We’ve reached the end of this season’s Big Word Bible study! I am both delighted that we’ve completed what we started and saddened that it’s done … for a while. We will pick up the second half of the story by studying 2 Samuel this fall.
In our discussion this week we talked about a lot of details from the last few chapters of the book.
Why did David lie so much?
Did he truly align himself with the Philistines?
Was he really eager to fight against the Israelites, even after refusing to harm “God’s anointed” Saul?
Why did Saul wait until after Samuel’s death to finally cleanse the land?
What differences exist between confession, apology and repentance?
And how can we wisely discern them, both protecting ourselves and always hoping in love?
First Samuel provides a historical account of the end of Israel’s judges and the beginning of the monarchy. But at its essence, it is the story of Saul.
Saul … a man forced into a job he didn’t want, to lead a people he feared and serve a God he didn’t trust, led by a prophet he disregarded … Poor Saul was in over his head before his toes even got wet. Every decision he made seemed to sink him further. His pride magnified his incompetence, his cowardice belittled his leadership, and his volatile temper stripped him of any respect due the throne.
We read of Saul’s suicide and postmortem humiliation in chapter 31 of 1 Samuel. You’ll find another account in 1 Chronicles 10. There we read this sobering assessment of Saul’s life and kingship:
“So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.” — 1 Chron. 10:13-14, NET
Of all of Saul’s successes and failures — the protection he provided his people, his erratic behavior, the countless laws he kept and broke, the battles he won and lost — the thing that mattered most was his faith.
Some might read this passage and balk: “But Saul did seek guidance from God and God didn’t answer him!” This is true in chapter 28, but by then it was too late. The 1 Chronicles assessment reflects much more than that last battle. It’s about Saul’s entire life. This king fostered a habit of seeking God’s blessing and God’s approval, but never His guidance. He wanted God to do for him and to give to him and to protect him and to honor him and … For Saul, it was all about Saul.
Remember when Samuel confronted him the last time? It was in chapter 15. Samuel revealed to the king that God rejected him and that His Spirit would no longer be with him. What was Saul’s response? He confessed, but he did not repent. In fact, he urged Samuel to keep up appearances and honor him in front of all the people!
For Saul, it was never about God.
When we get into 2 Samuel we’ll study the life of David, a king in great contrast to Saul. There we will discover one for whom it was all about God. Well, within human possibilities. We all know David wasn’t perfect, but his perspective was something we can emulate for God’s glory.
As we close this study, here is my question for you:
Who is your life about?
We can do all the right things — prayer groups, Bible studies, teach Sunday School — and still have the wrong motives. We can have the perfect homes, the perfect lives, and do it all for our own honor. Are we keeping up appearances? Or are we truly, actively seeking God and God alone? Not just His blessing or His approval, but His righteousness.
Your Turn: What is a consistent theme you recognized through this study? What impacted you most?