How many times has this happened to you? You're scrolling/flicking through the Facebook news feed and you come across an interesting piece of social networking juice. "She's going out with him?" Or "She broke up with him? I can't believe it!" Or "Wow look how far she has fallen...I saw it coming I suppose." What brings us to this place of complete infatuation with the social lives of everyone bearing the title, "friend?" What makes us so inclined to continue to click "See more comments" on each interesting status or wall post? We even find ourselves going on our own pages, clicking several years back to mouse-click our way through the "glory days" or maybe to relive a relationship that once was, but is no longer.
My Old Testament professor assigned the reading of 1 and 2 Samuel this weekend and because I pretty recently read through those books in my reading plan, I have a pretty good understanding of what takes place within its pages.
1 Samuel documents the birth and calling of Samuel as the prophet of God that would anoint the first king of Israel. In 1 Samuel 9:17 God says to Samuel concerning Saul: "Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people." The following chapters detail the military campaign of Saul throughout the land, defeating several different nations, increasing his reputation and notoriety. In the end it is all in vain. In 1 Samuel 15:28 it reads:
"And Samuel said to [Saul], 'The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.'"
As you can imagine, Saul is devastated by this decision. Even Samuel is taken aback by God's rejection of Saul seen in 1 Samuel 15:35;16:1 where it says Samuel "grieved over Saul." God even questioned Samuel in his grief asking, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?"
The fact that Samuel never saw Saul again until the day of his death explains the strained relationship they now possessed. But never could the strain of their relationship compare to the tension between the now rejected King Saul and the newly anointed King David.
By the command of the Lord, Samuel travels to Bethlehem to meet a man named Jesse where the new king will be found amongst his sons. Samuel rejects the first six sons but when David is called from the fields where he was tending the sheep, "The Lord said, 'Arise, anoint him, for this is he." David is anointed by Samuel as the new king of Israel. Soon after, he enters the service of Saul, becoming his armor-bearer.
Over the next few chapters of 1 Samuel, David becomes a very popular guy. He is loved and admired by everyone in the army, the army officials, Saul's own son Jonathan, and even Saul. Upon their return to Israel, the army is greeted by the women of the cities dancing, celebrating, and singing:
"Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands."
You can imagine Saul not being too happy about this proclamation. The women are essentially saying how much greater David is than Saul, embarrassing him in the midst of the cities he once ruled, declared weaker in the eyes of the people that once loved him.
It is important to recognize that once the Spirit of God left Saul, harmful spirits began to torment Saul. One such event is documented in 1 Samuel 18:8-16:
"And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”And Saul eyed David from that day on.The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand.And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people.And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lordwas with him.And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him.But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them."
Saul was overcome by the evil spirits that would torment him to the day of his death. He was blinded by his rage, bound by his jealousy, murderous in his threats. Saul hated David and would attempt to kill him on several different occasions. One such attempt is found in 1 Samuel 18:17-30 sending him into immediate danger as a a request to "fight the Lord's battles" with the hope of David being killed by the Philistines. This however, proved to only benefit David as the Lord was continually with him, helping secure the certain victory of David.
Saul became so obsessed with revenge against David, the man that had "stolen" the Kingship from his very hands. Throughout the rest of 1 Samuel, Saul is seen pursuing David throughout the land of Israel plotting to kill him at every opportunity he gets.
Is this any way to live? A continuous existence based solely on trying to deal harm to another. I feel that many people are trapped in this lifestyle. We feel we have been so greatly wronged by what someone has done to us and take great joy in any negative thing that happens to the one that has wronged us. Believe me, I know what it is like to be trapped in this vicious cycle. No matter how many times we see someone fall, we never find satisfaction in their plight, we never feel justice has been served. This way of life is one characterized by spite and unjustified anger, bitterness and selfishness, a refusal to move on in forgiveness. Saul would die by his own hand, amongst his sons and the men of his army.
David was by all means, justified according to the world's standards to take great joy in Saul's death. He could have thrown a great feast at finding out he was no longer being pursued by the vengeful and murderous Saul. He could have marched throughout Israel shouting that the rejected one of God was finally dead! But that is not what we find in the beginning of 2 Samuel.
David is wrecked when he hears news of Saul's death. He immediately does as was custom in those days and tears his clothes in great distress and mourning. The men of David do so as well, following their king. David even goes so for as to kill the sojourner that delivered the news to him concerning Saul's death,
Have you ever realized that the messenger was probably just as surprised at the reaction of David as we are? He was trying to gain favor with David by killing his pursuer, but in the end would only secure his own execution. David would take no joy in the death of Saul and his men.
It is no wonder Paul wrote in Romans 12:15: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." As Christians we are called to move past all bitterness, anger, jealousy, hate, and revenge, no matter how justified we are in having those feelings. Do you believe that God is sovereign? If so, consider that the trials and struggles we experience only prove to benefit us in the end. God is shaping our testimonies, giving us the opportunity to reach out to others that have experienced the same difficulties in life.
Saul died by his own hand because he was so overwhelmed by what had become of him. In 1 Samuel 15:35 where it says "And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel" we must understand that God does not make wrong decisions or regret the things that He allows. God is expressing his own sorrow at Saul's downfall. God does not want to express sorrow for our lives, He wants to see us live.