The Bible tells us the story about a man who was humble, compassionate, and pursued the will of God with fervor. There are times when this man would fear making a decision without first waiting to hear from God, be it through the divine counsel of a prophet, a dream or vision, or even by first sacrificing to God before moving forward with any plan.
So humble was he that when he was to be crowned king, he went into hiding. Through a process of casing lots, and by God’s direct interaction with a prophet, he had be selected as king. But instead of sitting at the place of honor, he was found hiding out in storage.
Even when some despised him and felt that he couldn’t possibly be their king, he did nothing to them. After a battle, he was advised to have these rebels killed, but he rejected their counsel because, despite their rejection of him as king, God had delivered Israel. He would not soil the day of God’s deliverance by killing those who had rejected him.
Before battles, he would almost always seek God’s will first. Sometimes the Spirit of God would come upon him and guide him. Other times he would wait for dream. Sometimes he would call for the prophet. Still other times he would cast lots, look to the Urim and the Thummim to guide him or make a sacrifice to God before implementing any strategy. He understood the importance of delighting in the law of the Lord, sitting in his counsel of the godly. He knew that without this, he would be like chaff that is scattered by the wind, his leaves would wither and he rule would end.
This sounds like the kind of king any group of people would want at the helm. Humble and kind, unlike any other person in all the people of Israel.
His name is Saul, first king of Israel, handpicked by God after the people cried out to have a king like all the other nations.
If you are thinking that the description I gave of Saul here doesn’t fit the image you have in your head, then you are like most people. We have almost been trained to only look at the “other side” of Saul, the side that is crazy, oppressed by an evil spirit, consumed with the desire to hold on to a kingdom that God had already removed from his possession.
We know him as the man who tries to kill the one selected to replace him. He is the one who killed the priests of the tabernacle after they had helped David escape his murderous plans.
But, how did a man like Saul, the young Saul, end up being such a force for evil, losing his position of power? This is a great question, but one that will need to wait for an answer.
For now, I just want us to meditate on the fact that for a great many of us, Saul was never the kind of guy I described above. And he wasn’t for one simple reason: we haven’t taken the time to read his story intently.
The story of a man who has it all and loses it.
The story of a man who once pursued God with all his heart.
The story of a man who at one time was in hiding when they wanted to make him king but would later be found setting up a monument to himself.
The story of a man who once loved God, but…
There is much we can learn from Saul, because we can, all of us, become Saul. We can leave our first love. We can become consumed with the passion of self promotion. We, too, can loose it all as he did.
So, just how did he loose it all?
This question is complicated and problematic. The answer(s) will be discussed in a future blog.
To read more about young, not crazed, Saul, read 1 Samuel 1-12.