Tag: Saul

Individual Responsibility in Human Relationship—No Tit-for-Tat

David Honors Saul at Death

Through his reverence for Saul in life and response to the death of Saul, David illustrates individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent. Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any relationship, independent of the other party’s behavior. David revered Saul in life and honored him in death to fulfill his responsibility to the God-anointed king, irrespective of whether Saul was good or bad to him. He was accountable to God for the way he related to Saul. Also, independently, Saul was accountable to God for the way he related to David. Their accountability to God was personal and independent, as was their individual responsibility to the relationship.

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Individual responsibility in human relationship is well described by Apostle Paul in his letter to Romans [12:17–18]: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” As we discuss in a previous study under Sin Repentance and Forgiveness in Human Interaction, the phrase “as far as it depends on you” means focus on the aspects that depend on you—the things you control, and leave the other party to handle the things they control. Therefore, Paul’s message reminds every person to perform their individual responsibility in any relationship irrespective of the other party performing or failing to perform theirs.

Battle of Gilboa
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We discuss David’s response to the death of Saul as an example of a person focusing on his individual responsibility in a relationship without minding the attitude of the other party. For several years prior to Saul’s death, he considered David an enemy and pursued him relentlessly to take his life but was unsuccessful. In contrast, as we discuss in a previous study under Guided by Right and Just—David Spares Saul, David remained respectful of Saul as the sitting God’s anointed king of Israel and would not “lay a hand” on him even when he encountered enticing opportunities to kill Saul. When he was informed of the defeat of Israel and death of Saul and Jonathan at the hand of Philistines, David mourned for Saul, Jonathan, and the nation and army of Israel. He mourned for Saul in fulfillment of his responsibility to respect and honor the God-anointed king of Israel. His mourning for Jonathan was an expression of sadness for losing a friend and warrior that represented a great promise for Israel. He mourned for the nation and army of Israel out of spiritual recognition of a need to lead Israel through repentance to regain God’s favor to restore her superiority against Philistines.

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Guided by Right and Just—David Spares Saul

Wins Concession of Kingship

David would not “lay a hand” on Saul because he revered Saul as God’s anointed king of Israel. He was committed to “doing what is right and just” and understood the commitment to mean he would not “stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.” Therefore, he spared Saul on two occasions despite potential strategic advantage of killing him. Saul expressed regret for seeking David’s life; conceded kingship to David in the first encounter; and, in the second, acknowledged David “will do great things and surely triumph.” Therefore, although David resisted the temptation of killing Saul to clear his way to kingship, he won Saul’s concession of the kingship in the presence of several Israeli witnesses. Thus, his commitment to “doing what is right and just” advanced him along the path to becoming king of Israel.

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We discuss David’s interactions with Saul in the context of commitment to God’s mandate to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” [Genesis 18:19] so that God will fulfill his promise. God declared the mandate as he spoke to angels about Abraham. He declared he chose Abraham to become the ancestral father of the Messiah lineage because Abraham will raise his offspring to live in the image of God by doing what is right and just “so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” [Genesis 18:19]. Thus, God established “doing what is right and just” as the guiding principle for living in his image and necessary condition for receiving fulfillment of his promises.

He mandates every person to understand the meaning of “right and just” to guide their response in every situation and will guide understanding and response for those that are connected to him. We discuss David’s interactions with Saul as reflecting his understanding of the mandate. He would not “lay a hand” on Saul or get into battle against him, because “who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless” [1 Samuel 26:9]? David understood that reverence for Saul in awe of God was “right and just” and represented a purpose superior to any other. Therefore, he chose a strategy of avoiding Saul or any battle against him in order to avoid any chance of stretching out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, e.g., see previous study under Mentor Turns Mentee Enemy—in Saul vs David.

Crept up unnoticed
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The strategy became David’s guiding principle in every interaction with Saul as Saul sought to take his life. Two occasions provide clear illustration of David’s commitment to the principle. On the two occasions, David had access to Saul unnoticed. Both situations appeared to present David with a strategic advantage of eliminating Saul as an obstacle to his becoming king of Israel. Some of his followers urged him to take the advantage. However, David chose instead to confront Saul verbally from a safe distance after leaving evidence of his access to Saul unnoticed by either Saul or his troops. Also, he used the occasions to explain to his followers that he could not stretch out his hand against Saul because Saul deserved reverence as God’s anointed king of Israel.

David had opportunity to kill Saul on both occasions but spared him because his understanding of “doing what is right and just” meant he would not “stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.” However, although he resisted the temptation of killing Saul to clear his way to kingship, he was the winner on both occasions because Saul conceded the kingship to him in the presence of several Israeli witnesses. We discuss his interactions with Saul on both occasions to understand his commitment to “doing what is right and just” helped him to advance along the path to kingship.

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Mentor Turns Mentee Enemy—in Saul vs David

David Avoids Saul—while Waiting for God’s Time

We discuss Saul-David interactions in the context of a mentor vs mentee relationship that deteriorates and turns deadly against mentee. David tried containment of the threat initially but later chose avoidance of Saul, established safe distance from him, and moved quickly and frequently to maintain the distance. To implement the avoidance strategy, he setup elaborate network for sending and gathering information to predict Saul’s next move and stay ahead of him. His strategy did not include standing his ground, because he revered Saul as the sitting God-anointed king.

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We discuss interactions between Saul and David in the context of a mentor vs mentee relationship that deteriorates and turns deadly against the mentee. Recall from our previous study under When Promising Path Terminates that David thrived as a high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army. He showed himself an effective leader and cherished the opportunities of his position as his positive reputation grew rapidly among the people. His service in Saul’s army appeared to define a clear path to kingship.

Saul counsels David
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Saul’s relationship with David could be viewed as mentor vs mentee because David was learning from Saul’s experience as he grew in the service. Saul was the king, supreme commander, and an experienced fighting man when David joined the service. Their relationship started with Saul convincing David’s father Jesse to release David into his service: “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him” [1 Samuel 16:22]. However, after David triumphed over Goliath and led Israel to victory against Philistines, his relationship with Saul deteriorated and evolved later into Saul seeking desperately to kill him, e.g., by hauling the spear at him: “I’ll pin David to the wall” [1 Samuel 18:11]. Therefore, we can consider Saul a mentor to David initially that became less comfortable with his mentee and eventually turned predator against him.

David tries containment of threat
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Initially, David apparently believed he could contain the threat. He intended to remain in Saul’s service, loyal to Saul, but vigilant to protect himself from Saul. Containment was adequate initially. He eluded Saul’s spear attack three times. However, the third time was different for two reasons. First, Saul violated an oath to his son Jonathan by throwing the spear at David the third time: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death” [1 Samuel 19:6]. Second, he threw the spear with decisive lethality such that it penetrated into the wall behind David. That night, David decided containment was inadequate and “made good his escape” [1 Samuel 19:10]. David’s strategy against the threat from Saul changed from containment to establishing and maintaining a safe distance from Saul.

The modern-day society presents several possibilities of a mentor vs mentee relationship deteriorating and turning deadly against the mentee. Examples could be found in business, politics, academia, or several other areas of living where a person (the mentee) tries to gain a foothold by learning from or understudying another (the mentor). The mentor often is accommodating initially and could remain so through the relationship. However, if the mentor is unable to accept potential competition from the mentee, the relationship could deteriorate and potentially turn deadly against the mentee. We seek better understanding of the mentee’s options through discussion of the example from David versus Saul after David became aware of Saul’s threat to his life. David survived because of his conduct of the relationship. Saul was determined to kill him and would have if given the opportunity. Similarly, a modern-day mentee faced with a deteriorating mentor-mentee relationship needs to assess the evolving behavior of the mentor and decide whether to contain the threat or pick up and run to save his/her life or career as the case may be.

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When Promising Path Terminates—while Waiting for God’s Time

Army Career Under Saul Ends Abruptly for David

Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. A similar situation occurred for David, when he had to depart abruptly from Saul’s army to escape a threat to his life. David evaluated his judgment by assessing how Saul felt about him. If Saul was determined to kill him, then his only option would be to depart. However, if Saul really didn’t want to kill him, then he should stay and continue his army service. He consulted with Samuel and then with Jonathan and concluded he was no longer safe within proximity of Saul. Therefore, he departed and ended a career that hitherto appeared to be his path to kingship.

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Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. The termination could result in disappointment and confusion, making the person wonder if God was with him/her after all. Many people probably have personal examples to share. However, we forget personal examples for now and instead discuss an example from the life of David to understand how he responded in the situation and consider how the principles of his response could apply today.

Recognizing threat
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Recall from our previous study under Growing Reputation and Pains for David that David’s position as a high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army provided him opportunities to demonstrate leadership and grow reputation as potential future king of Israel. He cherished the opportunities as his positive reputation grew rapidly among the people. His service in Saul’s army appeared to define a clear path to becoming king of Israel. However, the service ended abruptly without leading directly to David becoming king. The service ended because Saul sought to kill David. Realizing his life was in danger within any proximity of Saul, David left the service to keep away from Saul.

But he didn’t leave the service as soon as he suspected that Saul wanted to kill him. He verified his judgment to determine the risk better before he departed. His actions indicate he would have wanted to stay if he could but departed because he determined he had to leave. He had to leave to avoid being killed by Saul. We discuss David’s experience to understand better how a person should respond when a promising path terminates without the expected breakthrough.

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Growing Reputation and Pains for David—in Waiting for God’s Time

Admired in Israel but Hated by King Saul

Events following David’s encounter with Goliath caused growing recognition, admiration, and pains for him. His position as high-ranking officer and commander provided him opportunity to demonstrate leadership and grow reputation as potential future king of Israel. He cherished the opportunity and persevered despite growing enmity from Saul. He was loyal to Saul but vigilant to protect himself while faithfully providing Saul palliative care. However, he suffered an apparent misstep by marrying Saul’s daughter Michal despite indications that the marriage was not of God.

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David leads Israel over Philistines
David leads Israel over Philistines
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Several events that David encountered following his victory over Goliath caused changes important to his preparation to become king of Israel. Some of the changes were clearly positive whereas others appear negative. We discuss the events and the changes they caused: to understand the positive and apparently negative changes and David’s behavior as they developed. Through the discussion, we seek better understanding of how David waited for God’s time in his preparation for kingship and how the understanding could apply to a person’s day to day life in waiting for God’s intervention.

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Waiting for God’s Time—David Anointed King of Israel

Ten More Years as King in Waiting

At times, God does not reveal the schedule for fulfillment of his promise but expects the recipient to follow the schedule. David was anointed king of Israel but did not know how or when he will become king. He accepted the anointing as God’s promise and became king later following God’s schedule, though the schedule was not revealed to him or any other person. We begin a study series to follow the life of David as king in waiting, focused on understanding God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships while waiting for fulfillment of his promise.

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We continue the study series on The King and the People whereby we seek to understand God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. The current study begins a sub series on the life of David as king in waiting. David became the king of Israel at the age of 30, approximately ten years after he was anointed. He accepted the anointing as God’s promise, though the anointing did not provide any information on how or when he would become king. Also, he understood that he would have to follow God’s schedule, though God did not reveal the schedule to him or any person, not even Prophet Samuel that anointed David. Therefore, David would wait for God to fulfill his promise in his way and at his time.

Shepherd boy to be anointed king
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We follow David’s life during the period to understand the events he encountered, how he responded in the events, and the outcome of each event. Our study will identify events that contributed positively toward his becoming king and those that appeared to contribute negatively. David’s life during the period teaches us that waiting for God’s time means working with God. His response in several events made positive impact among the people and built his reputation as a potential future leader.

Furthermore, we see David’s experience during the period as a manifestation of Human Relationship with God Regarding Work, where we discuss the understanding that God defines a mission for every person, divides the mission into task increments, and provides the person guidance to proceed with and complete the task on time. Each task, if completed, leads to a miracle and ushers in the next task. To receive and complete the tasks, one needs to stay connected to God by praying continually and living in the image of God. The study series will show that when David interacted with people in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God (e.g., see Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God), the outcome of the event contributed positively toward his preparation to become king.

In this bible study, we discuss the anointing of David to understand that God provided the anointing as promise to David but withheld the timetable for fulfillment of the promise. Also, we discuss a need of king Saul that opened opportunity for David to begin service in Saul’s army, thereby ushering him onto a step to begin training for leadership of Israel.

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Equality Under the Law—Saul Terminated as King

Saul Violates Basic Civil Rights Principle

Saul was terminated as king of Israel for discriminatory execution of God’s judgment against the Amalekites. He was commanded to destroy all. Instead, he spared the “good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Thus, he applied personal criteria to modify the judgment. Based on the termination of his kingship for the violation, we understand that equality under the law is important to God as a fundamental principle of people versus government relationships.

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We discuss interactions between Prophet Samuel and King Saul regarding God’s judgment of the Amalekites for total destruction. Saul was commanded to execute the judgment. However, instead of applying the judgment equally to all as commanded, he introduced personal criteria to distinguish between the “good” and the “despised and worthless.” He spared the first but utterly destroyed the other [1 Samuel 15:9]: “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”

Samuel rebukes Saul [1 Sam 15:23]
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Equal execution of the judgment, i.e., equality under the law, required destruction of all Amalekites and their livestock irrespective of any differences or similarities among them. Saul violated the principle by discriminating between the “good” and “despised and worthless.” God terminated his kingship over Israel for the violation: “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments” [1 Samuel 15:11].

Recall that Saul’s kingdom was terminated earlier for violating the principle of separation of state and worship. But he was allowed to remain king. Termination of his kingdom meant his offspring will not succeed him as king. But he would have continued to be king and served out his tenure if not for his violation of the principle of equality under the law. God intended his kingdom to last forever, as we discuss in Punishment of Saul Conveys God’s Promise. However, both the kingdom and his tenure as king ended much sooner because he violated fundamental principles of people versus government relationships.

For the execution of the judgment against Amalekites, equality under the law implied equal application of punishment. However, the principle has broader implications: such as equal protection under the law, which Apostle Paul used in his defense during trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea (Civil Rights and Responsibilities); and equal access to facilities of society, which David enunciated to settle a developing dispute among his followers regarding sharing of battle proceeds (David Proclaims Civil Rights Principle). In this study, we discuss interactions between Samuel and Saul regarding Saul’s execution of judgment against the Amalekites and his termination as king of Israel.

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