The Israelites were complaining that they wanted to be like other nations with fancy kings who sat on thrones and led them into battles. But by demanding a king, they were actually rejecting God, who was already their invisible king, more powerful than any human king could ever be.
God instructed the prophet and judge, Samuel, to explain to the people that this was not a wise decision, but they didn’t listen. Although God was unhappy with their request, He chose Saul to be the first king of Israel.
Saul started out “little in his own eyes,” (see 1 Sam 15:17) meaning, he had the proper humble spirit we should strive for. Unfortunately, his high position filled him with pride, and he willfully disobeyed God many times, doing things his own way.
Obedience is loyally following God’s wishes and instructions rather than our own.
(see 1 Sam 13:8,13) For example, Samuel was going to meet Saul and offer a sacrifice for Israel, to ensure God would be with them in battle. But when Samuel didn’t come at the agreed upon time, Saul offered the sacrifice himself. This was a serious act of disobedience – against God’s commandment – and through Samuel, God said Saul’s kingdom would not continue. (see 1 Sam 13:14)
Saul’s prideful feelings also caused him to make poor decisions and behave in shocking ways.
(see 1 Sam 14:24) For instance, after a fierce battle, Saul’s men were worn out because Saul had foolishly commanded that no one would be allowed to eat anything until they had completely defeated their enemies. But Saul’s son, Jonathan, not having heard his father’s command, tasted some honey in the forest. When Saul found out, he declared that his own son should die for what he did! Thankfully, the people saw Saul’s decree as ridiculous, so Jonathan was saved from death. (see 1 Sam 14:45)
Instead of admitting he was wrong, Saul at first stubbornly refused to back down, even if it meant killing his own son. It takes more courage to admit our mistakes, rather than clinging to statements that can hurt others.
James (4:6) says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (New Living Translation)
So, who was King Saul? Israel’s first king, who started out humble, then did things his way instead of God’s way. We can learn from Saul’s example by obeying God, not thinking too highly of ourselves, and admitting when we are wrong.
Learn more by watching “Who was King Saul? Part 2”!
This video is from Christian Questions Podcast. For more information please go to https://christianquestions.com