What’s the big deal?
God really wants to tell us about Saul and his choices, so in chapter 15 we see how defiant Saul is and God reiterates that He has rejected Saul as king.
God tells Saul that He is sending him to punish the Amalekites for their treatment of Israel after they left Egypt. You can read about that in Ex 17:8-16 and Deut 25:17-19. In both of these passages God says, “. . . you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven. . .”
We already know that Saul doesn’t obey the specific instructions to (1 Sam 15:3): utterly destroy them, and put to death every man, woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. He took Agag the king alive and only destroyed the animals that were “despised and worthless.”
Surprisingly, Saul doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with this. When Samuel arrives Saul is so proud of himself. This is what he says, “. . . I have carried out the command of the LORD.”
I wonder if Samuels jaw fell open. When he asks why he hears sheep bleating and oxen lowing, Saul explains that he “. . . kept them to sacrifice to the LORD your God.”
Good intentions are never a good substitute for obedience. Again Samuel asks Saul why he didn’t obey and Saul insists that he did obey. (v. 19-20 ) Saul never repents from his disobedience. Samuel tells him that to obey is better than to sacrifice, rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination (Saul placed himself above God) is as the iniquity of idolatry. Because Saul rejected the word of the LORD, God rejected him as king. (v. 22-23)
That brings us to David. What did David do? (2 Sam. 11,12)
He slept with another man’s wife and got her pregnant. To cover it up, he tried to get Bathsheba’s husband to sleep with her so that people would assume the child was his.
Now I always thought that Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was just some soldier in David’s army and that they didn’t really know each other. But in 1 Chron. 11, Uriah is listed as one of David’s mighty men. These men had been with him, since he started running from Saul. I know that there were anywhere from four hundred to six hundred men with David during this time, but there were only thirty mighty men. Over a period of about eight years, I think that David could have known Uriah quite well.
Uriah is fiercely loyal to his fellow soldiers, so when he is brought home from the battle front, he refuses to go home and sleep with his wife. He sleeps in the door way of David’s house and then begs to go back to the battle. David convinces Uriah to stay in the city one more day. That night he gets Uriah drunk, still hoping that he will go home and be with his wife. Uriah just won’t cooperate with David’s plot. He sleeps with David’s servants, but doesn’t return home.
The next day, David writes a letter to Joab, his commander, and explains that he wants Uriah placed in the front lines and when the battle is fiercest, Joab is to withdraw the men around Uriah. David wants to be sure that Uriah dies. He does die. David marries Bathsheba and anyone who knows about the secret sin of the king isn’t talking. Until the prophet Nathan comes to visit. David’s actions did not escape God’s notice.
When Nathan confronts David, David’s immediate response is one of repentance. All deceit falls from him and he admits his sin. I believe that this is why God doesn’t remove David from the throne of Israel. He sinned, but his heart was one of repentance and reconciliation with God.
Now, don’t think that David got off scot free. No, his sin had devastating consequences. First, the son that Bathsheba bore him was struck by God with sickens and died after seven days. Nathan also prophesied that the “sword shall never depart from your house.” David’s reign was characterized by war. Not only that, but God tells us that one of David’s companions will take his wives and lie with them in broad daylight. For what David did in secret, this man would do before others. This was fulfilled in 2 Sam. 16:20-23 by his son, Absalom. These are horrifying and sad consequences.
God knows each of our hearts and He will do what He must to get our attention in an effort to correct us and bring us back into relationship with Him. That’s how much he loves us.
What has sin cost you? Your kingdom, your family, your pride, your status? God is the only righteous judge, and He seeks to shepherd our hearts. Will you let Him?
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