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Lessons from Saul, king of Israel #1

He started Correctly!

LESSONS FROM SAUL
FIRST KING OF ANCIENT ISRAEL

The New Testament teaches us that one reason we have the Old
Testament is that the Eternal God wants us to be instructed,
edified, and taught the way of righteousness from its pages of
history and stories. We can learn many things from the life of
Israel's first king - Saul. In this article we shall study part
of Saul's life and glean from it truths for our salvation.

by
Keith Hunt


     Samuel governed Israel in righteousness, but his sons did
not follow his example. They were corrupt and perverted justice
(1 Sam.8:1-3). When Samuel was old the elders of Israel came to
him and asked that they be given a king as other nations. Samuel
went to talk to the Lord about the matter, and the reply to him
was that the people should have their desire and wish for a king,
but they should be WARNED what exactly it would mean to them, in
what literal ways of life it would effect them and the nation
(verses 4-9).
     Samuel reiterated and expounded to Israel the consequences
of wanting to be like other nations around them. Desiring to have
some of the world's ways, which may seem good and right in some
human respects, will in the long run, only prove to be certain
bondage, producing sorrow and pain (verses 10-18).
     This reminds us clearly of the truth of the Proverb that
states: "There is a way that SEEMS RIGHT unto men, but the end
thereof is the way of death" (Prov.14:12). Israel did not want to
continue to have an INVISIBLE God rule them DIRECTLY through His
ministers like Samuel, but they wanted to put their TRUST in a
man, someone they could see, someone they could idolize for his
physical size, good looks, eloquent voice, personal talents, or
whatever it may be that make people put a human person on a
PEDESTAL between themselves and the true God. Israel was here
putting to one side their personal national relationship with
God, they refused to listen to Samuel (verses 19-21).

     There is much to learn from this lesson of ancient Israel as
it led to the enthroning of Saul as their king.
     Over and over again the NT instructs us not to be ensnared
by the ways of the world that reject the Eternal God. Such ways
may even seem, on the surface, to be a better way that what the
Christian is situated in at some given point in time.

An example would be:

     A Christian lady has been raped and she finds herself
pregnant. The world's way(for the majority it would seem) is to
DEMAND or preach - ABORTION! The circumstances of the act of rape
was evil. The situation of Israel having two sons of Samuel as
perverted judges, ruling them, was also evil. But one evil act or
situation does not mean we ignore God and perform another act of
evil, or put ourselves into a different situation that rejects
God only to do what the unconverted world would do.
     I could write pages on the subject of what the NT teaches
about the fact that a Christian must come OUT OF THIS WORLD, with
its vanity, jealousy, lust, and greed. With its strife,
hostility, idolatry, hated, and bigotry.
     Jesus prayed to the Father that though His followers would
not be taken out of the world in a literal way, they would NOT BE
OF the world, in its unrighteous, and unconverted ways of THOUGHT
AND ACTIONS.
     We are not to reject God and His PERFECT WAY for the whims
and fancies (that may even seem to contain some honorability to
them, such as having a king of the world around us to reign over
us).
     Paul was inspired to tell Christians, "Let THIS MIND be IN
you which was in Christ Jesus" (Phil.2:5). The scriptures say we
are not to be unwise but to UNDERSTAND the will of God
(Eph.5:17). We are not to be CONFORMED to this world but
TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of our minds (Rom.12:1-2).

     Israel found themselves in an undesirable situation, but
instead of going to the Eternal to find His mind and way out of
the circumstance, they REJECTED God and looked to the way of the
world. They desired a king to follow and to lead them.
     This is another common weakness of the human heart -
following and making idols of humans above God, or coming
INBETWEEN our personal relationship with God. The Christians at
Corinth were led into this net of deceptive captivity, from which
Paul had to try and rescue them with correction (1 Cor.1:10-13).
Now there is nothing wrong with admitting that the Lord uses men
in different FUNCTIONS and for different PURPOSES in His
ministry. There is nothing evil or unrighteous about
acknowledging the fact that God gives different natural TALENTS
and Spiritual GIFTS to different men in His service as Elders of
the church. There is nothing improper about APPRECIATING these
differences among the male overseers of the churches of God. But
when all these good and healthy differences are taken by people
to lead them into PARTY spirit and CONTENTIONS of carnality with
each other, then it BECOMES SIN!
     From the context of Paul writing to the church at Corinth,
in his letter we call First Corinthians(which was not his first
letter to them as internal evidence shows), it is plain they were
sinning by their adulation of and following of, certain
ministers. They had put MEN or a MAN between themselves and God.
They had put aside their personal relationship with God, to
IDOLIZE and have a MAN lead them. They wanted a human king to
follow and trust in, just as ancient Israel did when God told
Samuel they had rejected, not really Samuel by wanting a king,
but Himself - the Eternal God.
     It is indeed true that the Eternal has in the past, and
still does, call men to instruct, guide, and oversee His people
in different sheep folds around the world, we call the churches
of God. I have written a full book on that subject called "A
STUDY IN NT CHURCH GOVERNMENT" (now on this Website plus more).
     This is good and as directed by the Lord. The problems arise
when we put our eyes and our faith in these men and off the true
Shepherd of the flock. When we start to give our mind over to a
human fallible man, when we think they are extra specially
inspired and INfallible, somehow guided to understand the will of
God in a way all others are not, able to interpret the WORD of
the Lord (the Bible) in such a way that it makes it unnecessary
for us to "prove all things" or to "search the scriptures daily,
whether these things are so" (Acts 17:11; 1 Thes.5:21). When we
allow men to come between our personal responsibility before God,
THEN we start on the slippery slope into false deception and mind
control. We are then headed towards becoming "dumb sheep" and
into the category of people that we often say are "brain washed."

     There have been a number of world famous examples of members
of religious SECTS in the last 30 years (1967-1997, the present
year of this writing) to illustrate my point. I will use the
example of DAVID KORISH and the members of the BRANCH DAVIDIAN in
Waco, Texas. This religious sect (an offshoot from the Seventh
Day Adventist Church) had TRUTHS that many of us in the Seventh
Day observing Churches of God, would agree with. They taught
observance of the 7th day. They taught we should recognize the
New Month days. They observed the Festivals of Leviticus 23. They
knew the truth about the state of the dead, and what the Bible
teaches about hell and the destruction of the wicked. They
observed the food laws of the Bible. There was MUCH TRUTH within
their theology. Then came the leader David Korish.
     He was no doubt very charismatic. He could speak for hours
and hold his audience entranced. I am told he had large parts of
the Bible memorized(maybe he had a photographic memory).
Certainly he knew the words contained in the books from Genesis
to Revelation. In the process of time Korish became the leader of
the Davidian sect. And through time and his charismatic
personality and preaching, more and more members of the sect
became convinced he was, quote, "special." A unique individual,
with a unique and special contact with God. Slowly but
progressively, the members in the sect's headquarters at Waco,
gave their minds over to his every whim, idea, and teaching. Most
of them (the adults) were in the end quite willing to die with
Korish in the now famous and infamous inferno that burned their
religious compound to the ground.
     Here is just one example of how people can leave the plain
teachings of the Bible, and especially the NT, to follow a king
type of leader, instead of remaining with God and His sure word
of truth.
     There were married couples within the Davidian sect at Waco.
They originally believed in what the NT clearly teaches - one man
and one woman in marriage. No wife swapping, no wife sharing with
another man, no adultery!
     Then David Korish began to teach he could have ANY of the
women of childbearing age, married or not! He then added to that
dogma that the married couples, or the men, the husbands, could
not have sexual union with their wives. Only he could now perform
this act and function with their wives. They in effect, all
became his wives only. He did produce many children from many
women.
     The brain washing had been so effective over a number of
years, that most went right along with his wishes, desires, and
teaching, believing he was "inspired" of God, even to the point
that his word was ABOVE the word of the Bible.
     It must have been that they had given their minds over to
Korish, so deeply, that they could no longer recognize WHEN he
was teaching out and out HERESY, which was the diametric opposite
to the truth, teaching, and commandments of the Eternal God.
They had REJECTED the true KING (the Lord Almighty) to follow
their human king leader. They were saying in effect: "Give us a
human king that will lead us, so we can be like the nations
around us. Give us a human king to reign over us."
They had committed IDOLATRY!

     Any form of idolatry is WRONG - it is SIN! It will only
eventually lead to mental DECEPTION, that in the context of
"idolatry with humans as king" will invariably and ultimately
result in PAIN, and SORROW during this physical life, in one way
or another.

     Coming back to the time of Samuel and Israel requesting a
physical king that they could follow, and put their trust in.
Yes, the people of Israel were in an unpleasant, even an evil
situation, with two perverse men as judges over the nation. But
what they thought was the answer to their problem, was really, no
answer. They were rejecting God and what answer He could have
given them to remedy the circumstances. Two wrongs just do not
make one right as the saying goes.
     Israel wanted to copy the nations around them. They wanted
to "do their own thing" - wanted to do it "my way," So God said,
"Okay Samuel, let them have their human king, but WARN them what
the consequences will be."
     The choice Israel made was not the correct one, but the
Eternal ALLOWED them to make it.
     This teaches us that God never FORCES us to obey Him. We are
ALWAYS free agents to serve and obey Him or not. It teaches us
that even the people of God may find themselves in life
situations that are unpleasant, even evil or perverse. We then
have the opportunity to seek God and ask for His way out of and
way through our troubles and pain, which may have come upon us
through no fault of our own (like Israel finding themselves with
two corrupt judges, or the Christian lady being raped and
becoming pregnant). God is there to help and guide us in times of
evil, IF we will seek Him and His answers.
     This example shows that we are always free agents. God's
people are never ROBOTS to Him against their own will and
desires. We always have free choice, and we are to exercise
CHOICE at all times, under all situations. We are back to those
very important verses found in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. God sets
before us LIFE on the one hand and DEATH on the other hand, but
we are to CHOOSE. Yet within all that framework God PLEADS with
us to choose LIFE!

STILL ONE MORE TEACHING FROM THE ABOVE ACCOUNT

     First Samuel chapter 8 gives us still one more very
important teaching. Even in our stupidity and wrong choices we
may make at times, God often (but not always) tells us in one way
or another, what the consequences will be for our wrong actions.
He is still being patient, kind, and gracious to us, even as we
are determined to go the wrong way. He often tries to rescue us
from our carnality and turn us to see the light of truth. So we
will walk in the more perfect way that is His mind, holiness, law
and commandments.
     I have even known cases where after someone had gone against
the divine will of the Lord in a certain matter, He will be so
merciful towards them that He will turn the situation around to
be a blessing for them. That does not mean His will and
commandments are nil and void, it only means He is wonderful in
mercy and kindness to whom He so desires to show compassion upon.
Truly God does work in mysterious ways at times, His wonders to
perform.

SAUL IS CHOSEN AS KING

     Within the historical time frame of Israel desiring a human
king to rule them, the man Saul comes on the scene. He was the
son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. In outward
appearance Saul was TALL and HANDSOME. So tall was he that no
other person in Israel came above his shoulders in height 
(1 Sam.9:1-2). He was probably a young John Wayne type of guy,
yet even taller. He was the envy of the fellows, and the heart
throb of the gals.
     At this point, we need to clear up a popular misconception
many have held, and that is the idea that it was the people of
Israel, who in some way, chose Saul to be their king. Far too
many have thought that the people of Israel either VOTED in some
fashion, cast lots, or had their elders of the tribes, decide WHO
would be their king. The Scriptures clearly record it was the
Eternal God Himself who chose Saul to be the human king over the
nation of Israel. Please note such verses as 1 Sam.9:15-17,27;
10:1,23-24, 15:1, 10, 17, 34-35.
     Yes, there seems to have been a public choosing of Saul
(chapters 10:17-21; 12:13), but the previous verses above teach
that Saul had ALREADY been chosen by God, already FORE-ORDAINED
by the Lord to be their king. It is clear that the Eternal took
full responsibility for Saul as Israel's human king.
     Notice chapter 15:10, 35. The Lord REGRETTED (NKJV) that He
had set up Saul as king.
     What! Didn't God KNOW what Saul wound turn out like? Was the
Eternal not able to PREVENT Saul from going astray? We shall see
later that Saul STARTED OUT with the right heart and mind, the
Lord even giving him much help to stay on the right track, but he
went astray, and now the Almighty was SORRY He had made Saul
king.


     There are some great truths hidden here for us.

     As God is ALL POWERFUL, as it is written, "there is nothing
impossible for God," we could argue that He could have prevented
Saul from going astray, but then Saul's ability to CHOOSE life or
death, his free agency, would have had to be taken away from him.
And as we have seen, God never forces anyone to do anything. He
always gives to us the freedom to JUSTIFY OURSELVES in our
wayward ways, or to be willing to be misled and deceived by
others, or by sin.
     That's why we have so many verses in the NT that admonish us
to be VIGILANT, WATCHFUL, AS WISE AS SERPENTS, in a spiritual
sense, for Satan is as a roaring lion, going around seeking whom
he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). We are told to GROW in grace and
knowledge so we will not FALL from our salvation and be led away
with the errors of the wicked (2 Peter 3:17,18). We are
instructed to put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God, so we can withstand
the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph.6:10-18).
     Over and over the NT, nay the entire Bible, teaches us that
God never makes us into little robots. The Lord will never FORCE
us to do His will, or to obey His commandments, just as He did
not with Saul.
     Then we may ask: Why was God "sorry" He had made Saul king?
As God is "all in all," as He is ALMIGHTY, as it is written He
knows everything, the end from the beginning, why does it seem
that the Lord is taken by surprise at the actions of Saul into
sin and rebellion, to the point He claims REGRET and SORROW for
choosing Saul as Israel's king?
     Didn't the Eternal ALREADY know in advance that Saul would
rebel and go away from the straight and narrow pathway of
righteousness and obedience?
     From these verses in chapter 15, it would seem to indicate
God does NOT know in advance, EVERYTHING an individual may do in
the course of their life, or if they will REMAIN faithful to Him
unto the end, once they start on the road of salvation.
     To many this is a SHOCK to contemplate, they may even think
it is heresy to entertain such a thought as God NOT KNOWING
everything in advance. After all they may say: Is it not written,
"nothing is impossible with God" and "is there anything too hard
for the Lord?" also, "all things are possible with God." Yes,
such words are written concerning the power of the Eternal. But
this is not so much a question of WHAT can God do, for He can do
anything He wishes or turns His mind to do. It is a question of
WHAT has God WILLED Himself to do and to KNOW, under the
situation He has chosen to work WITHIN, at any given time or
within any given events.

     The example found in Genesis 18 is missed by most readers of
the Bible. The Lord has come to earth with two angels. The three
of them meet and fellowship with Abraham, even enjoying a meal
with him (showing God is able to materialize Himself if He
chooses and partake of food - Jesus did this after His
resurrection among His disciples). God said He would NOT conceal
from Abraham the purpose as to WHY He was on a journey to visit
Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 16-19).
     Now notice verses 20,21. Read them carefully. Do you see
what is written there? Can you see a truth God wants us to
understand about His workings?
     The Lord had come to earth IN ORDER TO VERITY the truth of
the appalling report that had come to Him concerning the SIN of
the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Angels had brought the news of
gross sin to Him that was being practiced in those two cities. As
we would say (it was so horrific) "I cannot believe my ears" and
God did not WILL to bring up those two cities on some huge TV
screen in heaven to see their sins. Until the report reached Him,
He did not WILL Himself to even know this sin was as a full blown
CANCER in those cities.
     And further more, He had WILLED Himself to only be able to
SEE and KNOW the reality of this sin BY PERSONALLY(bodily) going
to those cities on planet earth, and seeing it for HIMSELF.
     God does WILL Himself to LIMIT Himself on certain things
pertaining to His working with mankind through His plan for them.
He has WILLED Himself NOT TO KNOW if a man or woman will REMAIN
faithful in love and obedience to Him, unto their dying day. That
is why Jesus said: "He that shall endure unto the end shall be
saved."

     God chose Saul to be king. He started out on the right
footing and with a converted attitude (as we shall presently
prove), But Saul did not remain faithful and true to God and His
way of righteousness. When he did not, it grieved the Lord (as it
did with Samuel), it regretted the Lord, it was a sorrow to Him
that He had made Saul king.
     Was it God's fault Saul did not remain faithful? Of course
not! God forbid, what a terrible thought! Saul was always a free
moral agent to do right or not to do right.
     It is always a regret, a sorrow, to God, when someone He has
called and chosen to be a future king and priest in His family,
FALLS AWAY!
     The sorrow and regret He exhibits shows to us the wonderful
greatness of His character. He is like us (do we not regret the
falling into sin of our children to their own hurt and that of
others?) and we like Him, for it is written God said: "Let us
make man in our IMAGE, after OUR LIKENESS."

SAUL - STARTED RIGHT - ENDED WRONG

     When Samuel told Saul that his father's household was
greatly favored in Israel, notice Saul's humble reply: "Am I not
a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my
family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?
Why then do you speak like this to me?" (1 Sam.9:21 NKJV).
     Certainly this attitude of Saul's shows the humility that
the Bible proclaims is the necessary attribute of mind to please
the Eternal God.
Later, Samuel tells Saul what would befall him after they parted
company.

                            ..................

To be continued


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