Before we were a nation, we were 13 colonies. Each colony had its own leaders, own laws and own customs. The colonies worked together at times and worked against each other at other times. That's how it was with the 12 tribes of Israel. Each Tribe had its own territory, own leaders and laws, own customs. God's chosen people went for centuries under the leadership of "judges." Throughout those years, Israel recognized only God as their King. There came a time, however, when the people (through Samuel) pleaded with God for an earthly king. God granted their pleas -- and that's how Saul became the first king of Israel.
First of all -- Israel wanted to live by "sight" rather than by "faith." God was still their King, but God was a spirit and they could not physically see Him. Also, God was not very approachable. God's people could not even say His proper name, and they felt uncomfortable in his presence. They wanted a king they could actually see, and to whom they could easily relate. Sounds a lot like us today.
Secondly, God's people wanted to be just like the nations around them. They yielded to peer pressure; they were tired of other peoples laughing at them and ridiculing them -- "Where is your God? Show us your King!" Then too, Israel didn't like being different. Israel worshipped and served only one God; they were forbidden to worship and serve other gods. Again, how like us! We, too, are being pressured to be "politically correct," to be more in line with modern culture. We do not like to be seen as "different."
Third, Saul reminds us that all leaders, like all of us, are plagued by sin, are imperfect in what they say and do, are prone to make mistakes and tend to make unwise decisions. It was Saul's disobedience to God, and his sin of jealousy and pride, that caused his downfall -- just like today.
Fourth, Saul's story is a reminder to us that Almighty God is actively involved in government(s) and politics. He always has been and He still is today. God remains in full control.
Finally, Saul's saga is a symbol to us that God is very patient, and very merciful and forgiving. He put up with Saul's sinful disobedience, allowing Saul to remain as king over Israel for 42 years. We should all rejoice that God is still a very patient and merciful God. Plus, it would be well for us to remember that God is the Supreme Ruler over all nations, even ours. Praise be to God.
Don Kuehle is a retired United Methodist minister who lives in Jackson. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 09/13/2018
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