, the symbol of his power, had been handed over to David by an unlikely source and in an unexpected manner. Saul’s short-lived dynasty had come to an abrupt and ignominious end. And with his death, the transfer of power had begun. David was poised to become the next king of Israel. God’s hand-picked successor was about to ascend the throne of Israel and assume the responsibility of leading the people of Israel on behalf of God. The man who had repeatedly shown honor and respect for the Lord’s anointed was about to become the Lord’s anointed. And every single event and circumstance up until this point had all been part of God’s sovereign plan for David’s life. The timing was perfect. The plan was unfolding just as God had ordained it.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

An Epic Fail.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. – 1 Samuel 31:8-13 ESV

What Saul feared in life, actually took place in death. Right before he took his own life, he had begged his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me” (1 Samuel 31:4 ESV). He feared being mocked and ridiculed by the Philistines. The Hebrew word he used is `alal and it can mean “to act severely, deal with severely, make a fool of someone” (“H5953 – `alal – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 12 Feb, 2017). It carries the idea of mocking, as well as defilement. And that is exactly what happened. Saul’s death did not stop the inevitable. They stripped his body of its armor, then cut off his head; and the book of Chronicles says, “they put his armor in the temple of their gods and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon” (1 Chronicles 10:10 ESV). The book of Chronicles goes on to provide important insight into the cause behind Saul’s death:

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. – 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 ESV

This had not been the only time Saul had failed to keep faith with God. He had personally offered sacrifices to God in direct violation of the law of God (1 Samuel 13). He had also failed to wipe out the Amalekites and to destroy all the spoil from battle, disobeying a direct order from God (1 Samuel 15). And Saul had continually ignored God’s clear announcement that he was going to be replaced as king by a better man. In fact, he had actually tried to stop it from happening by seeking to take the life of the very man God had chosen as his replacement: David.

So there were many reasons for Saul’s abandonment by God. In many ways, he is the one who had left God. He had chosen to live his life and rule his kingdom according to his own standards and based on his own wisdom. He had been rash, impulsive, prone to placing blame and reticent to repent, even when proven guilty. He was prideful, arrogant, self-absorbed and unwilling to humble himself before God. His eventual humiliation at the hands of the Philistines was his own doing. He had brought this on himself. And as his world came to a crashing end on the field of battle, he found himself severely wounded, his sons dead, his army fleeing and the Philistine troops closing in for the kill.

Saul’s decapitated body was hung on the walls of the city of Beth-shan. His head was hung in the temple of Dagon. His armor was put in the temple of Ashtaroth. All as a public display of his defeat and in an effort to humiliate not only Saul, but the God of the people of Israel. It was all very similar to when the Philistines placed the captured Ark of the Covenant in the temple of Dagon (1 Samuel 5). The Ark, a representation of the God of the Israelites, was to the Philistines like an idol, so they placed it at the feet of their god in order to honor his superiority over Yahweh. So, in the same way, by placing Saul’s head in the temple of Dagon was a way to show that their god was greater than the God of Israel. In their minds, Dagon had prevailed over Yahweh. They had won. Saul and the Israelites had lost.

But the story doesn’t end there. When the residents of Jabesh-gilead heard what had been done to Saul and his sons, they had to do something about it. So, at great risk to their own lives, they planned a nighttime raid and took the bodies of Saul and his sons from the walls of Beth-shan and gave them a proper burial. We’re not given a reason for why their bodies were burned. Perhaps it was because they had been so mutilated by the Philistines that they were beyond recognition. Or it could have simply been an attempt to prevent the spread of disease. But whatever the case, their bones were buried and a fast was held for seven days. There would be no great monument erected to Saul. It is interesting to note the difference between the death of Saul and that of a king like Asa.

And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in the tomb that he had cut for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a bier that had been filled with various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art, and they made a very great fire in his honor. – 2 Chronicles 16:13-14 ESV

It would become customary for the deceased kings of Israel to have elaborate burials and expensive tombs built in their honor. Such was not the case for Saul. He and his sons were buried under a tree in a non-disclosed spot. No pomp. No elaborate ceremony. No monument to mark their memory. Just like that, Saul was gone, his memory wiped from the minds of his people, but his legacy of faithlessness and disobedience left behind in the captured cities of Israel, the lost lives of hundreds of soldiers, and the demoralized remnants of the Jews who no longer had a king. But God was not done. This was not an end, but a new beginning. While all looked lost and the future looked dim, God had things right where He wanted them. The Israelites would not be without a king for long, and this time, they would find themselves with a king who was a man after God’s own heart.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

An Ending Point.

Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. – 1 Samuel 31:1-7 ESV

While David and his men were pursuing and defeating the Amalikites, Saul and the Israelites were doing battle with the Philistines. David had sought the help of God and had found success. Saul had sought the help of a witch and would die in battle, along with his three sons. And David was busy distributing the spoil of his victory among his men and the elders of Judah, Saul’s defeat and death would result in the mass evacuation of the cities near the battle and the occupation of those cities by the Philistines. Two men. Two completely different outcomes. And both taking place simultaneously.

What is interesting to note when reading this passage is the easy-to-miss reference to King Saul’s armor bearer. Verse six reads: “Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together.” What makes this verse interesting is the fact that, at one time, David had been Saul’s armor bearer.

And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. – 1 Samuel 16:21 ESV

While just a passing reference in the text of 1 Samuel 31, it is significant to realize that David’s somewhat difficult-to-understand exile from the palace of Saul had been a literal godsend. God had ordained David’s disassociation from Saul in order to spare David the same fate as Saul. All those close to Saul, including his son, Jonathan, would die as a result of his stubborn rebellion against the will of God. Had God not removed His Spirit from Saul and allowed an evil spirit to torment him, David could have remained in his service. David could have been a part of that very same battle with the Philistines. But it had been God’s plan all along to separate David from Saul, so that he might be spared and prepared to be Saul’s eventual replacement.

This entire scenario had been the work of God. He had even warned Saul that it was going to happen. In fact, when Saul sought out the aid of the witch of Endor, and asked her to conjure up the departed spirit of Samuel, the prophet, God intervened. Much to her surprise and shock, she was actually able to call up Samuel and he gave Saul a chilling prediction:

“Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 28:18-19 ESV

The end to Saul’s reign was at hand. As part of His divine plan, God had determined that the time had come for Saul to step down and David to take over. And this time, when Saul faced the Philistines in battle, there would be no young shepherd boy to save him. There would be no defeat of the Philistine champion. Saul would be forced to go into battle, without the aid of the Lord, and witness the complete destruction of his army by the enemies of God. And it should not escape our attention that Saul, while wounded in battle, was not killed as part of the battle. He lived to see his sons die. He had to remain alive to the very last, watching as his kinsmen were slaughtered in front of him or as the deserted the battle field in fright. And when all was lost, Saul was not allowed the dignity of falling in battle at the hands of his enemies. He would be forced to end his own life by falling on his own sword. Saul’s nearly 40-year reign over Israel (1 Samuel 13:1) came to an abrupt and ignominious end. Even in the moments before his death, Saul feared man more than he feared God. He was more worried about being captured by the Philistines and facing mistreatment and death at their hands, than what was going to happen to him when he had to stand before God Almighty. Perhaps Saul had deluded himself into believing that he had been a faithful king and obedient servant of God. Maybe he had convinced himself of being a man of integrity. But whatever the case, Saul was facing a judgment far worse than anything the Philistines could do to him. It was Jesus who warned, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NLT).

Saul died. Just as the prophet had foretold. Israel was defeated. The Philistines were victorious. But God was still sovereign. He was not surprised at the outcome. He was not panicked by what had happened or suddenly forced to come up with a new plan to deal with this significant setback. It had all been part of His divine plan and sovereign will. God had given the people what they demanded: A king. But they didn’t want just any king, they wanted a king like all the nations. And that is exactly what God gave them, while clearly telling Samuel the prophet, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7 ESV). The peoples’ 40-year experience with the world’s brand of leadership was coming to an abrupt end. And God was preparing to replace their kind of king with His own. A man after his own heart. Not a perfect man. Not a sinless man. But a man whose heart had been trained to rely upon and rest in the will of God. A man who had learned the invaluable lessons of trusting God rather than relying upon self. A man who had experienced first-hand the futility of self-preservation and the more preferable choice to rely upon God’s salvation. 

Saul was done, but God was not. Israel was down, but not out. Their best days lie ahead of them. The king they wanted was dead. But the king they needed was alive and well closer than they could have ever imagined. And it was all part of God’s perfect plan.

 

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson