I recall hearing this from Pr Steve Hwang when he was here in Singapore. We were learning about old testatments books.

Both King Saul and King David are all kings of the unified Kingdom of Israel. Seems that in their lives, God left them each 2 tests. King Saul failed in 2 of his tests. While David survived 2 of his test.  We can learn a lot regarding how God makes use of incidents to train us in our daily lives.

The test for Saul are found in the following bible reading
1. Sauls unlawful sacrificed in Gilgal (1 Sam 13)
2. Saul fighting against the Amalek (1 Sam 15)

Davids test are
1. In the strong hold of En Gedi (1 Sam 24)
2. In the Sauls camp (1 Sam 26)

Sauls First Test:
In the story in 1 Sam 13, King Saul and his son Jonathan had attacked the Philistines in their Garrison and the enemies were gathered against the Kingdom of Israel in Gilgal, numbering 30000 chariots , 6000 horsemen and countless number of soldiers.  At this time, the children of Israel saw that they were in a disadvantage, started to lose heart and fled to the mountain and caves.

Prophet Samuel had told Saul that he would come to Gilgal in 7 days to sacrifice to the Lord (1 Sam13:8) and Samuel did not come.  So Saul decided to act on his own initiative and perform a burnt offering to the Lord, disobeying God’s commandment (1 Sam 13:13-14).

Reasons for Saul’s disobedience:
It would be simple for all of us to simply put the blame on Saul for being impatient. But we can all agree that Saul was facing a very tough situation. The odds are all against him, and he must have been very stressed out… So Saul felt compelled, but made the burn offering, just as how he explained in (1 Sam 13:11-12)

However, from here we can understand that even if we are stressed out, it doesn’t give us the right to disobey God. The effect of the disobedience is that, his kingdom will not last forever, from what I can understand, this means that his house will not be king of Israel forever, and God intended to give the kingdom to someone who is after his heart (Namely the house of David).

Despite Saul’s failure to obey God in his first test, God is compassionate and is willing to give Saul a second chance, and a second test. From here we can see, although  a christian may fail sometimes in trials and disobey God, God will always be gracious and will put us in the different test. This is because the purpose of trials is not to stumble a christian, and but yet is Gods way of training us to see if our faith is genuine and can stand the test of time (Jas 1:2-3).

From his next test, we can see that God did take into consideration the point spoken by Saul

Sauls second test against Amalek
In the second test, God gave Saul a specific instruction (1 Sam 115:1-3) to utterly destroy Amelak because of the wicked things they have done against Israel when they first got out of Egypt. By attacking them in the rear and targeting the sick and the weak people who had fallen behind (This is Joshua’s first battle at Rephidim Ex 17:8-16, Deut 25:17-18) . In that battle God swore that he would punish Amalek for their wickedness, and wanted Saul to perform this duty for God.

This time in the battle, Saul won a serious victory (There is no more of the stress we see in his first test). However, Saul chose to disobey God once again by sparing King Agag of the Amalekites , as well as to keep back the best of the sheep and herds (1 Sam 15:9). Hence this time Saul has despised the command of God and choose to act on his own will.

When Samuel came, and asked Saul about the bleating of the Goats he hear, Saul defended himself and claimed that he wanted to keep the best of the sheep to be offered to God. (1 Sam 15:15-16).

Only in this test, God rebuked Saul deeply (1 Sam 15:17-19). God desired us to listen to him and obey him then to come before him with much offerings (1 Sam 15:22-23).

What can we learn about God’s trials here? Well, firstly, when it is necessary, God will always give us a chance to test our heart. However, once it can be certain that our hearts and bent to disobey God, we would grieve his spirit very deeply. Therefore, as Christian facing trials from God, we must often pray to God for strength to handle the trials, and not grieve his spirit often.

Over here we can see our God as a compassionate high priest, who can empathise with our weakness, and may retest us with a simpler test, just for us to understand what is going on in our hearts, just like what God told Samuel when he was looking at the sons of Jesse, that God is one who discern the heart of people. I believe if Saul repented on the spot, just like what David did when Prophet Nathan confronted him, God would have been merciful in his judgement, but we can see Saul defending himself and finding excuses for his disobedience, and his eagerness to get honour before the elders of Israel, which grieve God too much that he rejected him from being king (1 Sam 15:24-31).

Therefore, we should not take God’s grace and patience for granted and choose to disobey him time and time again, only remembering about Gods mercy but forgetting that God is also a just judge (Rom 6:1)

I will be sharing of Davids tests in my next entry