Tag Archives: Saul

God’s People, part 50: Fugitive

Read 1 Samuel 20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“This made Saul very angry. ‘What’s this?’ he said. ‘They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!’” (1 Samuel 18:8)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

thefugitive3Part 50: Fugitive. Back in the early 1990’s there was a Harrison Ford film that came out, called Fugitive. It was a remake of an earlier television series and it tells the story of Dr. Richard Kimble who comes home from performing emergency surgery to find his wife has been brutally murdered. What’s more, he gets accused of being the murderer, convicted and sentenced to death. On the transfer to the State Penitentiary, the inmates being transferred pull off an escape and, though he had nothing to do with the planning of that, Richard Kimble finds himself a fugitive on the run.

The whole film centers on Kimble’s struggle to keep his newfound freedom all the while solving the mystery surrounding his wife’s murder. He’s out to find out who killed his wife and exonerate himself in the process. Imagine being accused of something you never did, and imagine having to also deal with the grief of losing the one you loved in the process. Imagine the tragedy, the pain, and the horror of that scenario.

This story is not a new one. In fact, it is quite ancient. The story of David and King Saul is a similar story. David had loyally served the king; however, the king knew that his days were numbered and he had a hunch, as strong hunch even, that David was going to be the end of him. As such, King Saul sought to kill David at every turn, including using family and friends closest to David to lure him to his death. That plan ultimately backfired and Saul’s paranoia became a self-fulfilled prophecy; however, much of David’s early adult years were spent on the run and in hiding as a fugitive.

Like Dr. Richard Kimble, David was innocent in that he had not actively sought to undermine or overthrow the king. Yet, the king was not without reason for distrusting David. First, Samuel had told Saul that his reign would end and that he was going to find a replacement for him, someone who was not of his bloodline. David was anointed by Samuel and, no doubt, word of that had to have reached the king’s ears.

What’s more, while David could display great restraint and humility, he also had an ego. He was a successful warrior and was being cheered on like celebrity, over and above the king. At one point the crowd shouted, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7 NLT)! Also, there’s no evidence that David did anything to stop the crowds in their cheering.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that David did anything to “deserve” Saul’s treatment. Saul was wrong, period. Saul’s reaction to David was further evidence that he didn’t have what it takes to be King, and his ego was even larger than David’s. So, the weakness we are addressing today is that of the ego. Every human being has one, some just have larger ones than others. But we all have them.

The challenge today is to open our hearts and allow Christ to put our egos in check. It is okay to think well of one’s self, to be proud of one’s accomplishments and to want to succeed in what one does. Those things are good qualities; however, there is a fine line we ought not to cross. Open your hearts and allow God to soften them so that your egos don’t run away with you, making yourselves or those around you into unnecessary fugitives.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You can either be a host to God, or a hostage to your ego. It’s your call.” – Wayne Dyer

PRAYER
Lord, help me to find freedom from my ego so that, in humility, I may be a host to you and one of your vessels of service to others. Amen.

God’s People, part 46: Michal

Read 2 Samuel 6:16-23

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“In the meantime, Saul’s daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, and Saul was delighted when he heard about it.” (1 Samuel 18:20 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

MichalPart 46: Michal. In all honesty, when we get into the kings, we could spend a lifetime accounting for each of the kings and their families. King Saul, alone, had a wife with whom he had four sons and two daughters. He also had a concubine with whom he had two more sons. For the purpose of these devotions, I will limit my focus to the major children of the kings.

Michal was the youngest of King Saul’s daughters and, as such, she almost doesn’t even have a story to tell in the Bible. Indeed, her older sister Merab was originally offered to David as a wife; however, David did not feel worthy of being the son-in-law of the king (1 Samuel 18:17-19). King Saul did not really want David for a Son-in-Law (and I believe David knew that), but was obligated because he promised to give his oldest daughter to him if he defeated the Philistines in battle. When David succeeded, Saul was obliged to hand over his daughter.

Yet, David did not take her as his wife, but passed her off (in good patriarchal fashion) to someone else. But David would, as it turned out, be the son-in-law of of King Saul, who’s youngest daughter fell in love with him. Saul was overjoyed about this as he saw it as another chance to have David killed by the enemy. Great father-in-law, right? Can anyone blame David for not wanting to marry into that family? All the same, Michal’s dreams came true and she did end up being David’s wife.

Yet, here’s where the dream turns into a nightmare for yet another one of our beloved women of the Bible. Michal knew her father was absolutely jealous of her husband, and so she helped David escape out of her window and stuffed her bed to make it look like David is sleeping there. Unfortunately, that is the last time she will ever see her husband again. David does not try to send her any word, at least not that the Bible informs us of, and during David’s years of hiding her father marries Michal off to another man. What’s more, David took several other wives during this same period.

After Saul’s remaining son took the throne of Israel, and David was king of Judah, David demanded that Michal be given back to him in order to maintain peace between them. Nice, right? Michal was being treated as nothing more than a pawn between two saber-rattling people. Having the daughter of Saul as his bride would, of course, reinforce his legitimacy to the throne over all Israel. Make no mistake, David had his sights on being the sole ruler. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, agreed to David’s demand and Michal was forced to leave her new husband (Palti) and she was sent to David. I think it is important to quote the Bible here. “Palti followed along behind [Michal] as far as Bahurim, weeping as he went. Then Abner told him, ‘Go back home!’ So Palti returned.” (2 Samuel 3:16, NLT)

Needless to say, there was much love lossed between David and Michal. She was nothing to him but a pawn in a game of political chess. Michal, on the other hand, lost everything. She lost her family, she lost David (who was her first love), she lost her husband who clearly loved her, and was forced to be David’s wife a second time (which really made her nothing more than a political prisoner). When David becomes king over all of Israel, conquers Jerusalem, and dances his way naked into it as they carried in the Ark of the Covenant, it is no wonder that Michal coldly chastises him (2 Samuel 6:20).

While Michal’s character flaws are less on display here than are King David’s, perhaps we can say that she put a little too much stock in the one she had fallen so helplessly in love with. All of the men in Michal’s life, barring perhaps her second husband Palti, were ruthless, meglomaniacal, abusive men who did not view her for her true worth. My guess is that she probably see her own true worth either. After all, how could she. The question of us today is this: Do you see your true worth to God? Do you see your divine value, given to you by the one in whose image you were created? Don’t put too much stock in people or what they think of you; rather, look to God and to Jesus Christ and know that God LOVES YOU more than life itself!

Michal

God’s People, part 44: Saul

Read 1 Samuel 15

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
Saul groaned to his armor bearer, ‘Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.’ But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.” (1 Samuel 31:4 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

The BiblePart 44: Saul. Well, we come to yet another character in the Bible that people think they know pretty well. Right? We who grew up in the church, we know who that nasty, no good, wicked, egotistical, jealous, power-crazed, heavy-handed King Saul was. There’s no need to discuss him, right?

He was that king who promised to follow God and then didn’t follow through. He was the king who refused to do as God instructed, but went his own way. He was the one who, though anointed by God, he led like he was in league with the devil.  He was an inefficient leader, one who became increasingly paranoid, who murderous in his paranoia and, let’s face it, the dude totally tried to kill the epic, rockin’, swave David. What is up with that?

Well, to be honest, David really wasn’t as rockin’ or swave as people give him credit for. Epic? Sure. But that discussion is for another time and place. In this devotion, we are dealing with Saul and, as much as we would like to view Saul as the villain, he really is more of a tragic hero. Do you know what I mean about that, he is the hero that has it all going for him, the guy who was on the rise until his character flaw got the best of him and he came crashing down, taking others (including his family) with him.

Let us not forget that, when the people rejected the judges, God led Samuel to discover and anoint Saul as their king. Saul was God’s child, God’s chosen leader, and had the potential to be a great king. I am sure that Saul had really good intentions on the way in too; however, you know the phrase: the power went to his head.

Instead of leading by example and pointing the people to be faithful in their relationship with God, instead of ruling God’s people in a holy manner, Saul became more concerned with establishing and solidifying his reign and his dynasty. Instead of taking no prisoners, as God commanded of him and the Israelites, Saul not only took prisoners of war but he took them as slaves.

In fact, it was that disobedience that caused Saul to fall out of favor with God. One might want to have pity on Saul because he chose to keep the King alive (which would seem like an act of mercy); however, he did so only for his own gain, not because he had any sort of benevolent heart within him. He didn’t spare anyone else but the king who he could display as his war trophy.

What’s more, we need to understand that the Amalekites were not good actors, but were attacking the Israelites and trying to eradicate them. A ruler is supposed to do what is in the best interest of his/her people, and keeping one’s people safe and ensuring their survival is at the top of the list. Yet, in his disobedience, Saul showed that all he really cared about was his own vainglory and popularity.

In the end, Saul was rejected by God and he further fell into the abyss from that point on. David was chosen to be the next King (more on that later) and that literally drove Saul mad. He spent the rest of his years chasing after David in order to kill him so that his sons could maintain the throne, and he ultimately failed. Saul, once the hero of his people and the first king of Israel, died defeated in battle along with his sons, his armor bearer, and his entire army.

While it is easy for us to look at Saul as villain, how much harder is it to see ourselves in him; however, is he that different from us? Have we not been chosen by God to reflect the true king, Jesus Christ? Have we not also, time and time again, let our own vainglory (aka excessive pride in ourselves and our achievements) stand in our way? Have we not sought to take control away from God so that we can be in control? Have we not lived our lives with the motto, “my kingdom come, my will be done”, which is the antithesis of the Lord’s Prayer?

Each of us has missed the mark in one way or the other, just like Saul did. The challenge is to repent and turn back to God, rather than letting our desire to be God bring us to our own demise. Repent, profess Jesus as your Lord, and be filled with love, grace, and the God-given power to transform this world through and through.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Emerich Edward

PRAYER
Lord, help curb my pride and remind me of the need to humble myself before you. I am not Lord, you are. Forgive me. I accept your Lordship over my life. Amen.