Summary: King Saul’s depression, caused by disobedience to God, was relieved as he came to terms with himself and asked David to play his harp - a parable of what Jesus can do for us.
A century ago when biographies of Christian men were written it was the accepted policy not to probe too deeply into their lives. It was felt that it wasn’t to the glory of God that a man whom God had used mightily in his service should have weaknesses or failings (except, of course, before conversion!). If they couldn’t be hid it was quite permissible to have them glossed over or gilded. Well-meaning biographers resorted to editing correspondence to hide mistakes and anything that would show their subject in an unfavourable light. That’s a pity because, in addition to it being dishonest, it prevents us from knowing the real man and appreciating that he too was "of like passions as we are" (James 5:17).
Over the years the attitude has changed and there’s now a refreshing frankness in Christian biography. When W E Sangster, the much-loved Methodist leader was told that his life story would undoubtedly be written he insisted that there should be a chapter included entitled "Warts and all". He didn’t wish the public to be given a false impression of his life. He knew that there was only One who was faultless and made no mistakes.
One thing which confirms the integrity of the Bible as the Word of God is the fact that, although it makes much of its heroes and great men of history, it also points out with utter frankness their failures and shortcomings. This is the case of the account of Saul, the first king of Israel. It’s heart-warming to read that God chose and called him to the pinnacle of fame and gave him the opportunity to serve the Almighty. God spoke to him through the prophet Samuel words which must have thrilled him: "The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power and you will prophesy … and you will be changed into a different person" (1 Samuel 10:6). The promise was entirely fulfilled as soon afterwards it’s stated: "God changed Saul’s heart" (9).
But there’s another side to Saul’s life. Just as faithfully as the Bible records his good beginnings and life of service, it also records that he didn’t continue in the way of righteousness in which he’d begun. Samuel had to speak sharply to Saul: "You acted foolishly … you have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you" (13:13). Saul had been told wait for Samuel to arrive at a certain place to offer a sacrifice to God but after 7 days the prophet hadn’t arrived and Saul grew impatient and offered the sacrifice himself. This was a prohibited action; the offering of sacrifice was reserved for priests only. We notice first Saul’s:
RELAPSE INTO SIN
One of the unchanging laws of life is that whatever we sow we shall reap. And so it was with Saul. We read the sad words: "The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul" (16:14). This paints a tragic picture, contrasting terribly with the bliss of the first day of his experience with God - but it had happened. We’ve seen the cause. In a word it was Saul’s disobedience to the express command of God. Instead of the joy and peace of the communion he once enjoyed, he now had an aching heart and an uneasy conscience. Instead of the bliss of fellowship with God as the Spirit came upon