The Rest of the Story -

Standing Tall, Falling Hard

1 Samuel 9:1-27, Does Israel need a king?
1 Samuel 10:1-9; 11:1-15, Saul begins well.
1 Samuel 12:1-2, 13-15; 13:1-14, Saul disobeys...
1 Samuel 15:1-35, Again...
1 Samuel 28:3-20; 1 Chronicles 10:1-6, 13-14, and Again.

More of The Rest of the Story

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Saul and the Witch of Endor. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
1 Samuel 9:1-27, Does Israel need a king? (10/22/12)

During the time of the judges, there was a lot of tension between the ideas that Israel needed a king, and that Israel already had a king, namely, God. Eventually God told his judge and prophet Samuel to anoint Saul as king. Saul looked like an ideal candidate – good-looking, hard-working, considerate, humble, and willing to take direction from the prophet. Although Samuel was firmly in the camp of those opposed to a human king, he promptly did what God told him to do.

1 Samuel 10:1-9; 11:1-15, Saul begins well. (10/23/12)

Judges were charismatic leaders raised by God, who (usually) started out by rallying the people for a battle against some oppressor. Remember that there was tension about whether Israel should have a king and that the biggest Pro group wanted somebody to lead them in battle. Saul, the first king, came into office by God’s selection and through Samuel’s anointing. For this reason, it’s always been interesting to me that Saul’s first official act is to be filled with the spirit of God and rally the people to defend Jabesh-Gilead against the Ammonites, which is in the tradition of the judges. Saul is a transitional figure in more ways than one.

Pay special attention to Samuel’s orders in 10:7-8, because we’re going to come back to that.

1 Samuel 12:1-2, 13-15; 13:1-14, Saul disobeys... (10/24/12)

1 Samuel 13:1, which is omitted entirely by some translations, says that Saul was one year old when he came to the throne and reigned for two years. John Wesley says we need to read the scripture literally except when it leads to an absurdity (see comments), and this statement is clearly absurd, since we know that Saul was a young man when Samuel first anointed him and that he reigned for quite a while. The Greek version of the Old Testament (about 300 BC) omits vs. 1 without correcting it, so apparently the mistake occurred in very ancient times. One of the more convincing aspects of the Bible, it seems to me, is that when the ancient compilers came across something in their old manuscripts or oral tradition that didn’t make sense, they usually just put it in. They didn’t try to “fix” it, because they knew that the word of God didn’t need correction from them. It stands on its own, even when we poor humans make errors in copying, translation, or interpretation. Thanks be to God for his clear message of salvation!

Back in 1 Samuel 1:7-8, Samuel told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for 7 days, at which time Samuel would come and make burnt offerings and peace offerings. When Samuel arrived, he discovered that Saul had gotten impatient and made the offerings himself. I especially like vs. 13:12. How often do I “have to force myself” to do exactly the opposite of what God wants me to do? Come on, Saul! Just admit you did wrong and go on from there! Anyway, since Saul has been disobedient in the first week of his reign, it’s obvious that he isn’t going to work out, and Samuel tells him that he will not found a dynasty.

1 Samuel 15:1-35, Again... (10/25/12)

Saul made four errors. First, he failed to follow God’s orders in the matter of Agag and the livestock. Second, he sacrificed stolen livestock to God; this is as if I robbed a bank and then figured God would be okay with that if I tithed the loot. Third, he tried to put the blame for what he did onto other people. Finally, he was more concerned about what the people thought of him than with what God thought of him. He was no longer acceptable as the ruler of God’s people.

1 Samuel 28:3-20; 1 Chronicles 10:1-6, 13-14, and Again. (10/26/12)

The consulting of mediums and necromancers is forbidden by Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 20:27, and Deuteronomy 18:11. Saul knew this, because the medium whom he consults specifically says that Saul had forbidden such practices. The medium summons Samuel, who reports that God’s view of Saul hasn’t changed since the last time Samuel and Saul spoke to each other. Saul goes out to battle, and when he sees that things are turning out as predicted, kills himself.

Since I know you are going to ask this, consulting mediums and necromancers is the same as worshipping other gods and is explicitly forbidden. Suicide is not explicitly forbidden, although many Christians and Jews consider it to be a sin.

Obviously Saul had a lot of potential, or God wouldn’t have chosen him in the first place. I guess the moral of his story is that potential isn’t enough, and even being chosen by God isn’t enough, to ensure our success. We have to continue to make decisions that keep us going in God’s direction.

More of The Rest of the Story
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
Apocalyptic writings in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time

Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

The woodcut showing Saul and the Witch of Endor is from the family Bible of John O. Spencer and Lydia Bunn, married 18 Nov. 1857 in Hector, Schuyler Co., NY, now in the private collection of Regina L. Hunter. A complete listing of the posted images from this Bible is given at
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Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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