How the Mighty Are Fallen!

Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. - I Samuel 9:1-2

If I were entrusted with the responsibility of choosing the new king, I'd have to admit that Saul sounds like the perfect candidate.  He was a choice young man.  He was goodly, which according to Biblical references means exactly what it sounds like.  He was good and kind, pure and holy, agreeable and pleasant.  In fact, the Bible goes on to say that there wasn't anyone among the children of Israel that was as good as he was.  Hmm, sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Best in the land would make the perfect king.  But how, then, would we explain the following:

In I Samuel 13, Saul grows tired of waiting for Samuel to arrive and offer up the offerings of the people, so the king knowingly defies God's law and offers the sacrifices in Samuel's place.  Big mistake!

As if that weren't bad enough, two chapters later, Saul disobeys God again and doesn't slaughter all of the Amalekites and their livestock.  Instead, he saved the king, Agag, and the best of the livestock.  His reasoning?  "Well, I wanted to sacrifice them to the Lord."  Sounds nice, but obedience is better than any sacrifice in God's eyes.

In I Samuel 18, Saul, in a fit of rage and envy, commits his first act of attempted murder against David, the newly anointed king.  And, as we know, he spends the rest of his days chasing after poor David.

How did a choice young man who was the goodliest in the land take such a drastic turn toward "the dark side"?  What happened to his goodness and kindness?  His purity and holiness?  His agreeable and pleasant attitude?  How did he fall so far so fast?

I believe we can find the answer to that in Samuel's rebuke of Saul's actions in regard to the Amalekites. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? (I Samuel 15:17)  Did you catch that?  When thou wast little in thine own sight.  Before Saul was king, he was essentially a nobody, at least in his own eyes.  But give a good man a lot of wealth and power, and there is a great probability that the man will change and not for the better.  Saul, the nobody, was a good character--someone people wanted to be around.  Saul, the king, was an arrogant soul who sent people scurrying for their lives.

It seems to me that Saul would have been better off to spend his life as a nobody rather than a king.  At least then he would have maintained what truly matters--a clean heart.  I urge you to keep this in mind the next time you long for more.  More money.  More fame.  More position.  More possessions. Whatever it may be that stirs up a whiff of discontentment in your life.  More isn't always better, and sometimes it can turn a good man into a very bad character.  Be careful what you wish for.  You might just get it and find out that it's not all you thought it would be, but by then, it will be too late!