Authors of our own Misfortune?! (Part 1: Saul’s Disobedience)

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: Bible Study, Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , , , |

In one of my more recent bible studies God moved me to read the story of Saul and David.


While we are all likely familiar with God’s original anointment of Saul as the King of Israel, and his subsequent rejection by God in favor of David as a result of his repeated and persistent acts of disobedience (1 Samuel 10:8 and 13:8-13, 1 Samuel 15:1-3 and 15:8,9), something that stood out was Saul’s continuing willful conduct in terms of his relationship with David.  In particular, and in spite of the fact that David’s harp playing was the only remedy for the distressing spirit that came upon Saul when the Spirit of the Lord had departed him (1 Samuel 16:14-23 NKJV), was his desire to kill David!


This is a powerful observation in that is was further evidence of Saul’s state of mind as described in Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible (pg. 476) which signified “independent, rebellious actions,” that “were as much a denial of God’s authority as the recognition of Satan’s supernatural power through witchcraft.” 


What the Nelson’s authors were saying is that “Saul’s disobedience was essentially an act of idolatry because it elevated his will above God’s will.”


These are indeed strong words, but are an accurate reflection of God’s view regarding obedience or the lack thereof. 


And even though he recognized that the consequence of his prior actions ultimately resulted in the discontinuation of his kingdom, (although he retained the throne until his death, his generational dynasty would end with him), Saul’s ongoing quest to slay David was a further demonstration of his stubborn inclination to disobey God’s will (1 Samuel 18:6-11).


The question that comes to mind is quite simply, “how much of Saul’s attitudes reside in us and are therefore reflected in our own behavior and (dis)obedience?


After all Saul’s beginnings seemed rightly grounded, for when God first anointed him to be Israel’s king his response was one of humility, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?  Why then do you speak like this to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21).  (Note: It is always amazing how God uses the least among us such as David or Gideon, to confound the most powerful.)


Furthermore, and according to scripture, God gave Saul another heart (1 Samuel 10:6-9).  According to Nelson’s (pg. 467), the expression in Hebrew “is literal” in that it reads “God changed him for another heart.”


This being the case, the authors’ suggestion that “Saul’s subsequent attitudes and behaviors do not reflect a genuine spiritual life,” but instead a life in which there is a “struggle with sin” and the “desire to worship God,” should give us pause for thought and reflect on our own conduct to determine if disobedience is at the root of present tribulations.  Specifically, am I as Dr. Charles Stanley emphatically states, truly “obeying God, and leaving the consequences to Him?”  Or as was the case with Saul, are we too living in a state of deniable disobedience?


If we are, there are certainly no excuses that can be given to justify our conduct.  Saul’s four reasons for not waiting the seven days for Samuel to arrive to preside over the offering but instead assume the priestly duties himself (1 Samuel 13:10-12), may very well have appeared to be reasonable on the surface.  In reality however, he disobeyed God’s command.  A pattern of behavior that eventually caused God to withdraw His Spirit from Saul, and thereby remove His shield of protection.


This may to some seem harsh, but God is a God of truth and justice, as well as love.  He can no more go against the laws He has spoken into existence than you and I otherwise He would not be God.  Or as one gifted teacher so eloquently put it, God has made Himself subject to the laws He has created.  And it is for this very reason that Jesus suffered and died on the cross.


Given that God deemed the necessity for so great a sacrifice as the only means of bridging the chasm of our disobedience between He and man, His expectation of total obedience is both reasonable and just.  And unless we obey, how can we then turn to God and demand answers to our trials?  How can we expect an outcome any different from the one experienced by Saul?


Please do not misunderstand me I am not suggesting that all trials are the result of disobedience or sin.  What I am saying is that it behooves each and every one of us to follow the Psalmist’s plea that calls out to God in the heartfelt words, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: And see if (there be any) wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24 KJV).


If we sincerely subject ourselves to the light of the Lord’s divine scrutiny, we may discover that like Saul seeking to destroy David despite the peace that David’s harp brought to Saul’s spirit, we too are the authors of our continuing state of upheaval and tribulation.


(Next Post: Part 2 – Jonathan’s Acceptance of Divine Direction)


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