In these final chapters of 1 Samuel, we see David and Saul’s lives contrasted one last time. As has been the case all along, God has been with his humble, Anointed King. And as we leave this story, with David’s final days in the wilderness, and Saul’s final days on earth, we’re left waiting for God’s true King, Jesus Christ, who would sacrifice his life to save his people, and would never fail to rule with humility and grace.
In these chapters, we see David showing great mercy to Saul, to trust in God to give him the kingdom. But we also see David given to violent anger and pursuing women he shouldn’t have. We see that, if David is going to become king, God needs to show mercy to him. This leaves us waiting for the true, merciful king, whose mercy never fails: Jesus Christ.
In the kingdom of God, there is always suffering before glory. That’s the path David had to walk, as Saul threatened his life repeatedly. And in Jesus, we can see the true suffering king creating a mould for the glory that was to follow.
In these chapters, we see Saul’s kingship going quickly downhill. His pride and his cowardice are starting to blossom, and his son Jonathan is doing everything that Saul should be doing, and finally, the Lord says that he regrets having made Saul king over Israel.
God has listened to Israel’s cries, and he gives them a king just like all the other nations. But when we meet this Saul, we see him chasing donkeys around the countryside for his father. And when Saul is chosen by lot, we see him hiding amongst the baggage. So what do we make of these stories, and this new king?
When confronted with a challenge, the people decide that they want a king who will fight their battles for them. God is their king, and he has already been fighting their battles for them, but he gives in to their request, anyway. And he gives them Saul, a king just like all the other nations. In this, we can see the danger of trusting in human power, and the problem with giving authority to people just because of outward appearances.
After the Israelites lost a battle against the Philistines, their elders gathered and decided that they needed something else: they needed the ark of God to go with them. But for these people who weren’t seeking the face of their God, who were lead by selfish, abusive priests, God wasn’t with them. And so they lost. And in many ways, God lost. But this is who our God is: The God who loves to win, even when he loses, and never more incredibly than on the cross of Christ.
In the time when God hadn’t spoken to his people in a long time, he called the name of a young boy. In a time when the leadership in Israel were corrupt and abusing their people, God had started to work in the small ways to rid his nation of the corruption, and start afresh.