1 Samuel 16:1
"How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlemhite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."
How different is David's selection as king from Saul's? In 1 Samuel 8:22 God tells Samuel, "Obey their voice and make them a king." God gave the people what they wanted when He lifted Saul up as king. In the selection of David, God provides for Himself a king of his choosing. When the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, Israel got what they asked for—a king like all the other nations. Without the prompting of the Spirit or the counsel of Samuel, Saul became just like all the other kings doing what seemed right to him. Psalm 81:12 explains God's action "So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsel."
Like Samson, Saul always perplexes me. The Spirit of the LORD rushed on both, and God used them, but that doesn't settle my mind as I think of Saul. Samson is listed in Hebrews 11 (the hall of faith) while Saul is not. Romans 14:23 (in today's reading) says "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." So Samson's actions were based upon his faith while Saul's apparently were not.
In two previous events, we see the evidence of Saul's lack of faith. The first is when Saul offered the sacrifice (which kings were not to do) instead of waiting as Samuel, speaking as God's prophet, instructed. (1 Samuel 13:9) The second is when Saul decided to keep the best of Amalek rather than destroying everything as God told him. Saul's unwillingness to submit to God's instruction is evidence of his faithlessness. In both events, Saul blamed someone else for his actions and showed no indication of repentance.
When confronted with failure to obey God's instruction, David's response is radically different from Saul's. David was quick to repent and acknowledge his guilt. In Psalm 32:5, written after he confessed his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, David says, "I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and you forgave the iniquity of my sin." Interesting note: Everywhere else in Psalm, the Hebrew word translated here as confessed is translated as "give thanks," "praise," and "I will thank." So when we, like David, confess our sins we are praising God. How does that fit into your idea of praise and worship?
Hosea 13:10-11 sheds some light on God's selection and rejection of Saul as king. "Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities? Where are all your rulers—those of whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'? I gave you a king in my anger, and I took him away in my wrath."
Sovereign LORD God, I confess my struggle to understand all Your ways. I, like Samuel, grieve to hear of Saul's life and failure. At the same time, I know the consequences when man refuses to yield to Your authority. You have made that painfully evident throughout Scripture. Thank You for a heart on which You have written Your law. Thank You for Your Spirit who causes me to walk in Your statutes and be careful to obey Your rules. Please, Holy Spirit, quickly prompt me to repentance when I sin and remind me that my confession is praise to my God and Savior.