Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I have always been fascinated with the Biblical account of King David. I would even venture to say that he is my all-time favorite character in the Bible. For as long as I have been a Christian, I have marveled at how this “man after God’s own heart” committed adultery, murder, multiple acts of outright disobedience and still remained “a man after God’s own heart,” right to the bitter end. Oh, there were consequences, all right. God proclaimed that the sword would never depart from David’s house and it didn’t; however, David’s house remained intact. I have been taught it was because of David’s true and contrite repentance before God every time he sinned. Other characters in the Bible sinned and repented, but not one of them was called “a man after God’s own heart.” That designation belongs to David alone. This has intrigued me for many, many years and probably will until the day I’m called home.

The other night, I was looking for a comforting Bible story so, naturally, I ended up starting at 1st Samuel, intent on going through 1st Kings and Solomon. I couldn’t settle my spirit on it this time, though. Strange. So I went to the laptop to check my email. Several of my devotionals had arrived. Talk about shock value. They were ALL about. . . not King David, but King Saul. So back I went to 1st Samuel but, this time, reading it from Saul’s perspective, not David’s.

Saul was an unknown who was crowned the first king of Israel. God sent Samuel to anoint him while he was looking for some lost donkeys. Why Saul? Not sure. He was a head taller than the rest of the country, but God must have had a better reason than that. I’m sure he saw something in Saul that excited Him. Was Saul the originally-intended recipient of those glorious words, “a man after God’s own heart?” We will never know. What we do know is that Saul started out well. . . well, good enough, I guess, for a man who was hiding in the luggage during his coronation! Was he scared? I guess so. I know I would be. Israel wasn’t in such good straits at this time and they ticked God off mightily by demanding a king so they could be like other nations. I’m not so sure I would want to lead this rebellious people either. I feel Saul really gave it his best shot. It wasn’t good enough.

In studying these chapters from Saul’s perspective, I discovered something interesting. We usually think of Saul’s failures first, but Saul was basically a good king. He did all the right things. He prayed, he sacrificed, he got appropriately incensed when his people were threatened. He fought well and defeated some of Israel’s fiercest enemies. So why did he fail so miserably? He did most things God’s way, but he inserted just enough of himself in there to screw things up.

The first time he really made a mess of things, he was to wait for Samuel to bless the sacrifice. He was to wait until the 7th day. Did he? Well, yeah. . . the beginning of the 7th day. Samuel showed up later on and boy, oh boy, did Saul hear about it!!! So, technically, he did the right thing, but in reality it was the wrong thing.

Then he pulled the biggie. God ordered him to totally destroy the Amalekites in the land because they had attacked the Israelites coming up out of Egypt under Moses. This was to be God’s retribution, a definitive stroke to show that there indeed WAS a God in Israel. Off Saul went with his army, fully intent on doing the Lord’s work. The Israelites fought bravely and gallantly, destroying every man, woman and child, save one and a couple of choice heifers and some sheep. I honestly think Saul felt he did it correctly. I’m not sure what he was going to do with their rotten king, but he was going to sacrifice only the best animals to the Lord his God. But when Samuel arrived, lookout below!!! Saul insisted he did it right; Samuel insisted he did it wrong. Then Saul got scared, tore off Samuel’s robe trying to hang on to the holy man and, well, you all know what happened. Samuel yelled that God had torn the kingdom out of Saul’s hands in the same way and that it would be given to a neighbor, “a man after God’s own heart.” We all know who that was. Yet Saul still begged Samuel to go up with him to worship, even after this prophecy was made. He was still trying to do the right thing. It didn’t do him any good.

So why am I reiterating this whole gory story? I think those devotionals and the re-reading of those chapters from Saul’s perspective and NOT David’s was God’s way of showing me that many times, I’m much more like Saul than David. I don’t want to be, but I am. I am a very impatient person. I doubt I would have waited for Samuel either. Many times, I have been given Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I’m not good at being still. Being still implies doing nothing, just sitting there. That’s just not me. It should be, but it’s not. How many times have I jumped the gun on God, doing what I thought was right and from Him, only finding out later that I was wrong once again. Had I waited. . . well, you know.

The other thing that was pointed out to me in this study is that, also like Saul, I tend to follow God 99 and 44/100ths. That’s close, but no cigar, folks. I will follow steps 1-9 and blow it on Step 10. Why? I guess I still think my way will work just as well. I’ve been a Christian a long time. You’d think I’d know better by now. Obviously, I don’t.

I don’t want to be Saul. I want to be David, big fat sins and all. Saul failed; David triumphed. They both sinned. David did it differently. I do it like David some of the time, but I do it like Saul most of the time.

So how do I change this? Sounds easy, but it’s not. One thing is to take Psalm 46:10, the dreaded “Be still and know that I am God” to heart. Be still. That’s not hard to understand. So why can’t I do it? Not sure, but I know I will try to do it more. Being still between each step will also help me avoid the big faux pas on Step 10. It won’t be easy, but now I see it from Saul’s side. He really wanted to be a good king. He did the right things. He just didn’t do it all the way. He meant well, but he didn’t end well.

Saul ended up falling on his own sword at the battle on Mt. Gilboa, the Philistines then dismembering him and hanging his parts up on a wall. David went the way of his fathers, peacefully in his own bed, with the promise of God that one of his descendants would always sit on the throne of Israel. That sounds a lot better to me.

So how many of you are more Saul than David? I raise my hand and slink away sheepishly. I much prefer my own bed to hanging on a wall somewhere in enemy territory. I know I have some very difficult work ahead of me. “Be still and know that I am God.” Yes, Lord, I hear You. And today, for once, I will listen and do as You say. . . but only if you help me overcome myself.


  1. Wow! I will have to chew on that a bit! Deep subject.

  2. I have to admit that I, too, am more like Saul. I find it difficult to be still and know that He is God. I grew up with no faith or rather a faith there was NO God and a huge work ethic so it was more like work hard and know nobody else will. I always feel like I'm a slacker if I am doing less than three things at once. Something I need to work on.

    SOmetimes the Lord does call upon us to be still so He can speak to us. Most often that is about 3am for me. One of the few times I am anywhere near still.

  3. WOW. Got your blog url from JoJo Tabares on my fb page. I needed to read this today. I've had those exact same thoughts lately. For a long time actually, just haven't been able to put it in words as eloquently as you did. Thanks.
    Denise Lower, Daughter of Grace

  4. Being still must be hard for many of us. For me, it's that I like the feeling that I accomplished something significant in a day - whether it is teaching a class or cleaning a room. But the quiet times often get lost in the "doing" times.
    I think it is also hard to listen to God when there is much going on around us. Whether it is kids or radio or tv, or whatever. And if we follow the dictates of society, "stillness" has just about been abandoned.
    Thanks for sharing - you are a deep thinker that will bless others with your thoughts.

  5. Carla, you have made this come ALIVE! We live in a world that never rests, a fast-paced, give-it-to-me NOW world, where *I* is king. Resting, being still, waiting, less of me, more of Him...that's where I want to be! Thank you for sharing this. I will be chewing my cud all day today.

  6. I love this post, Carla - and I know how healing it is to write when you are going through something gut wrenching - and difficult. Pain can sometimes find its release in going to these stories in the Bible - and finding comfort in those imperfect figures that we look up to. I've always identified with Saul - thanks for posting this, my friend. I'm praying for you.

  7. Wonderfully written, wonderfully thought out and a wonderful teaching as well!!! I to most definitely can line up with you in all of it and daily need the Lord's Wisdome to get through and still have a life in Him. Self is a deadly word in the Lord and I would REALLY like to put self on the shelf and LEAVE IT THERE, were it not that we need self to navigate the world, too, but I am learning how to let the Lord be the Lord of my life!!

    God help me one more time Lord for I too am a sinner in need of your forgiveness and Your Hand under my feet...!!

  8. Just last night my family was reading about Samuel and Israel demanding a king. I'm glad I read this today, because it will give me something to think about as we continue through the book.

    I'm glad I finally got around to looking at your blog. I have been really bad about reading blogs lately. Praying with you and your family.