Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Humiliation of King Saul

Almost everyone we know will agree that King Saul was not entirely bad. He started out good, an obedient yet timid young man chosen by God to lead His people. He was blessed with the Spirit of God in such a way that he was immersed in power to be a victorious king. It was then a phenomenon strikingly similar to today’s baptism of the Holy Spirit. Saul accomplished for God victories that delivered the Israelites from those who plundered them and violated their borders in the past (1 Samuel 14:47 to 48). He became the people’s champion they dreamt of. His “impressive" look (1 Samuel 9:2) made him look the part that inspired hope in his people some time before he began to actually play the part. But the moment he disobeyed, the entire part of hero and king was taken away from him.

"He who is the glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).
Roberto Herrett/LOOP IMAGES/Loop Images/Corbi

One important detail that Saul might have forgotten was that the Lord would still maintain to call the Israelites His people. He had no plans abdicating His being Lord and leave His precious possession in the hands of flesh and blood, these hands of flesh and blood, as prophesied by the Prophet Samuel, would subdue His people instead of serve them (1 Samuel 8:11-18). Israel would still belong to God; He would still be the Lord whose approval would install the people’s king. The king would serve as the human political intermediary to consolidate all the tribes of Israel. Through Saul, this was accomplished in 1 Samuel 11:7 to 9 where “the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they turned out as one man” (verse 7), three hundred thousand men from Israel and thirty thousand from Judah (verse 8).

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Because of His love for the Israelites, God’s plan for them had been nothing less than a Theocracy. God allowed the Hebrews to roam the Near Eastern region in their early days, sharing the shelter of lands of people with whom they have formed alliances of mutual protection—until the last one, Egypt, threw its friendship out its royal window and entrenched the Hebrews into four hundred and thirty years of slavery—to show the Hebrews the want of the world, the desire and fear of the people that struggle to survive. Like them the Hebrews became survivors and learned about how they coped through the leadership of a being like them—of flesh and blood, the best species that their race had to offer, a hero who had carried their ideals through the most trying challenges of life and proved that the ideals were right—the king. The Hebrews came to understand the concept of the king, the best things about it and its shortcomings. At this ended the lesson of having a king who was not God, the Lord. Indeed, it had been a learning guided by God with a promise to give:

“The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

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And in that closing phrase God was, in effect, telling Abraham that his children will never need a king, for “I will be their God.” If a pagan nation had to rely on a king whose flesh and blood weakens, just like anybody else, without food, water, and rest, and expires at a time of life, Abraham’s descendants have a King far unlike any man, a Keeper who “will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4) to watch over each life precious in His sight:

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber, indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (verses 3-8).

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In the time of Moses, God offered the Israelites a unique proposal to be their King (Numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 33:5). He offered them the invincibility that the pagans could only dream of, with full demonstration. From the time of the plagues in Egypt, God saw to it that Goshen, the region where the Hebrews inhabited was safe (Exodus 8:22, Exodus 9:26). When the king of Egypt, with a temper as volatile as nitroglycerine, launched out full force against a defenseless throng of Israelites who just left his gates, “the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them…coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel” (Exodus 14:19 to 20). The monumental parting of the Red Sea alone was enough to drop every jaw of any man, far and wide, who hears of the miracle. The phenomenon spurred the psalmist out of his seat to celebrate:

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“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:16 to 19).

The promise and the constant reminder to fulfill bringing the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey, to make them great, had the absence of a catch. He took a people He called His, brought them “out into a spacious place” and rescued them simply—very simply—because He "delighted in [them]” (Psalm 18:19). All God wanted in return was that His people seek Him (Psalm 14:2; 53:2; 69:32). This is where the betrayal begins, for in the lavishness of God’s grace and the fulfillment of His end of the bargain, His people channeled the devotion that they pledged to offer Him and gave it to the “various gods of the peoples around them…and served Baal and the Ashtoreths” (Judges 2:12,13).

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Why does the word betrayal seem to bear more weight than unfaithfulness when in reality they are one and the same? With unfaithfulness we get the impression of a couple bound by a verbal promise to have and to hold, to love and cherish each other for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do they part; with betrayal, however, we dig up the likes of all-time uglies Judas Iscariot and King Saul. What about Adam, who was made by the hand of God then given authority to rule over all the earth but go on and disobey God (there’s another synonym: disobedience)? Shouldn’t he be in the list too? He is. God created Adam perfect; He breathed the Spirit into his nostrils to give life to a lifeless sculpted clay and immediately he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Because God saw His image in Adam, He delighted in this “living soul” and told him to take dominion over all of creation.

God created man in His own image, in His own likeness, by His Holy Spirit. Though it was through His Spirit that He accomplished all creation (Genesis 1:2), it was only into man whom He breathed in His Spirit (2:7). It was a creative process unique from the rest of creation, for which other than Adam did God form from the dust of the ground and breathe into its nostrils the breath of life? In the spiritual realm, such was the process used by God to transform Saul for the kingship:

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person” (1 Samuel 10:6).

The change in Saul was inconspicuous at first. His uncle noticed nothing special about him after the Spirit came upon him as foretold by the Prophet, though the relative would have strained to study some suspected change in Saul if the latter told him what the Prophet had said about the kingship (1 Samuel 10:16). In the twenty-seventh verse, there were those “troublemakers” who “despised” Saul and “gave him no gifts” while all Israel hailed him their new king. Nevertheless, the transformation of Saul began from the very time he “turned to leave Samuel” (verse 9), even before the Spirit of God descended upon him in power in the presence of the prophets (verses 5 and 10) to perfect the change.

But as we have seen further in the story of Saul, not even the Spirit of God could keep this many away from the will to regress into spiritual corruption. The erosion of Saul’s devotion to God instantaneously took his and his posterity’s anointing away as king.

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“’You acted foolishly,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command’” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).

Saul’s disobedience on Gilgal foreshadowed his greater backsliding years later when he would be sent to deal with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). Gilgal proved to be a costly forewarning that revealed to Saul a vulnerability of his spiritual life he was predisposed to succumbing to; and it was his responsibility to discipline himself in the obedience to the One who had anointed him into kingship. Just like Jesus who had to subdue the weakness of the human flesh, Saul had to deal with the fear that twisted his senses. And with the power of the Spirit of God who right after his baptism told him to do whatever his hand found to do, Saul was more than equipped to execute God’s righteousness on earth, and in his life, for God was with him (1 Samuel 10:7). Similarly, Matthew 4:1 says that Jesus plunged into the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit and in this power humiliated His humiliator.  

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The name Satan comes from the primary Hebrew root s√Ętan which means “to attack or accuse.” In Revelation 12:10, the Apostle John noted the voice coming out of heaven calling this spirit “the accuser of our brethren, who accuses them before our God day and night.” And the chief objective why an accusation is hurled is to humiliate. In the wilderness, however, Satan’s quest to humiliate the Faultless One backfired and got blown out of Jesus’ presence in a windstorm of His righteousness. 

But at the end of the challenge, Luke 4:13 explains that the devil left Jesus “until an opportune time.” Jesus’ righteousness may have blown Satan out of the water that time, but the humiliator had plans of returning. It was the same with Saul. It was not enough for the devil that Saul’s dynasty would begin and end in his reign. It was not enough for the devil to rob the posterity of Israel’s first king of the opportunity to be “established…over Israel for all time” (1 Samuel 13:13). If the future held the end for Israel’s first king, then the humiliator would make sure this mighty man of God would live out the rest of his days suffering the humiliating consequence of his disobedience.

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It is flatly a misnomer that this aged evil should be called the humiliator in that he himself had faced great frustration in his main objective to dishonor God. He failed in his goal to take over the throne of heaven with the Lake of Fire waiting for him in the end for him to spend the rest of his eternal judgment (Revelation 20:10).

But it was not enough for the humiliator to allow the fallen king to live out the rest of his days. In John 10:10 Jesus laid out the calling Satan took on to accomplish the humiliation of God and His believers: “steal, kill, and destroy.” Satan had robbed Saul of any chance for any of his descendants to assume power over the throne; he had stolen the right to be heard, answered, and be assisted by God (1 Samuel 28:6). He had succeeded in destroying Saul’s reputation as the firstborn of all the Israelite kings. In the midst of all the elders of Israel’s tribes, his right to be king was torn from him the very day he disobeyed God’s mandate (15:28). Satan destroyed Saul’s sanity and wiped out all logical, emotional, and moral sense to live a normal life, let alone perform his duties as king.

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The story in 1 Samuel 16:14 to 23 shows that the haunting crippled Saul mentally drawing the sympathy and unsolicited advice of his attendants which providentially opened the door for the future king David to behold the royalty he would later assume.

The fear he had succumbed to early in his career upon witnessing the great Philistine army at Micmash had never left him. When his men panicked at the sight of the Philistines in Micmash, so did he (13:11 to 12); when his men felt dismayed and terrified at Goliath’s constant taunting, so did Saul melt away in his tent for forty days (17:11,16). And when he caught the sight of the Philistine army gathered at Shunem, 28:5 says that “he was afraid; terror filled his heart.” Fear, however, was not the only devise the devil used to break Saul. In 1 Samuel 18:8, we find another controlling emotion that was born out of Saul’s greed, ambition, and paranoia: “Saul was very angry.”

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As the Israelite women celebrated Israelite victory in open singing, the refrain that went, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” galled Saul (verses 7 and 8), prompting him to keep “a jealous eye on David” (verse 9). He entertained the thought in his heart of “what more can [David] get but the kingdom” (verse 8). At this, the gate of his heart flung all the wider to welcome “an evil spirit... [that] came forcefully” upon him (verse 10), compelling him to take the spear in his hand and attempt twice to pin David to the wall (verses 10 to 11). It would not stop there. This blind rage would take him across the Israelite landscape and relentlessly chase a victim who refused to fight back and choose to seek refuge in the company of an archenemy than cast a malicious eye upon the “Lord’s anointed” (24:6,10; 26:9,11,16,23; 2 Samuel 1:14,16). It would almost get Saul killed twice on opportunities that first had been exposed by his own lapses in tactical security and later by Divine intervention, when the Lord put Saul’s entire camp into a deep sleep (1 Samuel 26:12). Through this blind rage, Saul would attempt to kill his son Jonathan in an expression of the revulsion he had for David (20:33). And through this unremitting hatred he would resort to the murder of an entire town of priests—an act that no normal, God-fearing Israelite would even think of doing (22:17) on suspicion that they had agreed to conspire against him and choose to side on David (22:13 and 17).

It was no doubt Satan had a sadistically swell time detonating Saul’s unstable mood swings between the heights of horror and fury. But nothing would give the devil his most crucial thrill than killing the Lord’s anointed. And in planning Saul’s death, he made sure the basic element of humiliation would be executed in the sight of all his subjects in methodical cruelty.

Pinned on the wall. What Saul tried to do to David and his very son Jonathan finally happened to him.

The death of Saul did not come by a simple shot of an arrow or gash of a sword or goring of a spear. It was not as how King Ahab and his son Joram had died by a single arrow cleanly fired between the sections of their armor (1 Kings 22:34, 35; 2 Kings 9:24). The thirty-first chapter of 1 Samuel recounts that he called for death by commanding his armor bearer to strike him down for fear of Philistines humiliation (verse 4). In horror the armor bearer refused and instead stood by and watched Saul take matters into his own hands by driving the sword into himself. For a while Saul lay on the ground as if dead, probably unconscious, which to the armor-bearer was suicide consummated, so he does the same (verse 5). But the armor-bearer assumed wrong. Something happened between the fifth and the sixth verse, which was told in 2 Samuel 1:6 to 10. An Amalekite young man, who happened to be on the site where Saul lay, reported that the king survived his miserable attempt to take his own life. 

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“’Then he said to me, ‘Stand over me and kill me! I am in the throes of death, but I’m still alive’’” (verse 9).

Death did not come easy for Saul and undoubtedly the devil delighted in the pain that baptized him. Then he leads an Amalekite into the king’s convenient service to finish where his attempt had failed. In the tenth verse, the Amalekite confessed:

“’So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive.’”

At a time when the feared Philistines were about to overrun the Israelite camp, the Amalekite had the luxury to be rational and take time to make a precise “objective” notes about the king’s mortal wounds: “…because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive.” Wow. Observe, on the other hand, how the armor-bearer reacted to the king’s charge: “…the armor-bearer was terrified” (verse 4). It was an aversion that more or less overtook Saul’s soldiers in I Samuel 22:17 when they were told to execute the priests of Nob. The Amalekite, however, held no fear or respect for anything Israelite in the same was as the Edomite Doeg would hold any reverence for the priests of Nob as he singlehandedly put the entire town to the sword (22:18 to 19). The very race God ordered Saul to obliterate had instead gained the upper hand to slay their slayer.

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Saul did not survive the hand of the Amalekite. With Amalekite hands, the royal Israelite crown and arm band were taken and carried to the next king staying in Ziklag (2 Samuel 1:1). It was a good thing, though, that this Amalekite had the sense to take these relics away than to be found and plundered by the Philistines who returned to the battlefield the next day (1 Samuel 31:8). As God had promised, the kingship through the symbol of the crown was safely and successfully handed over to David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Yet Satan was not done humiliating Saul. It probably mattered not for the Philistines that the crown was found, though that would have been such a great prize if ever the Amalekite had not taken it away from Saul’s corpse. What they did instead was desecrate the body of this archenemy, this Israelite king who surprisingly organized and solidified a first ever Israelite standing army that withstood foreign invasions on every side. For forty years, Saul was a bitter rival to the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:52) and brought frustration to the Philistine plans of completely dominating the Israelites. At the end of four decades, however, Saul and his three sons finally fell dead on Mount Gilboa; and in a mad frenzy, the Philistines “cut off his head and stripped off his armor” (1 Samuel 31:9). Through messengers they broadcasted the downfall of the Israelite king “throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people” (Ibid.). It was a triumph of their nation, culture, and aspirations. In the tenth verse, it says that the Philistines put Saul’s armor on display in the temple of the Ashtoreths and did the same to his body which they fastened to the wall of the city (Ibid.)—in the same way as Satan proclaimed the triumph of his power over the Son of Man by bleaching His body on public humiliation as He hung of the cross till He died. But there were those who genuinely loved Saul, who never forgot how God empowered him to deliver them from what could have been a massacre of Jabesh Gilead by the hand of Nahash the Ammonite (1 Samuel 11). In the final three verses of 1 Samuel, all the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead ventured through the night to Beth Shan, stole into the city to take down the dishonored body of Saul and his sons and gave them a fitting funeral (31:11-13).

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Despite the tragic disapproval of Saul as king, solid and secure unity came to the nation of Israel. Its neighboring invaders had to deal with this new nation of strong leadership that had the capability to repel their incursions. For two hundred years before Saul, the Israelite territory was the laughingstock of Near East when it came to national security. Then suddenly a valiant champion named Saul arose to fight against Israel’s enemies on every side and in his victories inflict punishment on them (1 Samuel 14:47 to 48).

Though in intermittent times the soldiers displayed defiance to his orders, the nation of Israel never rebelled against Saul, unlike what happened in the reign of Rehoboam when ten out of the twelve tribes of Israel seceded to form the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It seems that his relationship with God began as a personal matter that later manifested on how things went in the kingdom. 

But the people’s clamor for a king, the very matter that sparked the rise of Saul, was in itself a disobedience, and a major one at that since it was even foretold a few hundred years before they settled in the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 17:14 to 20 was a prophecy that carried the convention to be observed when the time Israel should ask for a king. The Prophet Samuel was stung when the people confronted him with this demand. In 1 Samuel 8:10 to 18, Samuel attempted to dissuade the people from asking for a king but God was there to put in His judgment on the matter:

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“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you that have rejected as their king, but me. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do” (8:7-9).

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And the people refused to listen to Samuel (verse 19). “’No,’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles’” (verses 19 to 20).

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Until Saul, Israel was under a unique form of government called a Theocracy with no one less than God as the Head of state. To us presently, it seems unthinkable that a people under the care of a King who would ensure “no misery [to be] seen” in the land (Numbers 23:21) would reject this King and opt strongly for one like them, understandably of flesh and blood who is subject under the same needs and wants as they. It was as if the people said, “No offense, God, but You’re God and we’re people; You’re up there and we’re down here, and we’ve got some things that you won’t understand.” If it was needs they were talking about, this King made sure that His subjects would not burn in the hostile wilderness environment by providing a pillar of cloud during the day, which by night, to keep them from freezing in the nocturnal temperature, turned into a warming pillar of fire. And if it was wants, this King rained down “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4), “angels’ food” as described in Psalm 78:25, at the grumbling of the Israelite community:

“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (verse 3).

Throughout the desert wandering of the Israelite nation, it was a daily routine for the people to gather this substance at a measure that would be enough for a day’s consumption (verse 4). The thirty-first verse described it as “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey,” appearing like “thin flakes of frost” (verse 14) introduced by a layer of dew on the ground. The people called it “manna,” which meant, “What is it?” If God were to answer that He could have said, “It’s my answer to all the ‘pots of meat and…all the food [you] wanted’ in Egypt!” For the “meat” part, He sent flocks and flocks of quail descending into the Israelite camp in the evening (verse 13). So: the people had bread for the entire day and quail for dinner.

And for national security, there was “the angel of God” (Exodus 14:19), the same One who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) believed to be the pre-incarnate Christ Jesus Himself, leading the way, “traveling in front of Israel’s army” (Ibid.), as God intended:

“My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run” (Exodus 23:23 and 27).

During the encounter at the Red Sea, however, this angel changed tactical position and went behind the people, followed by the pillar of cloud, “coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel” so that “the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side” throughout the night “so neither [army] went near the other all night long” (Exodus 14:20). This King fought for His people but yet His people chose against Him for one like them who will “lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20).

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Yet the idea for a king blared loudly in their consciousness as if hypnotically that it was by then all that they could hear or see. Despite having a Divine hand that lovingly led them, the best government above and beyond what the world of flesh and blood could ever offer, the carnal tendency to gravitate toward the seduction of immediate perception was overwhelming. Could this be what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50)? 

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From the time the Hebrews burst out of Egyptian slavery, God had by then established His kingdom. The unique and peculiar aliens held as slaves in the greatest empire in the world of that time were called more than the children of Abraham; very sparingly, in fact, did God refer to them as Hebrews. That was their Abrahamic name, their ancestral name, their nomadic name, their name while they dwelled in a land they were to inherit but not yet. Abraham came from Mesopotamia, a land east, across the Jordan and farther from the twin rivers of the Tigris and the Euphrates; by this he and his family came to be known. But when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, it was clear that matters had gotten much more personal with “my people” (Exodus 3:7).

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For those who have seen The Ten Commandments, the line, “Let my people go,” will never be forgotten. Bear in thine mind, however, that Moses never claimed initiative for the statement. Every time he stood before the Pharaoh, he preceded the demand with “Thus saith the Lord” (Exodus 5:1 King James Version).

And if there was someone who was excited about the set up, it was God; not the people. And as we read Genesis 17:8 where God for the first time proposed the set up to the Hebrew father Abraham, we discover the reason for the excitement—note the part I have emphasized:

“The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.

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And then in Exodus 29:45, God once again, under no provocation, expressed the anticipation: “Then I will dwell among the Israelites”—because what kind of leader lives not among his people?—“and be their God.” It was what God got out of the proverbial deal: to be their God. If the Bible began with the Book of Exodus, we would begin the story of a lonely God atop a lonely peak, unworshiped, unappreciated, unknown, longing to make it big in the lower world of man as a magnet of their love and affection. Yet when begin reading from Genesis, God has held this dream before Him like a luxury from the time before He created the universe, the driving force why He decided to compose a masterpiece out of His own image. The problem, however, started when His masterpiece decided to spill corruption over all what was perfectly created, including on himself. And it has been this corruption that has humiliated God in His desire to be with His people and be their God. For the reason of corruption, God’s Spirit will “not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3 King James Version) and thus cutting his days short upon the earth up to “an hundred and twenty years” (Ibid.). And because all had become corrupt, all touched by its curse dies, because it is a universal consequence that corruption will always churn out death. This is therefore why the ones God love rebelled as they were ruled by their soul corrupted by the fall of man:

“Those who live according to the sinful (corrupted, carnal) nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit (of God) desires. The mind of sinful man is death…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8).

When all Israel came up as one man to ask for its king, the Lord called it a rebellion, a rebellion though He was prepared to face. Israel’s refusal to be dissuaded by the Prophet Samuel was an unwitting attempt to humiliate the God who did everything to deliver, provide, protect, and call an over-sized herd of slaves His people, just for them to call Him their God. But God will not be humiliated.

To the nation who asked for a king, He gave them the king they desired: “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others” (1 Samuel 9:2), just the type all the other pagan nations around them would have their monarch. A fierce and ruthless champion who would “inflict punishment” (14:47), fight valiantly, defeat, and deliver the nation “from the hands of those who had plundered them” (verse 48)—again, the ideal champion the pagan world would uphold. His heart, however, was just as corrupt as those who hailed him king. No matter how vigorously God attempted to change his heart with His powerful Spirit (10:9), the hostility of his carnal nature would eventually seek to make war against the God who chose him. It was just a matter of time until the disobedience of Saul would surge to overcome his will. And when that day came, God, “before the elders of [His] people and before Israel” (15:30), rejected Saul as king:

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“As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the edge of his robe, and it tore. Saul replied, ‘I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God’” (verse 27 and 30).

Saul’s disobedience was a slap on the face of God. But God is the real King. As the Prophet Samuel testified, “He who is the Glory of Israel…is not a man” (verse 29). And He who is the Glory of Israel would not take it His face getting slapped by mere flesh and blood. Before the Israel that celebrated his ascent to the throne, God had these rebukes for the king:

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“Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?’” (15:17-19)

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voices of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king”
(verses 22-23).

“You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel”
(verse 26).

“The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind”
(verse 28-29).

Many of us know what it is like to get grilled in front of others; many of us know the experience of being drilled helpless in the sight of those who look up to us as their hero. Before all Israel, God presented them the king they wanted, the king who would make them “like all the other nations” (8:20), complete with the prescribed good looks and the power to survive the bloodbath of the battlefield. God showed Israel what it was like to trust in flesh and blood, in the carnal ideals held by the nations that worshiped lifeless gods of earth and wood, than a God who can split a sea into dry land, rain manna down from heaven in the morning and quail in the evening, and bring victory in a battle no matter how big the size of the enemy army. The humiliation that was meant to be God’s turned into the humiliation of Saul which also was meant to humiliate Israel’s rebellion. 

The humiliation of Saul did not stop there. He tenaciously held on to the throne and continued to command the honor of king when he should have returned the authority to Samuel who would have later passed it to David. Because of this, the outcome of his corruption unraveled before all Israel, the Philistine soldiers, and that Amalekite servant that hacked him to death in the battlefield.

God gave Israel a king (verse 22), a king who was as defiant as the people who demanded for him. As the people disobeyed, so did their king.

Ed Darack/Science Faction/Corbis
The very name of the land the Israelites inherited  from God meant "humiliation." The youngest son of Noah's youngest son, Ham, the curse of humiliation fell on Canaan to become "the lowest of slaves...to his brothers" (Genesis 9:25) when Ham one day jeered on his father's drunken nakedness instead of doing the appropriate custom of covering it. Noah, upon knowing later of what Ham did, slapped a curse on his rebellious son by cursing Canaan with humiliation.


  1. May G_d forgive and have mercy to all kings and heads of states. Most of them are simply Godless.Thanks for the fine article.

  2. But you know what the scariest thing is, Christianne? It's when the leaders God has set up to take care of His people begin turning "simply Godless" and do a King Saul. Thank God for a God whom we can run to when the days get bad. Enjoy the Presence of God, Christianne; do those daily devotions; and always, ALWAYS, remember: THE HOLY SPIRIT RUUUUUUUULLLESZ!