“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1
King Saul had the honor of being Israel’s first king, but his life turned into a tragedy for one big reason – bitterness! God blessed Saul with many benefits; he was tall, handsome, and had a natural leadership quality. And amazingly, he became king of Israel when he was only thirty years old!
Yes, in many ways he was a success but personally, his life was a mess. What were the steps that led to Saul’s bitterness and ultimately to his demise?
• Uncompleted Obedience. Early in his career, Saul made a tragic error; he disobeyed God’s clear instructions given by the prophet Samuel to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions. As a result, the Lord withdrew His favor and David was anointed as king in his place. After the coronation, the Jewish women danced in a victory parade saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David, his ten of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). That led to the second downward step.
• Unappeasable Jealousy. Because the people appeared to make more of David’s single victory than all of Saul’s many triumphs, the king allowed a seed of bitterness to develop as he became jealous of David. And that leads us to our third point.
• Uncontrollable Revenge. For years, Saul attempted to take David out of the picture. But because of God’s divine protection, he was prohibited in doing so; this only increased Saul’s bitterness. Finally, as the Philistines gathered for a huge battle against the Israelites, King Saul and his army were overrun. Saul committed suicide and the enemy killed his sons. Ultimately, King Saul was destroyed by his own bitterness.
Dear friend, when we compare ourselves with others, when we plot to hurt others, we always stray from God. Remember that God loves you and has blessings for you that are only yours. Don’t get bitter, get better!
Dr. Tim Pollock, Senior Pastor