1 Samuel 13 - 15
After Saul is anointed king, there seemed to be a promising start to his authority as we read that “God gave him another heart” (9:9). But these chapters highlight Saul’s spiritual descent that made him unfit to be king over Israel. While the pretenses of his rise to power was so that Israel could be like “all the nations,” the LORD affirms that the leader of the covenant community must be held at a higher standard. Had the requirement to be Israel’s king solely rested on military prowess and success, there might not have been any problems with Saul on the throne. But there came a spiritual requisite of obeying God’s commands and not defiling His practices that Saul failed to comprehend. In Chapter 13, Saul took it upon himself to make sacrifices- a practice strictly reserved for priests- when Samuel did not arrive by the appointed time. In Chapter 15, Saul disregarded the entirety of God’s commands to wipe out the Amalekites (15:3), and instead reserved a portion of the spoils as a result of pressure from others (15:21,24). As a result of these two incidents, the Lord rejects Saul (15:26) and Saul no longer has God’s favor while on the throne.
Sandwiched between these two chapters is an episode of Jonathan’s unlikely victory against the Philistines. Jonathan’s trust in the Lord is the centerpiece of this narrative and starkly contrasts with yet another example of Saul’s overwhelming concerns about external circumstances. Not only does this narrative emphasize Saul’s disobedience in the preceding and following chapters, it foreshadows the need for a king that would be after God’s own heart.
Reflect & Connect
For all intents and purposes for Saul, he believed he acted with good and reasonable intention in both accounts that ultimately disbarred him from the throne. In fact, many of us may have acted in a similar fashion if put in the same situations. But what Saul failed to understand was that God’s favor is not merited by mere outward ritual practices. Saul didn’t disobey just some parts of God’s law and keep others. But by showing that he was more swayed by circumstances and others’ opinions, his distrust in God was the slippery slope towards his sin and rejection.
6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Rev. Nameun Cho
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.