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Those in Power Must Curb its Use or Risk Becoming Corrupted By It

When leaders have absolute power they can commit terrible atrocities

In the early days of the nation of Israel, a time under its first king, we witness a bad transition of leadership. King Saul abuses his power and shows his lack of trust in God.

David Anointed King

God wants him gone, replacing him with the shepherd David.

God directs Samuel to anoint David as king, but David doesn’t immediately assume the throne. He must wait.

Saul, acting in a manner we might describe as bipolar, alternates between loving David and hating him, between allowing David to live and hunting him down. Once when fleeing for his life, the priest Ahimelek, assuming David is on the King’s business, aids David.

David escapes. All is good—for a time.

King Saul Abuses His Power

Furious and paranoid, Saul accuses everyone of conspiracy. Doeg snitches on Ahimelek, and Saul orders the priest’s execution, along with his whole family. Doeg carries out the order, not only killing Ahimelek and his family, but also slaughtering all of the priests in the area, along with the entire town.

Saul abuses his power as king to order the unjust execution of one of God’s priests and family. Click To Tweet

Saul abuses his power as king to order the unjust execution of one of God’s priests and family. Doeg, acting under the king’s authority, abuses his power and annihilates an entire town. As king, Saul has supreme rule. He has absolute power and he misuses it absolutely.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 20-22, and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 22:13-19.]

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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Tell the Truth

Lying to Achieve a Better Outcome May Backfire

Mortally wounded in battle, King Saul commits suicide. A young man, an Amalekite, later happens upon the scene and concocts a plan that he’s sure will bring him a reward. His strategy, however, isn’t to tell the truth about what he saw.

Instead he fabricates a story that he thinks will benefit him. He tells a calculated lie.

A Fatal Lie

Coming to David, who later succeeds Saul as king, the young man says that King Saul called out to him during the battle, asking the Amalekite to kill him. This was because Saul was dying a painful death. And the young man claims to have done exactly that.

Knowing that Saul would not live, the Amalekite walked up to him and killed him. Then he shows David King Saul’s crown and armband to corroborate his story.

But instead of receiving David’s gratitude, earning a reward, or enjoying a celebration for bringing about the death of David’s enemy, David condemns the Amalekite for killing God’s anointed king.

David’s judgment is swift. He orders the young man executed for the actions he claims to have committed. David’s men strike down the Amalekite, and he dies.

David doesn’t bother to verify the young man’s story. And maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Even if he didn’t kill King Saul, he takes credit for the king’s death. That’s damning enough.

The young man told a lie because he felt it was expedient, and it cost him his life. Click To Tweet

The Amalekite’s testimony was all David needed to hear. The young man told a lie because he felt it was expedient, and it cost him his life. How much better for him to tell the truth.

Tell the Truth

One of the Ten Commandments tells us not to lie (Leviticus 19:11). Aside from obeying God because it’s the right thing to do, this story provides a life-and-death example of why we should always tell the truth.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 1-3, and today’s post is on 2 Samuel 1:6-15.]

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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There’s a Time to Wait and a Time to Act

Fear Causes Saul to Make a Bad Decision

Though God chose Saul to be the first king over Israel, Saul has some character flaws that lead to his undoing. One time the Philistines come up against Saul and his army. Overwhelmed by the force opposing them, Saul’s men cower in fear.

Impatience and Fear

Samuel had told Saul to wait seven days. Then Samuel would come, offer the sacrifice, and seek God’s favor. Then Saul and his army could go into battle with confidence that God was with them.

Saul waits seven days as instructed. Samuel does not show up. Saul’s men began to desert. With dwindling numbers, Saul panics. He offers the burnt offering and fellowship offerings himself instead of waiting for Samuel.

He hopes this will keep him from losing any more men and prepare them for battle with God on their side.

Right when he finishes, Samuel shows up and chastises Saul. “It’s a foolish thing you did,” Samuel says. “You failed to keep God’s command.” As a result, Samuel declares that Saul’s reign will not endure, that God will find someone else to take his place, a man after God’s own heart.

We later learned that David is that man.

Wait or Act?

When confronted with a dire situation, Saul had two choices. He could do as instructed and wait for Samuel, trusting God with the outcome. Or he could take control of the situation and act, doing something he wasn’t supposed to do but which seemed necessary if he had any chance of success.

The logical choice was to act; the illogical choice was to wait. But God’s perspective is different than ours. Waiting would have been the right choice, while acting was the wrong choice.

Saul made the wrong choice and acted when he should’ve waited. It cost him his kingdom, his legacy, and ultimately his life.

Are we willing to trust God and wait when it seems we should act? Click To Tweet

Are we willing to trust God and wait when it seems we should act?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 11-13, and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 13:7-15.]

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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Saul Squanders What God Gives Him

Even If God Sets Us Up for Success, We’ll Fail If We Don’t Obey Him

God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, ask for a king. This isn’t what God wants, but he gives them what they request. He gives them a king. At God’s direction, Samuel anoints Saul as king, appointing him ruler over God’s people and their nation.

To prove this is God’s doing, Samuel makes three prophetic promises to confirm that God’s hand is in this. They all happen.

The final one is that the Holy Spirit will empower Saul, and he will prophesy. Then God will change him into a different person, presumably a person ready to lead well and keep them focused on God.

Despite what God gave him, Saul squanders God’s favor and doesn’t finish well. Click To Tweet

The Holy Spirit does indeed come upon Saul, he prophesies, and his heart changes. Samuel presents Saul to the people with the confirmation that there is no one like him in the entire nation. This means Saul is unique and equipped to be king, Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1, 6, 9, 24).

God gives Saul a promising start. He’s poised to lead well. But despite God’s provision. Saul squanders what God gave him. Instead of trusting God and instead of doing what Samuel—Saul’s spiritual guide—tells him to do, he worries and grows impatient.

He ignores Samuel’s instructions, and even worse, he disobeys God’s law.

And it only takes a few chapters in 1 Samuel for this to occur. Saul repeatedly shows he’s not the man God wants as king. By the time we get to chapter 15, God has enough of the disobedient king. God tells Samuel, “I’m distressed I made Saul king.

He’s not following me anymore and doesn’t do what I say” (1 Samuel 15:10-11). Later Samuel confronts Saul and tells him that because he rejected God’s words, that God rejects him as king (1 Samuel 15:23).

Though Saul had a great start as king and was positioned to be a great one, his lack of trust in God and disobedience causes his downfall. Despite what God gave him, Saul squanders God’s favor and doesn’t finish well.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 8-10, and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 10:1, 6, 9, 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.