I think I figured out today why Saul ended up being rejected by God while David has an inheritance that will never end, thanks to his lineage leading up to the Messiah.
In 1 Samuel 15, the prophet Samuel tells Saul to go to the Amalekites and destroy everything. People, livestock, “everything that belongs to them”.
I know, stuff like this is hard to hear. How could God order babies to be killed? He’s God and we’re not. Just accept that his reasons are good enough for him, so they’ll be good enough for us when we learn them. But back to Saul.
So Saul leads the army there and kills the people, but spares the king and the best of the livestock and “everything that was good.” So they only killed and destroyed what they didn’t want.
When Samuel returns to the camp, Saul speaks first: “God Bless you, Samuel! I did what God said!”
Samuel, not being an idiot, asks Saul why there’s livestock all around.
Saul is quick thinking: “Oh, um, we kept the good stuff. You know, to give it to God! We’re going to sacrifice it to him!”
Samuel has had enough. He tells Saul how he’s going to be rejected as king by God for his disobedience. Now check out Saul’s response:
“But I did obey the LORD…I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal. (v. 20-21)
He’s trying to justify his actions. “I did obey, and in the places where I didn’t obey, it was for a totally good reason!”
Samuel, in his reprimand, says the following: “To obey is better than sacrifice”
Saul then fesses up: ”I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.”
It’s like Samuel was dealing with a child. He throws out excuse after excuse after excuse. In his admission, he even blames ‘the people’. Saul never accepts that it was his fault.
Now, let’s check out David.
The prophet Nathan comes to confront David about his affair with Bathsheba and killing husband Uriah. After telling David the story about the man with one lamb being wronged by the man with flocks of livestock, Nathan lowers the boom on David, telling him “You are the man!”
And here’s David’s response: “I have sinned against the LORD.”
That’s it. No ‘The devil made me do it.’ No ‘But I married her, so it’s all okay now!’ He makes no excuses. He doesn’t argue.
After Nathan leaves, David goes straight home, lays on the ground and fasts and prays for days.
And that’s when David wrote this:
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:13-17)
David got it. That it was about obeying God and being open before him. That God isn’t out for stuff we can give him or ceremonies we can put on for him. He wants us. Our whole heart and soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Saul didn’t get that. He thought if he gave God enough of the leftovers he would gladly take them. David knew that if he wasn’t putting God first, before everything else, it was meaningless.
In my life, I don’t want to go my own way, then argue that it was all really for God, so he should totally be happy with it. I want to give him my all and go from there.
I want to be like David, whose kingdom and ministry will never end because he made his kingdom and ministry the kingdom and ministry of God himself.