TODAY’S READING: 1 SAMUEL 28-31
The story in 1 Samuel revolves around Saul, the Philistines, and David. As I have meditated on this, I see 1 Samuel as the story of the soul (Saul) being fought over by the flesh (the Philistines) and Jesus (David).
Israel asked for its own king like the other nations, rejecting God as their king. Saul means asked for. Saul was made king.
Each of asks to be the king of our own life, rejecting God as our king. Our soul desires to rule itself.
In his very first battle against the Philistines, Saul refused to wait on Samuel and “forced” himself to offer the burnt offering. Saul went against the command of God. Immediately, Samuel prophesied that Saul’s kingdom would not continue, even though God would have established the kingdom for Saul had he simply obeyed the Lord.
We, by our soul, want to be king and have our own kingdom. We refuse to wait on the Lord and obey our commands. We force ourselves to do what we should wait on the Lord for. Consequently, we lose the kingdom, our hearts, that God desires to establish in us if we would patiently wait on him.
Saul is told to strike the Amalekites and devote to destruction them and everything they have. But, Saul spares the king of the Amalekites and keeps the best of what they have, devoting to destruction only the things that were despised and worthless.
Amalekites means something like “people of lickers.” Dogs, which were despised and unclean in Israel, lick the blood from the earth in 1 Kings 21:19 and 22:38. Psalm 72:9 says that enemies lick the dust. And, Micah 7:17 says that the serpent licks the dust. Therefore, the Amalekites symbolize a people of the basest of natural desires.
Saul’s refusal to destroy the Amalekites pictures our soul’s refusal to devote to destruction our base desires. Instead of devoting to destruction our base desires – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – our soul attempts to hang on to those lusts that seem good while only destroying those that are obviously despised and worthless. So, the world and the flesh begin to rule our soul.
But, it is right at this moment that Lord tells Samuel to find another king, one that God will choose and will be after God’s own heart. It’s here that David, the beloved, enters the story.
When we have proven unable to be king of our own hearts as we asked for, God sends another, his beloved son, Jesus, to be king in our place. Now our soul is caught between the flesh and Jesus. It becomes the battleground.
The Philistines continually came to war against Saul. Saul went to war against the Philistines. David fought the Philistines too. But, he never fought Saul. Instead, David always served Saul. Yet, Saul was continually trying to kill David.
The flesh fights with our soul. And, our soul fights against the flesh in its own strength. Jesus comes in and fights the flesh for us. Jesus is anointed, chosen, to be our king. But, like David, he comes as king to serve us and help us. However, our soul, like Saul, sees Jesus as trying to usurp our kingdom and our kingship. So, we try to kill the life of Jesus in us.
In 1 Samuel, David eventually ends up living with the Philistines. He appears to be an enemy of Saul, ready to attack Saul.
The more our soul fights the flesh in its own strength, rejecting Jesus as the king who comes to serve the soul in its deliverance from the flesh, the more our soul sees Jesus and God as the enemy.
By the end of 1 Samuel, we read the final battle of Saul and the Philistines. Saul and Israel have encamped at Gilboa while the Philistines have encamped at Shunem.
Gilboa means bubbling or boiling spring. Our soul has encamped at a place where it is ruled by fervent, boiling emotions. Our is dwelling in a place of agitation.
Shunem means two resting places, doubly reposed, perhaps even double sleep. Scripture links the concept of sleep and death. Could it be that the place has come to dwell in the place of the second death?
The second death is mentioned four times in Revelation. Those who overcome and take part in the first resurrection are not hurt by the second death and are not overcome by the power of the second death. But, the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars all have their portion in the second death, which is the painful burning away of all that is of the flesh.
So, our soul continually rejects Jesus as its true king. Therefore, our soul views Jesus, God, on the side of the enemy, our flesh – the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. Our soul sees Jesus sided with the second death waiting to destroy us.
In the end, Saul dies on Mount Gilboa. But, the Philistines don’t kill Saul. Nor, does David kill Saul. We read in 1 Samuel 31:4, “Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.’ But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.” End, Saul kills himself, thrusts himself through, with his own sword.
Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua die with Saul on Mount Gilboa. Jonathan means the Lord gave or the Lord of giving. Abinadab means the Father is generous. And, Malchi-shua the king is salvation.
When our soul insists on being its own king, it is not the flesh that ends up destroying us. Nor is it God that destroys us. No, in the end, we die on the hill, the high place, a place of worship, of our boiling, agitated emotions. We thrust ourselves through trying to live by our own understanding. We try to live by our words, our swords. But, it our own words, our own swords, that we fall upon in our death.
When we die because of our soul’s desire to rule itself in boiling, agitated emotions, then our concept of a God who gives, who is generous, and who is our salvation dies as well.
The story of our soul’s desire to rule ourselves and our ultimate demise is quite sad really.
Thankfully, there is an alternative. We can turn to Jesus. We can stop trying to be the king of our own hearts. We can deny ourselves. We can repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. That kingdom is within us, in our hearts. We can give Jesus his rightful place as the king on the throne of our hearts.