Samuel is so upset about Saul failing God’s anointing as king. Is he sad because he had high hopes for Saul, or just very angry about Saul’s disobedience & disrespect for God? At the end of 1 Samuel 15, it says that Samuel grieved long and deeply for him. When the David-story begins, you get the impression that perhaps Samuel had been sure of Saul because of his looks–remember how he stood head & shoulders above everyone. Now, his first choice is the good-looking Eliab, David’s oldest brother. (Samuel’s idea of good looks is probably strong-looking, able to fight, etc.) So, did God allow Samuel his choice the first time (Saul), and the second time he wasn’t going to get away with it? Perhaps allowing it because it would turn out to be something that tries and strengthens David in the end?
Isn’t it funny how a man of God like Samuel can be so mistaken? Plus, look what he said when God first asked him to go and anoint a new king: “I can’t do that!” (1 Samuel 16:2) Apparently, as much as Samuel loves Saul, he’s afraid of him. This is truly a lesson in the humanity, the fallibility, of humans–no matter how close they are to God!
Ah, the fabulous story of David! Right at the beginning there’s amazing drama: the Spirit of God fills David and leaves Saul, so that Saul becomes depressed. And who does he end up having by him to sooth away the demons with his gifted harp-playing? The very person who will one day replace him as king!
One more interesting lesson, which is the “corollary” to the one about Samuel being human: even though Saul seemed so God-depraved, he still had the Spirit of God taken from him–meaning God must have still been with him. So, don’t all humans have God’s Spirit striving with them (whether or not they recognize it), until He gets totally rejected–and oh the depression/insanity that can then set in!
“Bless our God, O peoples!
Give him a thunderous welcome!
Didn’t he set us on the road to life?
Didn’t he keep us out of the ditch?
He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires,
Brought us into hardscrabble country,
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place.”
(from Psalm 66)