Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Samuel and Saul

The relationship between Saul and Samuel was a difficult one. Samuel knew the people of Israel were making a mistake when they demanded a king. Their failure to trust God was an insult to his ministry. However, God had used Samuel to anoint Saul, so he felt a bond with him. On one hand, he wanted the kingship to fail, so that his warnings would be vindicated. On the other hand, he had chosen Saul, so he would like to see him succeed.

This ambiguity explains Samuels strange behaviour towards Saul. When Saul was preparing for battle, Samuel made him wait for a week, become coming to make an offering to God on behalf of the army. Even when he came, he was later than he had promised. Because his men were fleeing, Saul made the offering to God instead of waiting for Samuel. This is the first step of disobedience that caused God to withdraw his blessing.

I have always felt a bit sorry for Saul. It was almost like Samuel set him up to fail. So, Samuel was partly responsible for Saul’s failure. The prophet of the nation had the responsibility to keep him on the right track. I suspect that Samuel had deliberately put Saul in a place where he would fail, because he unconsciously wanted the kingship to be a failure.

Prophets must be careful that loyalty to their word does not cause them to slip into perverse behaviour.

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