Have you ever read in God’s Word the accounts of how David, a lowly shepherd boy, came before the great King Saul and basically chased away a tormenting evil spirit from him simply by playing skillfully on a harp? Have you ever wondered how he got into this condition, actually hurling weapons at David and acting like a crazy man? Well, it’s quite a story and in order to fully understand it we need to get some background which I Samuel gives us.
When Israel begged God for a king so that they could be like other nations, He gave them their request, although the prophet Samuel warned them against this. God spoke to Samuel in I Samuel 8:7, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (KJV); and again in verse 22, Obey their voice and make them a king. (ESV) Even though God had told the people through His prophets that He did not want them to have a king, they insisted, and God chose a young man named Saul. Chapter 9:1 & 2 reads, There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish…a man of wealth. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. (ESV)
If you want to read the full story, begin in I Samuel 8 and read through chapter 10. In I Samuel 10:24 we read, And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!” (ESV) or as the King James puts it, “God save the king.” They were really happy about this, and the story of how Saul was supernaturally directed by God to Samuel, chosen and anointed, is an amazing story you should read for yourself in I Samuel 10! The spirit of the Lord came upon Saul; it says in verses 9 & 10, .…God gave him (Saul) another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him and he prophesied among them.” (ESV) The people were amazed and knew that God’s Hand and Spirit were truly upon this handsome young man who was now King of Israel!
Wow, what a happy ending! End of story? Hardly!! Actually it was just the beginning and this is where the harp comes into play. Please read on!
I Samuel 12 and 13:1-7 detail some of the battles and conquests that Saul presided over in the strength of the Lord. The first verse of chapter 13 states that Saul reigned one year, then two, and all seemed to be going well. Then two incidents occurred in which Saul sinned and did not fully obey God’s instructions. Sound familiar? God wanted complete obedience from his king and Saul did not give him this. The first incident is recorded in chapter 13:8-14. Saul decided he was tired of waiting seven days for the prophet Samuel to come, as he had said he would. Instead of being patient, he, in verse 9, decided to take matters into his own hands.
We read, He (Saul) waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.”
And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (ESV)
A couple of things stand out here. First of all, Saul had disobeyed the commandment of God that only priests were to offer burnt offerings! Saul obviously knew this, but took matters into his own hands anyway and disobeyed God. How often do we do the same thing in our own lives? Saul’s actions displeased God and He through Samuel reprimanded him. Secondly, Saul was not repentant about his actions. He could have torn his robe, thrown himself to the ground begging for forgiveness or sat in sackcloth and ashes. Instead he made up some excuse and told Samuel “he forced himself to offer the burnt offering!” Remember, God always looks on the heart. He knows everything before we tell Him and He does not look favorably upon deception and half-truths. This is the reason he told Saul through the prophet Samuel that as of that day, his kingdom would not continue but He would give it to another, a man after His own heart. Of course, as we all know, that man was David!
In my next blog tomorrow I will tell you about the second sin Saul committed and how a man with a harp helped him get through this time of mental illness and a tormenting evil spirit!