Was Saul unjustly treated ?

The Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlemite, for I have provided myself a king among his sons' (1 Sam 16: 1).

Saul is rejected as king for taking spoil from the Amelekites to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord (1 Sam 15).

But David is forgiven for murdering Uriah the Hittite and committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11-12).

Was Saul unfairly treated?

Comments

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I don't think that's what happened. I think Saul and his army intended to keep the animals as plunder. I think the statement, 'Oh, but we were going to offer them as a sacrifice', was an excuse concocted on the spur of the moment in his embarrassment when Samuel had caught him out.
  • I agree with Enoch. Also, Saul's disobedience was one in a long line, and it was disobedience to a specific instruction. He failed to do the one thing he was specifically instructed to do.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Does the whole story of Saul and David really describe a dynastic coup which culminates in the 'House of Thrones' slaughter of the seven sons of Saul? (2 Sam 21: 1-14).
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    History is always written by the victors.

    A counter - history written by Mephibosheth the grandson of Saul might say:

    David was a successful general who became ambitious for the throne (1 Sam 18: 7).

    He legitimised his claim by marriage to Michal, the daughter of Saul (1 Sam 18: 27).

    The prophet Samuel was a conspirator who deposed Saul by setting up David as a rival candidate (1 Sam 16).

    David was the leader of a group of rebel bandits who planned a murderous raid upon the household of Nabal until he was appeased by Nabal's astute wife Abigail (1 Sam 25).

    He committed treason by serving as the commander of the Philistines (1 Sam 27 - 29).

    He slaughtered the seven sons of Saul in order to secure the succession of his own dynasty (2 Sam 21: 1-14).

    He murdered Uriah the Hittite - one of his own mighty men (1 Chron 11: 40) - in order to cover up his adultery with his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11-12).

    No wonder David was disbarred from building the Temple as a 'man of blood' (1 Chron 28: 3).
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited February 22
    Is the story of David merely propaganda to justify how the house of David overthrew the house of Saul? The narrative reveals that David was recognised as a usurper by the people.

    David is nearly overthrown in a rebellion by Sheba who protests: 'We have no portion in David, neither have we any inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tents, Israel. So all the men of Israel deserted David' (2 Sam 20: 1-2).

    The same protest is taken up in the days of David's grandson Rehoboam and this time the rebellion succeeds and the kingdom is divided into Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12: 16 / 2 Chron 10: 16).
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited February 22
    Even a questionable character like David could be greatly used by God to unite the kingdom of Israel, plan the Temple and compose Psalm 51, the famous Psalm of Repentance which is still used in worship today.

    St Paul says of himself that he is 'a man of violence' and 'the chief of sinners' (1 Tim 1: 15), but he becomes the greatest missionary and likely author of 13 books of the NT. Most of the disciples including St Peter are portrayed as being fallible followers.

    Our human flaws are not an obstacle to God's grace or God's purposes. Because God likes to glorify Himself by using 'the things that are not' (1 Cor 1: 28).
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    My Bible study once read all the passages dealing with David, and then considered the question of why God liked him. The answer appeared to be that although he did many bad things, he was very quick to repent.

    Here is 1 Samuel 32-34
    David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from blood-guilt and from avenging myself by my own hand! For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal as much as one male.’

    Most people take quite a while to acknowledge their wrongdoing.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    God calls David 'a man after my own heart' (Sam 13: 13-14; 1 King's 14: 8). He was the king that God most loved and all subsequent kings are compared against him, whether good or bad.

    The good King Hezekiah 'did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done' (2 Chron 29: 2).

    The wicked king Jehoram 'did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy the House of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David' (2 Chron 21: 7).

    The faithfulness of the Lord to David is very moving to read. In the aftermath of the Bathsheba debacle He sends Nathan to tell him the parable of the rich man and the poor man and declare: Thou art the man! 'Did I not give you everything? I anointed you king over Israel... and if that had been too little I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord?' (2 Sam 12: 7-9).

    Why, O, why could you not just get it right?

    Enter Jesus.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Rublev wrote: »
    The Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlemite, for I have provided myself a king among his sons' (1 Sam 16: 1).

    Saul is rejected as king for taking spoil from the Amelekites to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord (1 Sam 15).

    But David is forgiven for murdering Uriah the Hittite and committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11-12).

    Was Saul unfairly treated?

    I don't think God withdrew favor from Saul because he took spoil from the Amelekites; I think it was because he made a sacrifice which he was not authorized to make, since he was not a Levite.

    Here is 1 Samuel 13:8-14
    He waited for seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul. So Saul said, ‘Bring the burnt-offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being.’ And he offered the burnt-offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt-offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him. Samuel said, ‘What have you done?’ Saul replied, ‘When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, I said, “Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favour of the Lord”; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt-offering.’ Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever, but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

    The bad things that David did were not violations of the laws of sacrifice.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited February 23
    I think this may well be the explanation of why Saul forfeited the kingship even though the crimes of David were actually much worse.

    When the Ark of the Covenant was being transported to Jerusalem, a Levite named Uzzah took hold of the Ark to steady it. God's anger burned against Uzzah and He struck him down and he died (2 Sam 6: 1-7; 1 Chron 13: 9-12).

    So crossing the sacred boundary was a serious matter in the eyes of God.


  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    For all his many failings, David greatly loved God and worshipped Him. He brought the Ark to Jerusalem, he wanted to build a temple and he composed numerous psalms including Psalm 23, the famous meditation on God.

    His son Solomon did not love God in the same way and in the end he turned away from the worship of God. When he is offered a gift by God he chooses wisdom - but because it is not combined with the love of God it turns sterile and becomes a source of frustration. In Ecclesiastes he writes that he has tried everything to find meaning in life but finally concludes that it is meaningless. Solomon would have done better to have requested the same loving heart for God that his father David had.

    In the OT the leaders who are raised through adversity are the ones who handle their responsibilities wisely: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Samuel, David, Daniel, Mordecai and Nehemiah.

    But the leaders who have power handed to them on a plate become corrupted by it because they have not developed mature and resilient characters including the sons of Samuel, Solomon and Rehoboam.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited March 9
    Moo wrote: »
    My Bible study once read all the passages dealing with David, and then considered the question of why God liked him. The answer appeared to be that although he did many bad things, he was very quick to repent.

    Here is 1 Samuel 32-34
    David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from blood-guilt and from avenging myself by my own hand! For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal as much as one male.’

    Most people take quite a while to acknowledge their wrongdoing.

    Agreed. "Thou art the man!".
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    The Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlemite, for I have provided myself a king among his sons' (1 Sam 16: 1).

    Saul is rejected as king for taking spoil from the Amelekites to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord (1 Sam 15).

    But David is forgiven for murdering Uriah the Hittite and committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11-12).

    Was Saul unfairly treated?

    Not quite . Saul’s principal task was to fight the Philistines, the coastal people who sought to conquer the territory of Israel in the 11th and 10th centuries B.C.E. Samuel ordered Saul to wait for him at Gilgal , so Samuel could offer a sacrifice before the war began (I Samuel 13:8-9). Saul waited seven days, but, watching the Israelites melt away day after day, he resolved to take matters into his own hands and offered the sacrifice himself. For this act of insubordination, Samuel says to Saul: “Your kingdom shall not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (13:14).

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    And David repented (and that's something he had a bit of experience at). Did Saul?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    I suspect that the anointing of the boy David is a fabrication designed to justify his illegitimate rebellion against Saul, and the need to condemn later rebellions against David as impiously directed against "the Lord's anointed" (see David sparing Saul's life in odd circumstances).
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    I suspect that the anointing of the boy David is a fabrication designed to justify his illegitimate rebellion against Saul, and the need to condemn later rebellions against David as impiously directed against "the Lord's anointed" (see David sparing Saul's life in odd circumstances).

    Doesn't happen now, does it?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Of course it doesn't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    Saul is rejected as king for taking spoil from the Amelekites to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord (1 Sam 15).

    There are theological overtones to this dispute which are mostly lost on modern readers. This is a debate between the priestly tradition (sacrifice) represented in this passage by Saul and the prophetic tradition (obedience to scripture) represented by Samuel. In other words it's not just a political dispute, but also a theological one.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Thanks, Croesus, for your latest contribution (above post), I, for one, found it very instructive.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    ......my only reservation is that the prophetic tradition is not about obedience to scripture but to the direct word of God spoken through the prophet.
  • kmannkmann Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    Does the whole story of Saul and David really describe a dynastic coup which culminates in the 'House of Thrones' slaughter of the seven sons of Saul? (2 Sam 21: 1-14).
    What do you think?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Once you start departing from what the text says it’s telling you then, unless you can show good reason for your departure, you just turn the text into a wax nose.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    I'm not sure what point you are making, BroJames. What construction would you place on the text referenced by Rublev? Are you arguing there is no dynastic struggle between the houses of Saul and David?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    edited June 3
    A dynastic struggle of some sort, maybe; but not a coup. Nor an illegitimate rebellion by David against Saul.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    1 Samuel 13:13-14 gives an explanation of why God turned away from Saul.
    Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever, but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.’

    The text does not mention a dynastic struggle.
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    Not much of a struggle with an omnipotent being on one side.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    Wanna bet?

    Or have you never seen a toddler having a hissy fit in spite of his father's attempts to carry him off to bed?

    He may not win, but the struggle is a real thing, and he has that much dignity.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    BroJames and Moo, I think you need to have a wider contextual approach and not take the biblical narrator at face value, because he is trying (a) to justify the rebellion of David against Saul and (b) de-legitimise the later rebellions against David. The problem, of course, is that David attempted to displace “the Lord’s anointed,” which the writer attempts to resolve by claiming that the Lord, through Samuel, revoked his anointing of Saul and passed it onto the boy David. Later, however, David refused to kill Saul on the grounds that he ought not to “slay the Lord’s anointed,” when a fortuitous opportunity arose. David’s forbearance is clearly at variance with God’s desertion of Saul and his own anointing, but is in line with the writer’s desire to de-legitimise later rebellions against David himself. The biblical narrative is much more coherent and convincing if the anointing of David as a boy is regarded as fictitious.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Why are you certain about the narrator's intentions? What's wrong with taking the text at face value/
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I would say the narrator works hard to show that David did not rebel against Saul. David is presented as being Saul’s successor, not his supplanter. It is only when Saul and Jonathan and Saul’s other two sons are all killed in battle against the Philistines that David takes the throne. His behaviour (even when other disaffected people gather with him) is notably in contrast with the later behaviour of Absalom.

    ISTM that this is clearly what the text is saying. What is the evidence for a rebellion by David against Saul?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Moo: Why are you certain about the narrator's intentions? What's wrong with taking the text at face value?
    I thoroughly agree that the rather terse manner of my remarks regarding the intentions of the narrator should have been couched more tentatively, because, however reasonably argued, they are a matter of contestable interpretation.

    Regarding the danger of taking the text at face value I feel more secure, particularly as to historical accuracy, where probable events are interwoven with myth and legend, and interpretation suffused with theological debate and dogma coupled with political bias. It is sometimes difficult, therefore, to decide whether an event is what we would understand to be an historical fact or fiction, of which the anointing of the boy David is an example. It is important, therefore, to try and identify the purpose(s) of the text and the variable nature of its content (history, myth, legend, theology, political propaganda), to come to some intelligible understanding of the document. That, however, is no simple task, and likely to promote little certainty.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I confess that I am struggling to understand what this sentence means:
    Kwesi wrote: »
    Regarding the danger of taking the text at face value I feel more secure, particularly as to historical accuracy, where probable events are interwoven with myth and legend, and interpretation suffused with theological debate and dogma coupled with political bias.
    Please can you unpack it a bit for me.

    You go on to say,
    Kwesi wrote: »
    It is sometimes difficult, therefore, to decide whether an event is what we would understand to be an historical fact or fiction, of which the anointing of the boy David is an example. It is important, therefore, to try and identify the purpose(s) of the text and the variable nature of its content (history, myth, legend, theology, political propaganda), to come to some intelligible understanding of the document.
    I think within the fairly limited sphere of the story of David (rather than, say, the hexateuch as a whole) the clear purpose of the text is to validate David’s kingship. That, however, gives us no clue as to whether it is ‘what we would understand to be an historical fact or fiction’. There are, furthermore, no clearly identified examples of ‘history, myth, legend, theology, political propaganda’ within the literature of Hebrew narrative which might offer literary or text-critical clues against which to judge this story.

    Of course it is possible to see why the story might have been invented if it wasn’t true, but the same extra-textual argument could also be used for the inclusion of the account if it was true.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    BroJames: I think within the fairly limited sphere of the story of David (rather than, say, the hexateuch as a whole) the clear purpose of the text is to validate David’s kingship.

    I thoroughly agree with you that the clear purpose of the text is to validate David's kingship, and that is the reason why I take a sceptical approach to its presentation of the dispute between David and Saul. What seems clear is that David was a popular and successful commander in Saul's army, that there was a falling out between the two, and that David displaced the House of Saul as the ruler of Israel. According to the writer the cause of the rift was the jealousy of Saul, and despite the need to defend himself against the vengeance of the king David refused to kill him when a couple of opportunity arose because he was the anointed, legitimate king. David was not engaged in rebellion, although at one stage he made an alliance with some Philistines, but in self-defence.

    The problem I have with this narrative and explanation is that a more simple account could be that at a time when rulers were required to lead their troops into battle Saul was less and less able to do so, and David saw his chance to take the top job through rebellion. Add to that the kingdom of Israel was in its early infancy, having been a theocracy, and the royal house hardly established at all. The legitimacy of the stronger, the legacy of the Judges, was continued in David and repeated by Absalom.

    To 'validate David's kingship,' however, it was felt necessary by the author of Samuel to legitimise his usurpation. Consequently, the anointing of the boy David by Samuel, which was linked to the Lord removing his anointing of Saul, and the implication that any actions of David against Saul were morally and religiously legitimate. The questions which arise are several: Why did Samuel not then announce the Lord's negating of Saul's anointing and mobilise support for David? Why the long gap between David's anointing and asserting his claim to the throne? Why did David regard Saul as "the Lord's anointed" for so long?

    Thus, although I accept your point that: " it is possible to see why the story might have been invented if it wasn’t true, but the same extra-textual argument could also be used for the inclusion of the account if it was true," I would argue that more simple explanations are generally to be preferred against those which are convoluted and raise more questions than they answer.











  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Here is an interesting Jewish Biblical Study about the Civil War between Saul and David. While it does note that I and II Samuel was written largely by pro-Davidic writers, there are certain threads that are pro-Saul.

    Now, if the Saul camp had won out, would there have been a similar adaptation?

    As they say, the victors write the history.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    @Kwesi, tbh I don’t find your more simple account to be actually more simple at all as a set of events. While it starts from some of the evidence in the narrative, it then departs from it for no adequate reason into pure speculation. It could have been the way you suggest, but there is no evidence to suggest that it was. Where’s the evidence for your scenario?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    BroJames, if you find my comments poorly argued I suggest you consult the excellent scholarly article referred to by Gramps49. I, for one, would certainly welcome your observations on its contents.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    Thank you, @Gramps49, a very interesting and persuasive article.
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    2 Samuel certainly directly reports a much more complicated reign/history and a much more divided Isrthan the simplified "what the bible says" narrative "Saul-David (Great King except Bathsheba)-Solomon".
    David's reign is filled with civil wars and a messed up family.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    @Kwesi, I’ve bookmarked the page, but not yet had tome to go more than skim read it.
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