The Reading: 1 Samuel 15:2-3, 17-26
“… he has also rejected you from being king” (v. 23) RSV
The Lord raises up and the Lord brings down. As Paul says, “… there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1). God chose and anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel. He was a promising choice; he was head and shoulders taller than other men (1 Samuel 9:2). “The spirit of the Lord (came) mightily upon (him)” (1 Samuel 10:6), and he received “another heart” (1 Samuel 10:9).
In other words, despite his bashful and insecure nature (e.g. hiding in the baggage – 1 Samuel 10:22) he was fully equipped by God to do the job. The sad thing is that most of the time he fell back into his old nature and ruled from weakness and fearfulness. This made him overbearing and erratic. Eventually his self-serving rule was summed up by his mentor, Samuel, “… you have rejected the word of the Lord,” (v.23).
God may exalt a person, but if that person forsakes God’s reign in his or her life, then in due course God will reject them from their ministry. And so it was in the case of Saul, “… he (God) has rejected you from being king” (v.23). God’s rejection may come in many and various ways, but in Saul’s case he took his own life (1 Samuel 31:4).
While Saul was alive David remained as far as possible loyal. Even when faced twice! (Samuel 24:3-4 and 26:8) with an apparently god-given opportunities to kill him, and yet he said: “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he i the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6).
David, who was to be Saul’s successor, was concerned that he also might be rejected from his kingship. Sometimes he had good reason to think that! But he prayed: “Take not your Holy Spirit from your servant” (Psalm 51:11).
In other words the anointing with oil to be king might be removed together with his kingship. We must learn not to live by our old, weak human nature, but to live by the new heart God gives us, and by the power of his Holy Spirit. Then we shall fulfil our ministry and please him.
Forgive me Lord when I act out of my sinful, weak and selfish human nature. Renew a right spirit within me and strengthen me to live, and lead your way. Amen.
1 What can change us from weakness to strength?
2 If we fail what must we do?
Psalm 51:1-4, 15-17