Saul, the king who never took action

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Last week, I shared with you a post about Saul—and how, on the day of his coronation, he hid in a big ol’ pile of baggage.

But that was just the start of it. Saul’s life was one characterized by profound fear, insecurity, and inaction. And though it’s easy to sit on a couch with a cup of coffee and shake my head at Saul—tsk, tsk, tsk— it makes me wonder. 

As a child, I always thought that we were to look to David as an example for how to live and how to have a heart that yearns for God. But now, as an adult, I’m wondering if we should look to Saul. Not for direction, but for an example of how my life might look if I succumb to all those same demons.

And the most beautiful point of all is that if I look at David not as an example for me but as a foreshadowing of Christ—we see something even more beautiful. Even through all of Saul’s inaction, carelessness, fear, and jealousy, he is continually and unconditionally loved by David. Saved by David. Honored by David. But that comes later.

Here’s what I’ve seen so far:

1) Saul’s son takes action because Saul is passive. In 1 Samuel 14:1-14, Saul’s son Jonathan goes out on his own to attack the Philistines who were occupying Israel. But when he went, he didn’t tell his dad. Why not? Because Saul was afraid, and Jonathan knew it. But as soon as Jonathan and his right-hand-man began killing and overtaking the camp, Saul rallied his troops and joined them.

2) Saul stubbornly keeps his own word—while disobeying God’s word. In 1 Samuel  14:24-44, Saul makes up some crazy rule for his soldiers: “Cursed be any man who east food before I have avenged my enemies!” The ultimate battle cry for an infamously cowardly man. When his son eats (the one who just defeated the Philistines)—Saul nearly kills him so that he doesn’t look weak in front of his men—so he can keep his word. Saul’s soldiers, seeing how ridiculous, stubborn, and prideful Saul is being, stop him from killing his own son.

3)Saul follows the Lord… but only halfway. Then makes half-assed excuses.  When Saul is told to overtake the Amalekites, and to destroy them completely (and not to take any plunder or riches from them)—he almost follows instructions. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul overtakes the Amalekites, but brings home sheep, cattle, lambs, and even their king—alive! When he’s confronted about his greed in taking all the plunder, rather than destroying it as instructed Saul defiantly says, “But I did obey the Lord, I went on the mission that the Lord assigned me. The soldiers took plunder, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God.” Do you see what he did there? He threw his soldiers under the bus and said they were responsible for taking the plunder. Then, he tried to justify it, by saying they would make it all a sacrifice. What bologna!

4) Saul finally admits his fault. By the end of 1 Samuel 15, Saul is so beat down and called out on all his conniving ways that he finally admits it. “I have sinned. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.” 

All of this in a matter of a few chapters. And more and more I’m realizing that there’s so much of me  in Saul—or so much of Saul in me. And I think, more than anything… I follow after Saul’s passivity. I don’t want to rock the boat. I only want to move forward if I’m absolutely certain that I’ll be successful.

After all this time, I’m realizing that perhaps God isn’t calling me to be David. Maybe God is trying to show me where I’m Saul.

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