Bible Insights

The Final Failing of King Saul

The King Claimed to Be Afraid of His Men, When He Should Have Been Afraid of God

From a human standpoint, Saul appeared he had what it would take to be king. Yet from God’s perspective, his first king fell short. Saul had many character flaws, which ultimately caused God to reject him as king.

God picked David to replace Saul. Though David had his own share of missteps, God affirmed him as a man after his own heart (Acts 13:22).

But the book of 1 Samuel isn’t about King David. It’s about king Saul. It starts with Samuel anointing him as king (1 Samuel 9) and ends with Saul taking his own life 23 chapters later (1 Samuel 31).

Between his promising beginning and his shameful end, we read a series of King Saul’s failings. Perhaps the most fateful one occurs in 1 Samuel 15. Here’s what happens:

Samuel comes to the king with a message from God. He tells King Saul to go and completely destroy the Amalekites because of how they had earlier treated his people.

The instructions are clear. Do not spare anyone or anything. This includes both people and animals.

Saul raises an army and attacks the Amalekites, but he doesn’t completely destroy them. Instead, he lets the king live and spares all the choice animals. This is in direct opposition to what God told him to do.

Yet when Samuel confronts Saul for his failure to obey God’s instructions, the king insists he did exactly as commanded. Yet when Samuel presses him, Saul gives a different explanation.

He says he saved the animals because he was afraid of his men.

At this point, he admits he sinned. But it’s too late. God will not give King Saul any more chances. As punishment, God pledges to remove the kingdom from Saul and give it to another.

Saul claimed he was afraid of what his men would do, but he should have been more afraid of what God would do.

We should always fear God more than people.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 14-16 and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 15:24.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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