Vol.XIV No.II Pg.4
April 1977

Saul And David

Robert F. Turner

When the Israelites desired a king the prophet Samuel was told to anoint Saul, a Benjaminite. This "goodly young man" stood head and shoulders above the people (I Sam. 9:2), and was at that time a very humble man (v.21). But soon after he began to reign God indicated displeasure with Saul, and directed Samuel to say, "Thy kingdom shall not continue: Jehovah hath sought him a man after his own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). David, of the house of Judah, was to be the new king. These two men give us opportunity to examine, from a negative as well as a positive viewpoint, the type of person who is "after God's own heart."

Saul's reign began with an up-beat of courage and success in battle. But he was told to tarry seven days at Gilgal, and Samuel would come there to offer sacrifice unto Jehovah. The prophet was late, and Saul decided to make the offering himself — although he had no authority to function in this capacity. When Samuel arrived, and questioned his activities, Saul excused himself with situation ethics and a passing of the buck. "The people were scattering," he said. "Thou camest not," "the enemy was close, and I had not entreated the favor of Jehovah," and so "I forced myself" to make offering.

Note particularly, he did not hesitate to presume a holy office; and seemed more concerned for the rite than for strict obedience to Jehovah. He excused his flagrant violation of God's laws with protestations concerning his pious desires to serve God.

A bit later (1 Sam. 14:) Saul built an altar unto Jehovah, but Jehovah would not counsel him. He would have killed Jonathan, his son, to enforce his own curse, had not the people rescued him. Yet, when God placed a curse upon a people, he changed the penalty to suit his taste.

God sent him to "utterly destroy" the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:). "But Saul and the people spared Agag the king.. and the best of the sheep... etc." He blamed this upon the people, and said he had saved the flocks "to sacrifice unto Jehovah." And Samuel said, "Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah?" This man who was strong on ritual and outward service, but who changed the rules to suit his own ideas of "good works," was rejected from the kingship.


When God sent Samuel to anoint a successor He said, "Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). The trust of that heart was shown when David went forth to meet Goliath, armed only with a sling, but saying, "Jehovah saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is Jehovah's" (1 Sam. 17:47). In contrast to Saul's priestly presumptions, David showed great respect for God's anointed — even though they were enemies at war (1 Sam. 24:3-7). Unlike Saul, who excused his rebellious heart that he might have flocks to sacrifice; David refused a gift of a place to build an altar, saying, "Nay; but I will buy it of thee at a price; neither will I offer burnt-offerings unto Jehovah my (continued next page)