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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saul - bad choices

The story of Saul, in the Bible, is about as sad a tale as has ever been told. Why do I say this?

God chose Saul to be king. See here and here.

Saul was a humble person. He told Samuel that he wasn't worthy of the office. At the convocation where Saul knew that he was going to be named as king, instead of getting a new robe and hiring a band, Saul hid himself away from the people. When he was named king publicly by Samuel, and acclaimed by the people, there is no record that he started out to build himself a palace, or hire bodyguards. Instead, he apparently went home to the family farm and went back to work.

Saul had some sort of conversion-like experience, and prophesied.

But Saul made some terrible choices.

The first one recorded is when he took upon himself to offer a sacrifice to God, rather than waiting for Samuel to do it.

Another bad choice was when he was told to lead the Israelites against the Amalekites, and to destroy their entire population, and their animals. Saul didn't kill the Amalekite king, nor did he and his soldiers kill all of the animals. He told Samuel that the animals were kept so that they could be offered as sacrifices.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king.(ASV)

In the end, Saul was defeated in battle, and tried to commit suicide. (The Bible is not clear as to whether he succeeded, or whether someone else finished him off.)
A sad story. No wonder that there are a lot more boys named David than Saul.

Thanks for reading.


Pete DeSanto said...

"Another bad choice was when he was told to lead the Israelites against the Amalekites, and to destroy their entire population, and their animals. Saul didn't kill the Amalekite king, nor did he and his soldiers kill all of the animals."

This is a particularly disturbing aspect of your god Martin. Daring to stay your hand when commanded to commit genocide is an affront to god? And people worship this beast?

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete.

Yes, we do. God hates sin, but, as shown by Christ, loves sinners.

Pete DeSanto said...

Yes, I know the mantra. I'm looking for critical analysis of genocide as a righteous act commanded by the being you and others worship. Is it right? Is it moral? If others claim that their god is commanding genocide right now, would it then be moral?

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete.

I can't give you such an analysis.

I would say that, as far as I know, under the New Testament, there have been few, if any, claims that God has commanded genocide. War, yes, but I don't think God really ordered a lot of such wars.

I believe that most Christians would be skeptical of any claim that God had commanded a genocide.

Pete DeSanto said...

What do you call his commanded destruction of the Amalekites if not genocide? The fact that he has not commanded such a thing in a long time does not make him any less terrible a figure for doing so then.

There seems to be this trend of excusing atrocities commanded by god in the Old Testament stories as necessary since Christ had not yet come. I find this exceedingly contemptible from any ethical or moral perspective that values life and human rights.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete.

I should have said that most Christians would be skeptical of the claim that God had commanded a genocide after Christ's appearance. That's what I meant to say, but I didn't. Sorry.

Well, I can't stop you from finding God's actions contemptible. My view is that it isn't up to me to judge God, especially after considering what He has done for me (and the entire human species).

green leaf said...


I've been trying to understand man's choice in the eye's of God. Do man really have choices ? Romans 9:11 For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. Romans 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
So, God hated Esau before Esau made any choices. In other words, it sounds like Esau sold his birth right and married to a girl against his parent's will were all in the plan...
It seems that David become the king to replace Saul was also predestined.
Well, whenever I think about this, I get discouraged. After all, He is the creator and we are the creation. What else can we say ?

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, green leaf.

Predestination is a sticky topic, and there are disagreements between Christians on the matter, for sure. The Bible does teach it. It also (in my view, and I am by no means alone) teach free choice. John 3:16, for one, implies that there is free choice. So does Peter's sermon on the mount. So does all of the other evangelism in the book of Acts.

God is outside of time. He knows what I will do, when I am confronted by a choice. But I don't. I have a choice, and it's a real one, but God knows the results in advance, therefore I am predestined to do X when faced with choice Y. That's my view. God knows.

See also the Wikipedia article on Predestination, for more views.