November 22, 2020

Saul: A King After God's Own Heart

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 13:1-22

According to the Church Calendar this Sunday, November 22, 2020, marks the end of the Church Year. We call this “Christ the King Sunday”. Next week the season of Advent begins. Today the Church of Jesus Christ remembers and celebrates that our Lord is the King of kings. The One who was crucified, raised from the dead, and now ascended into heaven is the Lord of the universe. This means all of life from politics to family, labor and sports, science, art, history and anything else you can name – all of it is under the rule of Jesus Christ, the King after God’s own heart.

To remember and celebrate this Gospel Word, we have turned our attention once again to the story of Israel’s first king – King Saul. This is not an account of a man who through struggle and hard work rose to the top and became a great leader of his people. From his futile search for some lost donkeys, to hiding among the baggage, along with his almost pathological shyness to say or do anything, Saul is not much of a leader. However, at the end of our reading for the last time, he did move into action and saved his people from a tyrant, a foreign bully who was hell-bent on subjecting the people of God. However, the flash of brilliant leadership we saw in I Samuel 11 quickly flames out in our reading today from I Samuel 13. In our text Saul acts foolishly and any hope for a bright future for the house of King Saul is now gone. So what happened? What has Saul done to deserve the rebuke that Samuel speaks against him in verses 13-14, “You have acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command of the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure.”

How old was Saul when he became king?
What is the name of his son?
What does Saul do that he was not supposed to do?

The Bible is not a “feel good book” that teaches simple moral lessons about being kind and nice and loving. As the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the universe, the God whom we worship is not a God who is to be tamed and fit into our own made up piety. We come to God on God’s terms and not our own. We come to God by way of Jesus Christ and the grace he secured for us at the cross. People who were dead in their sins cannot dictate the terms of the relationship with the God who has made us alive in Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord. We come into the presence of a loving and saving God by way of a living and active Word that reveals the gospel.

Saul needed to know that and so do we. We need a high view of Scripture to really know God and his will for our lives. In our text Saul fails to honor and submit to God’s Word. Through the prophet Samuel he received that Word which gave him is calling. However, what we see in our text is a man ruled by fear and a desire to be more than he is called to be. At issue in our text is King Saul’s disregard for the Word of the Lord. Saul’s sacrifice is not an act of reverence and worship. He is acting foolishly because he disregards the Word of the Lord.

How long was Saul supposed to wait for Samuel to come to Gilgal?
What is happening to his army as they wait for Samuel?

When Saul intrudes into matters in which he had no business he demonstrates a lack of trust in the Lord and his Word. Think about it. Why did Saul choose to offer the sacrifice before the arrival of Samuel? Did he think Samuel would not show up? Was it his desire to bring worship to the Lord? No, it was nothing like that. Saul saw his army disintegrating and he became scared. Instead of living in reverence for God and his Word, he becomes scared of the enemy and of losing his position of power. Saul reduces the monarchy in Israel to power and military success when it is supposed to be about being a servant of the covenant Lord and leading the people to live in obedience. Saul should be ruled by the Word of the Lord, instead he is ruled by his own fear and the desire to retain his position of power.

When Samuel rebukes Saul, what does he say to him? What will Saul lose?
Initially, who is the man “after God’s own heart”? Who is he in the fullness of time?

How do we bring this Word into our lives in the world today? First, we need a high view of God’s Word, but not one that is rigid and suffocating. We need a view of God’s Word that is living and active and understands the times in which we live. Christ is King. The battle is over and we have won. Saul could not see forward. He could not trust his future to the Lord and for this reason he will be removed from the kingship.

Second, we need to know Jesus Christ who is the “man after God’s own heart”. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ in I Samuel 13. Unlike Saul, in Christ we see perfect obedience to the word and will of God. By grace, through faith, it is now ours. Christ is the King of kings and we live all of life for him! Amen.