Day 108: Saul's Vanity

1 Samuel 13:1-23 Saul prepared to wage battle against the Philistines and made an animal sacrifice to secure God’s blessing. Saul ostensibly honored God but not in a spirit of obedience to God’s will. Therefore, Samuel upbraided Saul and told him that his sin would mean the end of his monarchy. Fidelity to God primarily consists in doing his will. (CCC 1787, 1850, 2135)

Ch 14:1-52 Through a clever ruse, Jonathan and his armor-bearer helped secure victory for Israel in a battle against the Philistines. Later, however, Jonathan, son of Saul, was nearly put to death by Saul because he unknowingly broke an oath that the king had made. Saul was victorious but once again did not rely upon the guidance of God. (CCC 2151-2152)

Psalm 58 This psalm consists in a plea to God, who enjoys the fullness of justice to strike down the unjust judges of the day.

You gods: this is an ironic or sarcastic reference to those in authority who are corrupt and abuse their authority. Verses 2-5 seem to indicate that the leaders in question were completely evil in both their intentions and actions.

The righteous will rejoice: Their joy was not only at the destruction of the evil judges so much as the colorful imagery might indicate but rather was on account of the final victory of justice and their liberation from oppressive tyranny.

Surely there is...on earth: As the Church teaches and we pray in the Creed, Christ will come again on the Last Day to judge both the living and the dead, with the just receiving their reward and the evil their punishment. (CCC 648)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Saul’s Reign

  • 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!

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • 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

  • WHY?

  • Saul waits for Samuel and there is a MASSIVE PHILISTINE ARMY nearby

  • 30.000 Chariots

  • 6.000 Horsemen

  • 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

  • BUT

  • 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


  • Remember Saul hid amongst the luggage

  • Saul didn’t necessarily WANT to be KING


  • 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.


  • 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!!



Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, you are good and you are just. You are a good and just judge. You are a good and just judge who knows the secrets of our hearts. You know the decisions of our wills. You know our actions that we make. And you know the secrets in our minds and in our hearts. You know what’s hidden from everyone else, even from ourselves, Lord. You know us, through and through. And we ask you to be a good and just judge. We also ask you to be a merciful judge. We know our own brokenness and there is so much for our own selves, we don’t even know. But you do, God. Nothing that we are, nothing that we do escapes you. And you still continue to choose us. You still continue to guide and guard us. And so, this day Lord God, please guide. And this day, Lord God, please guard. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”