Chapter 10: Standing Tall, Falling Short
Today we are talking about King Saul. He had it all. He was tall, dark, and handsome. The Bible says he was anointed by God, given the Spirit of the Lord and a new heart, and made into a new man. He was appointed King of Israel and praised by the people. He was on top of the world. He had climbed the proverbial ladder. But the only question that remains once you have climbed to the top of the ladder is... “Where do you go from here?” Let’s talk about it.
1 Samuel 8-16 (selected verses)
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.”
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on (Saul’s) head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lordand you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage… the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will… be turned into another man…
God gave him another heart… And the Spirit of God rushed upon him. - 1 Samuel 10:1, 6, 9a, 10b
And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!” – 1 Samuel 10:23b-24
(Kish) had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. – 1 Samuel 9:2
Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them…”
(But Saul) took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction. The word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”– 1 Samuel 15:1-3a, 8-11a
And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night.” And (Saul) said to him, “Speak.” And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “... Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king over Israel.”
– 1 Samuel 15:13-22a, 23b
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:1-6
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature… For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
For Adult Homes and Groups
1. Read the scripture below regarding King Saul. In the text, God essentially says, “Don’t be impressed by King Saul who has reached the top of the proverbial ladder. If you do, you are measuring people by the wrong standard.” Saul ascended to the top of the political ladder, but that did nothing to earn him a right relationship with God.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NET
2. Which proverbial ladder do you spend most of your time and energy climbing? (Professional? Kids? Wealth? Health? Other?) With each “rung” you climb, how long does the joy of that accomplishment last?
3. What are the false beliefs that keep you climbing that ladder despite knowing there may be more faithful ways to spend your time and energy?
4. With God’s glory as the motivation for what you do in this world, how can He use your efforts in those areas (professional, kids, etc.) to glorify Himself?
5. Pray for God to change your heart in whatever way He needs to continue to align your priorities with His.
For Families with Kids
Memory Verse: 1 Samuel 3:1b - Read it, talk about it, and learn it!
1. We can hear God through a voice like Samuel, but most often we hear God by reading or listening to the Bible. Say a prayer asking God to speak to you, then read John 10:27-28 aloud. Ask everyone to sit quietly for 2-3 minutes with their eyes closed. Talk about what God may be saying to you.
2. Prayer: Thank God for anything that He brought to mind, and ask Him to help you become a family who listens together.
The story of God and His people. The Story is a book that tells the grandest, most compelling story of all time. It sweeps you into the unfolding progression of Bible characters and events, allowing the teachings of the Bible to read like a novel. During The Story message series, January 8 - June 11, we will read through the Old Testament portion of The Story together, and the weekly readings will coordinate with each Sunday’s message. Like any good story, The Story is filled with intrigue, drama, conflict, romance, and redemption - and this story’s true!