Summary: Saul began well and ended poorly. What happened to put Saul on the road to ruin?


1 Sam 9 – 31, 1 Chron 10

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In a few weeks we will begin a series of classes on Sunday mornings seeking lessons from the stories of Biblical characters who are either “bad to the bone,” or those who--if not “rotten to the core”--are shown in a partially negative light. Such a man was Saul, the first king of Israel. All indications are that at the start of his career as a Biblical character, he was a good and humble man.

But Saul took the road to ruin, and became deeply flawed.

The things that ruined Saul are exactly the same as those that threaten us with ruin.

The story of Saul’s life has many valuable lessons.

It begins with Samuel as the last of the judges of Israel (7:15)

I. Introduction – Saul became the king of Israel

Wanting to be like their neighbors, the people demanded a king (1 Sam 8).

God relents and chooses Saul, a very tall and good-looking farmer from Benjamin, the “least of the tribes of Israel” (9:21)

Searching for his father’s lost donkeys, he came upon Samuel’s town, and inquired of the Lord.

Samuel tells Saul the Lord has chosen him to be king, anoints him, and declares to the people at Mizpah that the Lord has chosen Saul as Israel’s king. (10:24)

When the time came to anoint Saul, he was found hiding among the baggage.

Saul was tall and good-looking and humble.

Saul went home to Gibeah and, although designated as king, resumed farming.

He served his entire time as king ruling at Gibeah. (10:26) (Jerusalem was in the hands of the Jebusites.)

II. Saul as King of Israel

Military Successes

• Defeats the Ammonites (ch 11),

• Then fights the Philistines (ch 13) - although the Philistines plagued him the rest of his life.

• *Saul’s first great failure came before a battle with the Philistines at Gilgal.

Rather than wait 7 days for Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice, Saul grew impatient and offered it himself (13:9, cf. 10:8), violating the Levitical role. Even a king did not have that privilege. Later, Uzziah paid dearly for the same sin by becoming a leper until he died (2 Chron 28:16,21).

Saul was king, but he was still subject to the commandments of God.

• *Rash vow – Saul foolishly vowed "Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies." 11:24

As a result, his men became hungry and weak, and his son Jonathan, not knowing about the vow, found and ate some honey and was strengthened.

Saul was ready to put his own son to death for innocently and unknowingly violating the silly vow, but the people interceded and practically told Saul they would not allow it.

• Then Saul was sent against the Amalekites. Read 15:1-3

*Saul’s third great failure and a major turning point for the worse

Rather than obey the Lord’s command to kill all the Amalekites, including families and animals, Saul spared King Agag and the best animals (15:3).

The report came to Samuel, and that Saul had gone to Carmel and set up a memorial for himself. (15:12)

Saul first claims to have performed the assignment, then blames “the people” for the failed mission. 1 Sam 15:15,21

• It is plain that Samuel, on the Lord’s behalf, was the ecclesiastical head of state in Israel, wielding authority over the king.

Saul was king, but he was still subject to the commandments of God.

• Saul was deposed as king by Samuel (15:28, 16:13 cf 13:14).

Saul continued to hold the reins of government, but without benefit of Samuel’s guidance or a blessing from the Lord (13:14, 15:26).

• Samuel named Saul’s sins: rebellion and presumption.

“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king." 15:23

David, the next king of Israel would later write:

Psa 19:13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

• Samuel anointed David, a rival king, in secret (16:13)

• The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (16:14-23).

• An “evil spirit” from the Lord tormented him (16:14).

It appears that the evil spirit produced fierce bouts of melancholy, possibly reaching to madness.

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