We take a step back and look at Saul’s overall history and family tree. His family isn’t large but will be seen in many of our encounters. And his military feats span his entire reign.
From what we have in our reading today, Saul is an unusual man. We see him with one wife. He is also less than prolific in the offspring department with five children. This is the same size of family I was born into. The previous generation does NOT match for the two of us! My father is one of eleven children and my mother one of five. I have MANY aunts and uncles! Much more than we see mentioned in Saul’s family tree.
It is possible though that we don’t see all of Saul’s relatives. We are introduced to his father, one uncle and one cousin. These people come into play in many of the stories about Saul’s life so we are probably given their ties to him to help us understand them better. We have no way of knowing how many unmentioned relatives Saul had.
Saul was busy in battle from his first act as prince to his last act in life. Saul killed his oxen and left his fields to battle Nahash and the Ammonites. This was his first act as leader of Israel. It is also how he won the hearts of the people. We are given a list of the nations and peoples he fought in today’s reading. We have “Moab, the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines” (verse 47b) and the Amalekites thrown in there too. Saul was a busy man! Saul was also a successful warrior, because of the hand of God. “Wherever he turned he routed them” (verse 47c). Saul’s life will end in battle as he fights the Philistines. This will be his last act as king.
If this were all there was written about Saul one would say he was a great leader and mighty king. It is a good strong resume. But this is only a snapshot into his life. There is SO MUCH more to his story. We will get to read much of it as we work through the book of 1 Samuel. But even that is abridged. God is the only one who knows the WHOLE Saul.
Our experiences will color how we interpret Saul’s story. Yes, there are parts that are cut and dry. Other parts of his story we will filter through our lives. Was Saul a ‘wicked’ king? Was he ‘crazy’? Was he tormented to the point of insanity? Was his biggest torment grief over the future that he had no control over? Was he naturally an angry person? Was he desperate or depraved? How will you judge him when all is laid before you? Will you judge him? Will you mourn for what could have been? Will you see where YOU could have done the same in his shoes? These are the things I like to consider when I follow a life.
I wonder what my Bio would look like. How will others judge me when my story is told? What questions will be raised by those who are looking at me from a distance? I PRAY the one thing they see is my love for God. If NOTHING ELSE shows through, I pray this does.
Did Saul love the Lord? Did his love for self get in the way? What truly lay in his heart? Only God truly knows.
Father God, I have discovered a sympathy for Saul that wasn’t here before. I know he made many mistakes along the way but if he lived after Jesus fulfilled Your promise would his life have taken a different path? Would he have sought forgiveness? Did he seek forgiveness? Did he ever repent or did he just make excuses? Maybe that was at the heart of his troubles. Did he live by the ‘two rules’: 1) I’m never wrong, and 2) IF you ever believe I’m wrong refer to rule number one.
PLEASE don’t let me fall into that trap! Help me recognize my failings. Help me work on the areas in my life that I wouldn’t want on my resume. Don’t let me hide things from You. There is NO hiding from You! Help me see Your stories through Your eyes and not only my own. Help me find the redeeming part in everyone but not be so focused on that one aspect that I am blind to the rest of their character. Give me Your love for people. Please help others view me the same way; through Your eyes. Not perfect but perfectly loved.