Epic Fail

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013) April 13 

imagesA mentoring relationship would have done wonders for Saul as he began his leadership role as king over Israel. Samuel was accessible to Saul, but Saul decided to “wing it,” to his own detriment and the detriment of his people.

1 Samuel 15 details the foolish steps that led to Saul’s rejection by God.

Saul ignores Bible literacy.

Back in Deuteronomy 17, the LORD had warned Israel and her kings about the day that has now arrived. He finalized that list of requirements with a warning about Bible literacy, “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes” (Deut. 17:18-19). Saul’s rejection of God’s Word brought about his demise, “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:24).

Had Saul taken the time to read the Book of the Law, he would have read in Exodus 17:14 and Deut. 25:17-19 where God had promised to destroy the Amalekites because of their treatment of Israel when they left Egypt. When that time arrived, Saul could not comprehend the seriousness of the moment.

Saul uses his position to build a name for himself.

Samuel spends all night praying for Saul, burdened by God’s word to him that Saul has grieved the LORD by failing to obey Him fully. He rises early in the morning to go meet with Saul only to discover that Saul has built “a monument for himself” at Mount Carmel (15:12).

Saul maintains a veneer of spirituality.

When confronted by Samuel, Saul says, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD” (15:13). Further, he rationalizes his disobedience by spiritual posturing, “But the people took . . the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal” (15:21).

Saul blames others for his disobedience.

“I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (15:24).

Saul loves and lives for the applause of others. 

When Samuel refuses to stand with Saul before the people, Saul begs, “Honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel” (15:30).

Finally, Saul interjects himself into the position belonging only to God.

Saul wants what belongs to God—His people and their honor. He calls Israel “my” people (15:30), and seeks the place of honor before them instead of making God the center of their worship. Usurping God’s place is the tragic end of neglecting God’s Word.

Questions from today’s reading (1 Samuel 15:1-17:31):

  • What does the LORD reveal about disobedience in His response to Saul’s incomplete obedience regarding the Amalekites?
  • What does Samuel’s inspection of Jesse’s sons reveal about his faulty understanding about leaders and leadership?
  • What do Jesse’s instructions to David reveal about parental authority and providence?
  • How does Saul’s view of the Philistine army differ from that of David’s?