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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Saul’s Decline Deepens (1 Samuel 19)

Saul’s determination to destroy David increased and he even put pressure on his son Jonathan, who was a close friend of David, and on his daughter Michel, who was married to David, to be part of his attempts. He wanted to use Jonathan’s skills in war and Michel’s home, if necessary, to bring about his sinful plans. Here we see the way that sinful intentions can cause a person to use others for his own benefit and when that happens even his family members are regarded as tools for his own devious uses.

Saul’s powerful love for himself, which in a sense is what jealousy is, failed to take into account that others may have powerful love but express it in other ways. Jonathan was not prepared to share in his father’s sins, but neither was he prepared to allow his father to remain in a state of animosity against David. So he spoke up for David and told the truth about him. It was dangerous for Jonathan to respond in this way, yet courage and consistency shows themselves in times of danger. It is in difficult situations that we see the real character of a person. A godly person dominated by true love will endeavour to bring people together. On this occasion, Saul was persuaded to bring David back into royal service.

Yet Saul was not changed permanently regarding David. The next time David defeated the Philistines, presumably on behalf of Saul and the kingdom, the jealous king could not contain his envy. Instead of pinning a medal on David’s chest, Saul tried to pin him to the wall with a spear. Although David went home, Saul planned to kill him the next day and sent men to arrest him. It was then that Michel showed her love for David by warning him what was happening and urging him to escape. Yet her words about David are not as loyal as those of Jonathan because she gives to Saul the impression that her husband would have killed her if she had not helped him. No doubt, she was frightened of her irrational father, but the author of the book is drawing attention to the fact that all was not well between Michel and David, a situation that will become public later on.

David went to see Samuel, presumably to obtain prophetic counsel. Saul found out where David had gone and sent messengers to arrest him. When they arrived, they saw Samuel and his fellow-prophets prophesying, which may mean that they were engaged in a religious ritual that included praise and prayer and exhortations. Such was the sense of the presence of the Spirit that the messengers were compelled to take part. The same happened when Saul sent another two sets of messengers. Here we can see how God’s power is greater than human expressions of power. The messengers of Saul found themselves unable to resist God and unable to execute their evil intentions.

Saul himself decided to go and sort out the situation. Yet he too found himself unable to do anything about it and even found himself affected by the presence of the Spirit before he came to where Samuel was. Yet Saul’s experience with God was not a healthy or profitable one for the king as he takes off his royal robes. Instead of dignifying his office as king he demeaned it. God was giving visible signs to the people that Saul was unfit to be their king, and their question, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’, indicates that they did not think he was an authentic prophet either.

Saul had the witness of a godly son, had the experience of providence (through his daughter’s response) preventing his evil intentions, had seen the effect of divine power on his agents and even experienced himself the power of God to restrain him, yet he remained on the decline. It is sad to watch a person running away from God.  

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