The fall of a king

"So Samuel said, 'When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel?  And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?  Now the Lord sent you on a mission......Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?......you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.'"
-1 Samuel 15:17-19a, 26b

God had warned the Israelites long before Israel's first king, Saul, reached this breaking point in 1 Sam. 15.  He had warned Israel that if they turned away from His leadership and sought out a human king 'like all the other nations,' it would end in disaster and heartache.  This, unfortunately, is exactly what happened.  Israel demanded a king, they hastily accepted any responsibility if it went wrong, and the Lord gave Samuel the prophet permission to put a king over them.

Saul was apparently a humble man at the start (1 Sam. 9:21).  He came from a wealthy family (1 Sam. 9:1), was considered the most handsome man in all of Israel (1 Sam. 9:2a), and was more physically imposing (1 Sam. 9:2b).  With such physical features, and Israel being so superficial in this area, Saul was a lock for Israel's first official king.  God made it official in telling Samuel that he would be the one (1 Sam. 9:17).

Samuel anointed Saul as the official king, the Lord "gave him a new heart" prepared to lead the people by the Spirit, and then he brought him to Mizpah to officially present him to the Israelites (1 Sam. 10).  After making a speech and performing the ritual of choosing from tribes by casting lots, Saul was chosen among the people, yet he could not be found.  As it turned out, he was cowering behind the military equipment overwhelmed by all the attention (1 Sam. 10:22).

King Saul reigned well early on, but over time he drifted from the Lord and His Word.  Saul would eventually grow prideful, reject God's Word altogether, and finally turn his back on God Himself.

The cycle of the downfall of King Saul is first recorded for us in 1 Sam. 13.  What happened?  Saul had been instructed by Samuel the prophet to wait 7 days for him to arrive at Gilgal.  Upon Samuel's arrival, Samuel would offer burnt sacrifices to God and then provide King Saul with further instructions pertaining to a battle with a garrison of Philistines (1 Sam 10:8).  Saul grew both impatient and self-reliant.  Saul then chose, out of a matter of self-preservation, to take matters into his own hands when Samuel was late in coming and with his army thinning due to anxiety.  Saul elected to perform the duties of the priest on his own.  This was his first recorded grave error.  After this blunder, Samuel arrived shortly after.  Saul's actions were condemned and the kingdom, as far as Saul was concerned, was essentially ended on the spot (1 Sam. 13).

As the story continues, it seems that Saul presses onward despite Samuel's proclamation that it was over for Saul.  A replacement king had not officially been chosen yet, although God already had David in mind, so Saul continued to assume the king's role.  Saul's remaining days as ruler over Israel would go down in flames.  The cycle of destruction would continue.  He would continue to exercise impulsive, hasty decision-making and oath taking (1 Sam. 14), prideful misuse of God and his authority (1 Sam. 14), building up his own name and sovereignty rather than God's (1 Sam. 14), directly disobeying battle instructions from God (1 Sam. 15), and finally an all out rejection of God (1 Sam. 15).  In his final days, Saul would become a mentally unstable, spiritually troubled, murderous, and hate-filled individual - a far cry from where he began.

Saul would eventually lose the throne to David and he would lose his life in battle after being struck by an arrow, becoming severely wounded, and ultimately committing suicide.  What a tragic end.

When we consider the fall of a king, Israel's first king, Saul the Benjaminite, what cycle of behavior did he follow that led him to such devastation?
It began with impatience for God.
This grew into self-reliance.
This blossomed into prideful self-preservation.
Pride was the key issue here.  And this is the usual cause of most downfalls.

Where did this cycle lead Saul?
Ultimately, it led Saul to hurt others, to hurt himself, and to reject God.
It was in those actions that Saul eventually lost everything.

Christian, do you get impatient with God?  Repent and turn away from that attitude before you reach the point of self-reliance.
Christian, are you already self-reliant?  Repent and turn away from that attitude before you reach the point of self-preservation.
Christian, are you most concerned with your own self-preservation?  Repent and turn away from that attitude before you reach full-blown pride.
Christian, are you filled with pride?  Repent and turn away from that attitude before you reach your own downfall.  The ultimate end of all who are pride-filled is destruction (Prov. 16:18).

Moral of the story: Run from pride.  Its the very bait of Satan, the same he employed in the Garden of Eden.  Look to God, obey His Word, trust in the Lord Jesus as Savior.


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