Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lesson from the Life of King Saul: Tracing His Early Life

Remember this 2001 movie with Brendan Frazer and Rachel Weisz? Yup, that's it: The Mummy Returns. The man standing beside them on the foreground is Israeli actor Oded Fehr. If any of us is wondering what King Saul may have looked like, Fehr may be a good replica for the King: a stand-up kind of guy, a head taller than any of his countrymen. The very thing that got him volunteered into the throne from the beginning.(Picture Credit: Copyright 2001 Universal Studios.)

I. Saul's Early Life:

Little can be gleaned of Saul in the records of his pre-king days and it can be safe to say that the dispositions of anger, fear, and envy may have had roots in his past. Nevertheless, general Biblical records show that Saul started out good.

In 1 Samuel 9–10, we can gather that he was considerate of his father, obedient to the charge of finding the lost donkeys, and wanting not to be a source of anxiety if he lingered too long without any word to his father about how he fared. In verse 2, he was noted to be “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.” This last statement was even re-echoed in 10:23. In this same verse, we find Saul hiding among the baggage which delayed his ordination as king. For us today, we find this impulse of timidity a little “cute.” It’s like, “Awww, isn’t that nice: just like Gideon hiding in his father’s threshing floor, or Moses trembling before the burning bush and volunteering his brother Aaron, instead of himself, to free the Israelites in Egypt.” And we can also recall how that suggestion by Moses infuriated God in Exodus 4:14.

Further into 1 Samuel 10:27 is a documentation of the presence of some “troublemakers” who “despised him” in the crowd that came to witness his appointment as king. No such mention of troublemakers was made during the anointing of David or, much less, Solomon. In relation to this is Saul’s mysterious silence. In the same way, the passage is silent as to why these troublemakers were ever mentioned at all. It can, however, give us a clue to a character of Saul as seen by those individuals that day: a character that brought him at odds with the Prophet Samuel and God.

II. Saul's Emotional Instability

Saul lived a life of emotional instability, in that he was not sensible enough to apply or remember the basic self-discipline expected of a respectable member of the Israelite society. Every Israelite raised in the Scriptures, which Moses had already furnished for the nation three hundred years further back, knew that the world’s first murder was committed by Cain due to his failure to “master” the sin that was crouching in his life (Genesis 4:7). Emotional self-control was nothing new to the people of Israel. The proverbs on the subject made by King Solomon simply reinforced what the Israelite society already practiced and upheld.

Throughout his tenure as king, Saul exhibited a variety of mood swings that panned between terror and wrath. He was a character of emotional instability. In spite of the transformation God performed on his character in 1 Samuel 10:9, it was this flaw that led to his downfall. It is what is known to us today as something that we need to specially focus on and give more effort and discipline in renewing even with prayer, fasting, and counseling. Saul, however, never bothered with this, probably because he was too proud, too busy, or too blind to the fact of it. Just like Cain in Genesis 4, Saul was too careless to master the sin crouching into his life.

If the story of King Saul, instead of David's, ever be made for the movies, I'd vote for this guy to play the King. (Picture Credit: Copyright 2001 Universal Studios.)

Saul was a man of anger. In many instances, Saul launched out almost unstoppable in the zeal of burning anger. For a while this worked. In 1 Samuel 11:6, he “burned with anger” when he learned about the dilemma of Jabesh Gilead. The Spirit of God used this anger to fuel his drive to inspire all of Israel to engage the besieging Ammonites into war. Soon, however, this fuel became so combustible that it led him into a murderous rampage to send David running, the slaughter of the priests and the inhabitants of Nob, and a breach of a vow made hundreds of years before involving the Gibeonites later bringing a three-year famine into Israel during the time of David. The passage in 2 Samuel 21:2 states that “Saul in his zeal…had tried to annihilate” the Gibeonites. The word “zeal” in this verse is the Hebrew qana, affirming a malicious zeal
borne out of jealousy or envy.

Even Saul’s tiniest tendency pointed toward a violent disposition. 1 Samuel 15:27 documents how Saul in desperation caught hold of the edge of Samuel’s robe and tore it when the Prophet turned his back to leave. Here, Saul had just willfully disobeyed a Divine mandate to completely annihilate the Amalekites and everything that belonged to them, when he caught sight of the best of the sheep and cattle.

Fear and timidity was no stranger in Saul’s life. In 1 Samuel 10:27 he was greatly intimidated by the derision of his detractors. In 1 Samuel 13:12, the sight of the great Philistine army in Micmash paralyzed him in seven days of fear, deciding to wait for the time of the Prophet Samuel’s arrival instead of launching out an offensive on the enemy. He “felt compelled” to offer the burnt offering Samuel was supposed to dedicate as he did in the end of the breaking of the siege of Jabesh Gilead. This infuriated the Prophet when he arrived at Saul’s camp at Gilgal to find the Israelite army caught up in an impasse caused by Saul’s tentativeness. In 1 Samuel 17:16, another stalemate maneuvered by the Philistines froze the Israelite king and his army into petrified indecision. A giant named Goliath walked out before the armies and issued a challenge “every morning and every evening” for “forty days.” The single good thing that came out of this deadlock was that it provided the avenue for David to rise and Goliath to fall.

(Next up: Saul's Legendary Disobedience.)

No comments:

Post a Comment