Why did God choose Saul as the first king of Israel?
Why did he also give Saul the Holy Spirit and gifts of prophecy, only to pull the rug out from under him and replace him with David? What was Saul’s problem–he starts out scared–he cannot find his father’s donkey’s for a while, then, when his big time is coming and he is ready to be announced before the people, Saul hides within the luggage. Once he is king he goes against the direction of Samuel, and God, and then he is cast away, and God recruits David. But rather than take his lesson and humbly repent, he refuses to give up his kingship. He hunts down God’s chosen man to kill him–for years–fifteen years. Saul was king for 25 years before being replaced. For 15 years Saul hunts David down to kill him.
The story of Saul for me is a cautionary tale of how even God’s chosen can fall from grace, by not listening to Him and relying on their judgment. It is the story of a man God selected from among the people–who symbolized the best of the Israelites–and he is even given the anointing by God, but instead of serving God he is fearful.. He seems to produce the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit: no love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control, he is filled with hate, misery, anxiety; a reactionary, filled with vindictiveness, and untrustworthy. Before he is even selected king he cannot even find his father’s donkeys–he gives up, blows it off. God/Samuel deliver the donkeys, but even when Saul is being chosen–he hides among the baggage!
1 Samuel 9 (Saul—Head and Shoulders Above the Crowd) 9 1-2 There was a man from the tribe of Benjamin named Kish. He was the son of Abiel, grandson of Zeror, great-grandson of Becorath, great-great-grandson of Aphiah—a Benjaminite of stalwart character. He had a son, Saul, a most handsome young man. There was none finer—he literally stood head and shoulders above the crowd! 3-4 Some of Kish’s donkeys got lost. Kish said to his son, “Saul, take one of the servants with you and go look for the donkeys.” Saul took one of the servants and went to find the donkeys. They went into the hill country of Ephraim around Shalisha, but didn’t find them. Then they went over to Shaalim—no luck. Then to Jabin, and still nothing. 5 When they got to Zuph, Saul said to the young man with him, “Enough of this. Let’s go back. Soon my father is going to forget about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”
8-9 The servant spoke up, “Look, I just happen to have this silver coin! I’ll give it to the holy man and he’ll tell us how to proceed!” (In former times in Israel, a person who wanted to seek God’s word on a matter would say, “Let’s visit the Seer,” because the one we now call “the Prophet” used to be called “the Seer.”) 10 “Good,” said Saul, “let’s go.” And they set off for the town where the holy man lived. ….. The very day before, God had confided in Samuel, “This time tomorrow, I’m sending a man from the land of Benjamin to meet you. You’re to anoint him as prince over my people Israel. He will free my people from Philistine oppression. Yes, I know all about their hard circumstances. I’ve heard their cries for help.”
17 The moment Samuel laid eyes on Saul, God said, “He’s the one, the man I told you about. This is the one who will keep my people in check.” 18 Saul came up to Samuel in the street and said, “Pardon me, but can you tell me where the Seer lives?” 19-20 “I’m the Seer,” said Samuel. “Accompany me to the shrine and eat with me. In the morning I’ll tell you all about what’s on your mind, and send you on your way. And by the way, your lost donkeys—the ones you’ve been hunting for the last three days—have been found, so don’t worry about them. At this moment, Israel’s future is in your hands.”
27 As they approached the outskirts of town, Samuel said to Saul, “ I have a word of God to give you.” “You’ll Be a New Person” 10 1-2 Then Samuel took a flask of oil, poured it on Saul’s head, and kissed him. He said, “Do you see what this means? God has anointed you prince over his people.
“This sign will confirm God’s anointing of you as prince over his inheritance: After you leave me today, as you get closer to your home country of Benjamin, you’ll meet two men near Rachel’s Tomb. They’ll say, ‘The donkeys you went to look for are found. Your father has forgotten about the donkeys and is worried about you, wringing his hands—quite beside himself!’ ….. 5-6 …. you’ll run into a bunch of prophets coming down from the shrine, playing harps and tambourines, flutes and drums. And they’ll be prophesying. Before you know it, the Spirit of God will come on you and you’ll be prophesying right along with them. And you’ll be transformed. You’ll be a new person!
7 “When these confirming signs are accomplished, you’ll know that you’re ready: Whatever job you’re given to do, do it. God is with you! 8 “Now, go down to Gilgal and I will follow. I’ll come down and join you in worship by sacrificing burnt offerings and peace offerings. Wait seven days. Then I’ll come and tell you what to do next.” 9 Saul turned and left Samuel. At that very moment God transformed him—made him a new person! And all the confirming signs took place the same day. When those who had previously known Saul saw him prophesying with the prophets, they were totally surprised. “What’s going on here? What’s come over the son of Kish? How on earth did Saul get to be a prophet?”
17-18 Samuel called the people to assemble before God at Mizpah. He addressed the children of Israel, “This is God’s personal message to you: 18-19 “I brought Israel up out of Egypt. I delivered you from Egyptian oppression—yes, from all the bullying governments that made your life miserable. And now you want nothing to do with your God, the very God who has a history of getting you out of troubles of all sorts. “And now you say, ‘No! We want a king; give us a king!’ “Well, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get! Present yourselves formally before God, ranked in tribes and families.” …. The family of Matri took its place in the lineup, and the name Saul, son of Kish, was picked. But when they went looking for him, he was nowhere to be found.
22 Samuel went back to God: “Is he anywhere around?” God said, “Yes, he’s right over there—hidden in that pile of baggage.” 23 They ran and got him. He took his place before everyone, standing tall—head and shoulders above them. 24 Samuel then addressed the people, “Take a good look at whom God has chosen: the best! No one like him in the whole country!” Then a great shout went up from the people: “Long live the king!” 26-27 Saul also went home to Gibeah, and with him some true and brave men whom God moved to join him. But the riffraff went off muttering, “Deliverer? Don’t make me laugh!” They held him in contempt and refused to congratulate him. But Saul paid them no mind.
1 Samuel 13 6-7 When the Israelites saw that they were way outnumbered and in deep trouble, they ran for cover, hiding in caves and pits, ravines and brambles and cisterns—wherever. They retreated across the Jordan River, refugees fleeing to the country of Gad and Gilead. But Saul held his ground in Gilgal, his soldiers still with him but scared to death.
8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel. Samuel failed to show up at Gilgal, and the soldiers were slipping away, right and left. 9-10 So Saul took charge: “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” He went ahead and sacrificed the burnt offering. No sooner had he done it than Samuel showed up! Saul greeted him.11-12 Samuel said, “What on earth are you doing?”
Saul answered, “When I saw I was losing my army from under me, and that you hadn’t come when you said you would, and that the Philistines were poised at Micmash, I said, ‘The Philistines are about to come down on me in Gilgal, and I haven’t yet come before God asking for his help.’ So I took things into my own hands, and sacrificed the burnt offering.”
13-14 “That was a fool thing to do,” Samuel said to Saul. “If you had kept the appointment that your God commanded, by now God would have set a firm and lasting foundation under your kingly rule over Israel. As it is, your kingly rule is already falling to pieces. God is out looking for your replacement right now. This time he’ll do the choosing. When he finds him, he’ll appoint him leader of his people. And all because you didn’t keep your appointment with God!”