Some biblical characters are more likable than others.
I like Elijah. He's cool. I don't know--there's just something about him. He's rough and gruff. He was a loner. He seems to be a bit of a curmudgeon, a bit of a grouch. But he's cool! He had a fiery passion for God and, though he'd come off as rough and gruff at first, those fortunate enough to get close to him experienced his lovable teddy bearness.
Jeremiah was sweet; he was young and had a lot on his plate.
But, I struggle to like David, actually. As a Christian, there's almost an obligation to like David, isn't there? I guess I can appreciate David's heart for worship and love for God, but--I don't know--I guess all the women and all the sex is a bit of a turn off, a bit offensive to me as a 21st century American woman. And I'm confused as to how David could be so passionately in love with God and yet still need to indulge his flesh so often. Solomon wasn't much better. What was the final count for Solomon's wives and concubines? 1000?!
I guess I have to cut them some slack, considering that they weren't born again or filled with the Holy Spirit.
Anyway, whenever I'd read the story of Saul and David, my sympathies would usually lie with Saul.
I don't know--Saul just kept messing up, couldn't seem to get it right. I guess that's why I've always been sympathetic toward Saul. How often do we keep messing up and just can't seem to get it right?
I guess I felt like maybe God was a bit too hard on Saul.
But, last night I was listening to 1 Samuel again and, while I've caught this before, it was reiterated to me as I listened last night.
Saul had two major flaws:
1. Under pressure, he'd compromise. The Word of God was "bendable" to Saul when the going got tough or when bending seemed reasonable (1 Sam. 13:8-14).
2. Saul didn't take possession of God.
What do I mean by the second flaw? It's almost one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it aspects.
Virtually every time Saul referred to God when he was speaking with Samuel, he referred to Him as "the Lord thy God":
"And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed...
"Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God." - 1 Sam. 15: 15, 30.
I don't know--there's just something utterly creepy, unnatural in the way Saul refers to God, like he's distancing himself from Him. It was always, "The Lord thy God," never "The Lord my God" or "The Lord our God."
Perhaps that was the biggest difference between Saul and David: It wasn't that Saul was just a bumbling screwup and that God simply chose not to have compassion on him. I believe, based upon Saul's own words, that Saul didn't truly have a personal relationship with God--not like David had--other than, perhaps, acknowledging God as Israel's national Deity.
David, on the other hand, regularly talked and sang to God while he was alone, shepherding in the fields. I just can't imagine David ever referring to God solely with the cold, distant "the Lord thy God."
Saul didn't take possession of God. God was not his. God didn't belong to him. And, perhaps, in his heart, he didn't belong to God. Maybe this is why it was so easy for Saul to keep disobeying God. Maybe that's why Saul just couldn't seem to get it right. God didn't belong to him and he didn't belong to God.
There is a beautiful sense of mutual possession in the Bible:
My beloved [is] mine, and I [am] his: he feedeth among the lilies. - Songs 2:16
And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God... - Exodus 6:7
I am thine, save me: for I have sought thy precepts. - Psalm 119:94
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. - Hosea 3:3
Let us also consider...
Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. - 1 Cor. 7:2
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. - Eph. 5:31-32
The word "have" in 1 Cor. 7:2 is the Greek word, "echo," which means "to have, own, possess, to hold one's self to a thing, to lay hold of a thing, to adhere or cling to, to be closely joined to a person or a thing."
A husband and wife own, possess each other. And we know that Christ is our Husband and we are His bride!
We belong to God, but He should also belong to us! Jesus might be your God as well, but as far as I'm concerned, He's my God, my Lord, my King, my Savior, my Master!
That was Saul's problem: God didn't belong to him. God wasn't his.