Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Spirit" -> David and Saul

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri painted this picture of Saul attacking David around the 1600.  For thousands of years, the divide between David and Saul has been talked and preached about.  However, I wonder if we really understand the gist of the real difference between them.

The challenge of Christianity is that a bunch of stuff is written down that you don't want to have written down, and what you want to have written down isn't.

However, the tradition of our religion is that you can extract meaning and insight from reading and meditating on it. For example, an important story in the Bible is the foundational story of Saul and David. This story can be read or talked about 100 times, and still something new can be pulled out of it.

It is easy hear the differentiation between David and Saul that is preached every Sunday.

"Saul was a bad man who didn't wait for the Lord's prophet to sacrifice to the Lord," says the preacher on one Sunday.

Wait a bit longer, and you'll hear, "David did a horrible thing of taking another man's wife and killing her husband."

It strikes me that both of these guys were pretty bad in their own way.  David had a problem with women and his children.  When his son rape his half sister, David did nothing other than banish his son.  If we look at Saul's most noticeable child, Jonathan, he turned out pretty good.  Contrast that with most of David's family, Saul may look he produced the better family, in the long run.

So while neither one was any type of an angel, it strikes me that a critical difference is the way that they handle demotion. Once Saul had gotten to the pinacle of his career, he was desparate to hang onto what he had. He was going to fight any and all people that would take away his power.

The idea that somebody must "step aside" and give up power is a remarkable principle that seems to be a post Christ driven event.  Not that I'm saying that people didn't give up power and position before Jesus walked the earth.  However, I am saying that once it is know that the Godhead emptied themselves so that the Logos could become flesh, all other sacrifices seem trivial.

However, Saul was not of this elk, and he was like a mad man in trying to hold onto power.

No where better is this shown is the story of Samuel and Saul. Samuel had told Saul that God would no longer support him. The question at this point is "What should have Saul done at the point that God's hand was no longer on him?

I hope the answer could be obvious to us today. He should have stepped down. However, as can be seen in the story, Saul was desparate to hang onto power, so much so that a prophet of God, worried for his life.

See I Samuel 16:2-4a (NIV)


But Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me."
The LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate." Samuel did what the LORD said.

Here we have a man who of God, and he is afraid of the King.  Saul attacked his own priest, and his own son.  He attacked David, and Saul had his people kill anybody that was protecting David.  I find it important that through all of this, David refused to act against King Saul.  David had this incredible respect for authority.

I you step through the 10 commandments, which one did Saul break so strongly? In case you can't remember all of them, here they are below from Exodus 20. So, which one did he break?

3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.


4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.


7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.


8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.


13 “You shall not murder.


14 “You shall not commit adultery.


15 “You shall not steal.


16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.


17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” 

To me the answer is obvious.  He was somebody that coveted his neighbor's position.  I think that Saul's sin is a sin that we should all be able to relate to, and even relate.  There are many things that the Lord have given us in our life.  The key thing is when the Lord says he no long wishes us to have those things, the goal must be for us to give those things (or positions) up to him.

Otherwise, we risk becoming a little Saul in ourselves.

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