But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.”
— First Samuel 11:13
Before the battle against the Ammonites, some worthless rebels had despised Saul and questioned his ability to save Israel from its enemies, but Saul had held his peace (10:27). Now that Saul had won this great victory, the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” Saul, however, said that no one would be put to death and that it was the Lord who accomplished salvation in Israel (11:12–13). Saul’s kingship was off to a good start. He had potential for becoming a great king. If Saul had been allowed to die at this point, he would have been remembered as a very promising young king.
Israel had been in a desperate situation, with the Philistines occupying the northwest coast while the Ammonites threatened from the east. In Saul, the people thought they had found the right man to face this difficult situation. However, they were not accustomed to having a king. They had no idea what they were getting into. They had no way of knowing what having such a king would be like until they experienced it. They lived in sensations rather than reality, and the heady notion of having a king led them into making Saul king. As time went on, they found that having a king was not as they dreamed it would be. To this God could say, “I tried to warn you, but you insisted.”
Adapted from David: After God’s Heart, page 31.
Tomorrow: “Religion Defined”