The account of Saul’s reign is comparatively brief, but tragic.
Just as Saul’s election was confirmed by three signs (1 Sam 10:1-8), so his failure is demonstrated in three iconic episodes.
First, to counter the Philistines, Saul musters troops at Gilgal (1 Sam 13:4-5), where Samuel had instructed Saul to wait seven days until Samuel could arrive and deliver a prophetic word from the Lord (1 Sam 10:8).
When Samuel fails to arrive on the seventh day, Saul, pressured by the growing dispersion of his troops, takes matters into his own hands and offers the requisite sacrifices without Samuel so that the battle might proceed.
When Samuel finally arrives in Gilgal, he rebukes the king for violating God’s command and announces that Saul’s own heir will not succeed him.
Instead, the royal office will be given to “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam 13:14).
This chastisement reflects the crucial point that the king, more than anyone, must live as a subject of the Torah and at the service of the King of kings.
Saul’s failure to realize this marks the unraveling of his leadership.
Saul’s fear and insecurity are next highlighted when the narrative reports the brave exploits of Saul’s son Jonathan, who, unbeknownst to his father, sets out on a campaign against the Philistine garrison.
Only after Saul realizes that Jonathan has attacked the enemy does Saul lead Israel out to do the same.
While they both possess weapons (1 Sam 13:19-22), it is Jonathan, not Saul, who takes the initiative against the Philistines.
Saul imposes a severe and rash oath on Israel in an attempt to prevent them from backing down: “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies” (1 Sam 14:24).
The oath takes its toll on the men, and the campaign, though successful, is hampered by the foolish vow.
Famished, some of the men slay the livestock and eat the flesh raw, transgressing the Torah’s prohibition against eating flesh with blood in it.
When Saul is notified of this, he lifts the oath.
But when he discovers that Jonathan had eaten some honey in ignorance of the vow, he stubbornly insists on the death of his own son!
Only popular outrage saves Jonathan.
Saul’s fear and insecurity direct his actions, from his rash oath to his lack of remorse about nearly putting his son to death.
Rather than admit he was wrong, Saul would sooner save face (and perhaps throne?) and sacrifice his son!
So a lot of stuff happened eh?
1 Samuel 13: the reason why Saul’s Kingdom comes to an end and he is left with no dynasty, no legacy
Jonathan does NOT become the king after him
Saul waits for Samuel and there is a MASSIVE PHILISTINE ARMY nearby
Troops like the sand on the seashore
Israel does not have a lot of people or warriors
They are lacking in military might
Samuel tells Saul to wait 7 days for him to show up
In the meantime, all the people are scattering
Remember Saul’s weakness?
He is overly preoccupied with what other people think
So Saul got tired of waiting for Saul and decides to take matters into his own hands and OFFER THE SACRIFICE
Samuel told Saul TO WAIT FOR HIM
But Saul does not wait and begins
As soon as Saul starts the sacrifice, Samuel shows up and of course prophesies
Because Saul did not wait for Samuel and disobeyed the Lord’s command, Saul’s kingship ENDS WITH HIM
Someone else will be raised up to be the NEXT KING and he will NOT be one of Saul’s bloodline
Because of Saul’s VANITY, it leads to him losing his kingdom
This does not mean SAUL IS A FULLY BROKEN PERSON
IN ALL OF US there is DARK
IN ALL OF US there is LIGHT
IN ALL OF US there are WOUNDS
IN ALL OF US there are STRENGTHS
One of the strengths of Saul was that he DIDN’T GIVE UP HE DIDN’T QUIT when the Philistine Army showed up
Saul COULD HAVE QUIT
Remember Saul hid amongst the luggage
Saul didn’t necessarily WANT to be KING
BUT HE STILL DOES HIS DUTY
It’s worth it to honor the fact that Saul doesn’t just abandon the Lord and the people EVEN THOUGH he is given the message that his kingship ends with him
The kind of person Samuel describes as the king to take Saul’s place, “HE WILL BE A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART.”
1 Samuel 14: At the end of Chapter 13, we learn there are no swords or weapons, so they are fighting with farming tools
There are two swords at the ready, one used by Saul and one used by his son, Jonathan
The people fight with shovels and pitchforks
God places the sword in Jonathan’s hand due to him being in a privileged state as SON OF THE KING
When we see young David fight Goliath, we will see a man who is willing to FIGHT A BATTLE no one else is willing to fight
We see the SAME HEART in Jonathan
Jonathan is also willing to go up to where no one else is willing to go up
There will be a friendship between Jonathan and David and it MAKES SO MUCH SENSE
David and Jonathan had the same heart while the people around them were willing to cower, hiding in holes
Jonathan and his armor bearer feel encouraged to fight the enemies of the People of God
But Saul’s story ends in tragedy and he makes another RASH OATH
A pretty stupid oath really
“Any man who eats or drinks from this day until evening you will be cursed and killed.” or something to that effect
Jonathan didn’t get the memo….or passenger pigeon? 🤔
Jonathan ends up eating accidentally and gets sold out
So Saul decides, yup Jonathan has to die now
Do you remember the last RASH VOW we dealt with in an earlier book? (POP QUIZ!! This man made a rash vow and something happened. What? Answer in the Comment Section of the Facebook Post 😁)
The people of Israel STAND UP for Jonathan and defend him from Saul
Without Jonathan, Israel would not have had victory
So Saul relented
The People RANSOMED Jonathan from Saul
So in the end, Jonathan DID NOT DIE
Saul continued to fight and it says that whenever Saul saw any strong or valiant man, he attached the man to himself to recruit good fighters
Saul is waging a defensive war against Philistines, Malekites, etc.
Is Saul just COLLECTING PEOPLE AROUND HIM?
Remember Saul’s VANITY
There is a practical sense to get mighty warriors around you
There is also a sense of a hidden motivation when it comes to Saul’s plans?
Saul is a COMPLEX character
As we continue to journey with SAUL, we continue to SEE OURSELVES IN SAUL
Hopefully, we can see ourselves in JONATHAN, who was willing to fight even when others were not
Hopefully we can learn from Saul, Jonathan, Samuel, JESUS!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER ON THIS CHALLENGING JOURNEY
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE