Going Down for the Second Time
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’” (1 Samuel 16:1-2).
In looking at the life of King Saul, we’ve already noted that he got into serious trouble with the undertow of sin when he turned away from God. This is the point in history when David, the young shepherd from Bethlehem, bursts on the scene. In today’s passage, God sends Samuel to anoint David as king.
Saul was on the way down; David is on the way up. Saul goes from king to crazy, and David goes from shepherd to king. Saul reaps the results of a foolish heart, and David reaps the benefits of developing a heart of wisdom. Saul goes from prominence to pitiful, while David goes from poverty to the palace. It prompts this question: Are you a Saul, or a David? Let’s look at Saul today.
Now, if Saul had been wise, he would have accepted Samuel’s pronouncement: “Dude, you’re not gonna be the king anymore. That’s it. God’s not going to change His mind.” A repentant Saul could have said, “Hey, losing the throne is the consequence for the choices I made, but I can be forgiven by God. I can serve my family and country. I can let God change me. I may have lost my big opportunity, but I’ll use my smaller opportunities for God’s glory and see what God does.” Saul should have said, “I may have gone down for the first time, but I don’t have to drown.”
Tragically, that’s not what he said. Instead of moving toward God, Saul moved away from God and away from other people. In 1 Samuel 16-27 we watch a life self-destruct. Going down the second time, Saul cut himself off from others: Samuel, David, his son Jonathan, and everyone of positive influence in his life. His insecurities drove him to expect blind allegiance from others. You see, it wasn’t enough that Saul had a problem with David. Now Saul had a problem with everybody who didn’t have a problem with David! He was on the verge of “losing it” entirely.
Yet even at this point, Saul was given opportunities to repent. God help us, wherever we might be today, not to harden our hearts against God’s persistent efforts to get our attention. Ask God to maintain within you a tender and open heart to listen, even when what God must tell you is hard to hear. —James MacDonald
· What are the signs of a tender and open heart in my life?
· Review the events that occur in 1 Samuel 16-27. In what ways do I find myself identifying with Saul?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is easy for me to get caught up in the events of today and fail to acknowledge Your sovereignty over everything. Forgive me for times when I knew better but turned away from You and others because I was stubborn, prideful, or feeling sorry for myself. I would much rather turn toward Your mercy and truth in my life. Continue to remind me, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” (Psalm 139:17a). In Jesus’ name, Amen.