I have just finished reading the book of 1 Samuel. As I reflect back, I can think of some things that I learned from the life of the first king of Israel, Saul and from it's second king, David. One was the people's choice because they approved of him even though it was still God's man (1 Samuel 9:15-16; 10:24). The second one was God's choice and the people had nothing to do with it. But neither one was God's intent for Israel. God wanted to rule Israel but the people rejected Him (1 Samuel 8:7-8). They wanted to follow the custom of nations around them (1 Samuel 8:19-20).
As I have read this narrative, I can glean a few lessons from the life of king Saul that I need to keep in mind:
1. God saves and empowers those whom He uses.
Even though it was not God's will for Israel to have a king, God guided them in the process of selecting their king. God is not capricious and He wants to bless us and does so in spite of our mistakes (1 Samuel 12:15). God gives Saul His a new heart: "When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day." (1 Samuel 10:9). Saul is empowered by God and even prophesies with the prophets. Soon though, we will see how Saul loses his empowerment (not salvation-see 1 Samuel 28:19) and the kingdom.
God will never give us a task without giving us His power to carry it out.
2. Humility is something that needs to be cultivated daily.
Saul starts as a shy young man, but as he assumes the kingship, what God has said kings would do to the people comes to pass (1 Samuel 8:10-18). Humility turns into pride. Saul manifests his pride when he offers sacrifice to God, something only a priest was allowed to do (1 Samuel 13:8-14). This is a foolish thing that will cost Saul his kingship: "And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever." (1 Samuel 13:13 - ESV). Everything goes downhill from here.
God wants us to be humble and not think that what we are is all because of ourselves.
3. Obedience is better than any sacrifice offered to God.
In 1 Samuel 15 Saul is given direct instruction to eliminate the Amalekites. (Some would see this as event as something to object. See post here for answer) Saul decides to do his own thing and keep some of the spoil. His excuse given is that it was done for God. God's answer is: "“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 - ESV)
You can repent of your sin, and should but this will not eliminate the consequences.
God wants our obedience first. What you do for Him is secondary to that. Period.
4. A life of disobedience to God brings consequences spiritual in nature but affecting the whole person, sometimes they even lead to death.
After Saul decides to disobey God, his life is filled with torment. A harmful spirit from God torments him (1 Samuel 16:14). His life becomes controlled by pride, rage, jealosy, despair and failure. He tries to kill David several times and kills innocent people (1 Samuel 22:6-21). Saul end is tragic. He commits suicide (1 Samuel 30:4) after his military defeat by the Philistines. Unfortunately, his sons including Jonathan are killed as well.
In part 2, I will speak of king David.