1 Samuel 9-16
I find the life and reign of Saul, the first king, to be sad and puzzling. He keeps fighting these battles splendidly and winning, but the Lord becomes regretful for making him king, because he is not following His commands properly.
Well, Saul is fighting and winning the appropriate battles, but when Samuel doesn't show up in time to perform a certain crucial sacrifice, Saul does it himself. Saul also seems reluctant to totally destroy the cities he conquers, taking an enemy king captive instead of killing him, and thinking it better to save the best of the enemy's livestock to use for sacrifice instead of just slaughtering all the animals. (His army still did destroy all of the people, except for said king.)
So, the Lord rejected Saul as king. "The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him" (16:14).
As I read these chapters, I had the sense that Saul was trying to do his best. He didn't seem to be trying to be willfully disobedient. If anything, he just seemed a bit clueless about what was really sacrosanct, and which matters he could take into his own hands when other things didn't work out quite as he expected. After all, he was not raised with priestly training, as Samuel was.
But I'll keep reading and see what happens next. Maybe this will become clearer as we watch the next king come on the scene: David.
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