David vs Saul (I)

This paper compares the lives of David and Saul. In what follows, I will show that there are five key differences between David and Saul. Throughout the paper, I will be referring to scriptural verses to back up what has been said.

God’s Choice

Let us begin by looking at the first two differences between David and Saul. Eli the high priest and his wicked sons were gone. His God-chosen successor Samuel, the last of the judges, was an old man. The people had heard all the stories about the days when Israel was a great nation and about the years when Samuel was at the zenith of his career, during which he subdued the Philistines and judged the land wisely and well. But most of them knew nothing of that personally. They knew only that Samuel was an old man, and that he had appointed his sons to judge Israel. And what a mistake that was. Let us look at what the Bible says about them in 1 Samuel 8:1-3: “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.”
As a result, the people they wanted something done about it. What they wanted was a king. Actually, Samuel’s wayward sons were not the only reason for their demand. The elders of Israel had a summit meeting at Ramah, a place in the hill country about eight kilometres north of Jerusalem,[1] and it was there that they said, “Samuel, there are three reasons we want a king. First, you are old. Second, your sons don’t walk in your ways. And third, we want to be like the other nations. So appoint a king to judge us like all the nations.” All this took place in 1 Samuel 8:5.
Now people have always wanted to be like everybody else and to do the popular thing.[2] And the Israelites were no exception. They said, “We’re tired of worshipping an invisible God. Everybody says, ‘Where is your king?’ And we have to say, ‘Oh, He’s in the heavens.’ We want a leader here on earth, Samuel. We want to be like all the other nations. Look at the Philistines and the Moabites and the Jebusites and all the other nations. They all have kings. We want to be like all of them.” The Israelites did not say, “We want to wait on God to provide what we need.” This broke Samuel’s heart. So he went to God in prayer about it.
In 1 Samuel 8:7-8, the LORD replied,

Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

So God let the people have exactly what they wanted.[3] Saul came on the scene and swept the Israelites off their feet.[4] He was tall and handsome,[5] and the people of Israel chose him to lead them. They thought, “Wow, Saul’s our guy. He’ll be a good image for Israel.” But before long, Saul became thin-skinned and hot-tempered and was given to seasons of depression and even thoughts of murder—so much of the man who was the people’s choice.
In fact, Saul was rejected by God:

And Samuel said, … Because thou [Saul] hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
… And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. …
And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?[6]

But graciously, God did not abandon His people. Let us look at 1 Samuel 13:13-14: “The LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people.” God had sought out a man after His own heart. In Acts 13:22, David was specifically called “a man after mine [God’s] own heart.”
Why did God choose David? To answer this question, we need to look first at a New Testament passage over in 1 Corinthians. The context here has to do with the way the Greeks viewed the apostle Paul. Some of the readers of Paul’s letters were Greeks, and they were only looking for a surface impression. One’s inner life did not mean a thing to them. The Greeks of that day were influenced by brains and brawn and beauty.[7] In light of this, Paul’s whole thrust in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 was, “I’m not coming to you with brilliance or human wisdom, and I’m certainly not coming to you with any kind of impressionable physique. Instead, I come in the power of God.” And there was a good reason for that. Let us look at what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

What Paul was saying in these particular verses was, “Look around, Corinthians. You won’t find any impressionable people here. Why? So that no one can boast before God.”
That is a principle we tend to forget because many of us are still a lot like the Greeks. Mike Nobis explains, When we look for people to admire, when we choose our role models, our heroes, we are often swayed or impressed by things that are cause for boasting. We want the beautiful people, the brilliant people, and the ‘successful’ people. We want the best and brightest. We are terribly impressed by the surface. The superficial impresses us much more than we would like to admit.”[8] But God says, “That’s not the way I make my choices.”
So there in a nutshell was the reason why God chose David. When God scans the earth for potential leaders, He is not on a search for angels in the flesh. And He is certainly not looking for perfect people since there is none. He is looking for certain qualities in ordinary men and women, and the same qualities He found in David.[9] These qualities are spirituality, humility, and integrity,[10] which Saul did not possess.


[1] Bible.org, “Ramah <07414>,” NET Bible Learning Environment, http://classic.net.bible.org/strong
.php?id=07414 (accessed September 24, 2012).

[2] William Seay, Life of David, Andersonville Theological Seminary [CD], 2006.

[3] 1 Sm 9:1-10:16 (AV).

[4] 1 Sm 10:17-25.

[5] 1 Sm 9:2, 10:23.

[6] 1 Sm 15:23, 15:26, 16:1.

[7] Seay, Life of David; Mike Nobis, “God’s Heart, God’s Man, God’s Ways,” Madison Park Christian Church, http://sermons.madisonparkchurch.com/420-gods-heart-gods-man-gods-way.htm (accessed September 25, 2012).

[8] Nobis, “God’s Heart, God’s Man, God’s Ways.”

[9] Seay, Life of David; Nobis, “God’s Heart, God’s Man, God’s Ways.”

[10] Seay, Life of David; Des Burrows, God’s Heart, God’s Way, God’s Man (or Woman) (Alberton: Free Chapel, 2011), http://www.agfbrakpan.co.za/DownloadNotes.aspx?mId=591 (accessed September 25, 2012), 3-4; Nobis, “God’s Heart, God’s Man, God’s Ways.”