Saul’s story, the coming to power and quick fall from power of Israel’s first king, is perhaps one of the most disappointing in the Bible.
Saul starts out humble enough. He doesn’t ask for power. He hides from it, literally hides “in the baggage.” People have to go looking for him when Samuel announces the decision.
But then he seems to step up, to take the role seriously, to courageously lead God’s people. And his mistakes, those two infamous “sacrifice” moments—one before battle, the other after—seem small, at least to me, the outside observer. I see Saul recognizing the importance of sacrifice, wanting to give God the best.
But I know that’s probably naive.
Looking critically, I see Saul didn’t trust God. He kept trying to improve on God’s plans.
It doesn’t surprise me that he struggled with trust. (More on that in a minute.)
Let’s compare him to David, a man with trust oozing out his pores. David says toward the end of his life, “O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”
I think a big part of the difference between Saul and David, the divergence in paths taken, is attributable to the way they came to be king. For Saul it’s easy. For David, well, never has the word “hard” seemed so inadequate.
Perhaps David trusts God because David needs God, because his own vulnerability and smallness were constant companions through those many years of hiding in caves. David saw God work in miraculous, glorious ways. David knew the power of God because on so many occasions David required the power of God.
Interesting that Saul is tall and handsome and just what the people would expect from a king. David, while handsome, is the runt of his father’s litter and a shepherd.
Saul didn’t trust enough maybe because Saul didn’t suffer enough, because he wasn’t starving or dying or running or disenfranchised.
Once again, the Bible reminds me that suffering is good. Pain, trouble, hurt, despair—they’re all working within me to create good stuff like faith and trust.