I Samuel 13, If I Were Saul. . .I Would Have Said
The purpose of this essay is to suggest a screed which I would have uttered, if I were Saul, and Samuel had said to me, as he says to Saul in 13:14, “Your kingdom shall not stand, and the Lord will seek for himself a man after his own heart, and the Lord will command him to be ruler over his people, because you have not guarded what the Lord commanded you.”
Saul’s Response—In My Mind
If I were Saul and Samuel had just said these things, I would have responded as follows:
“Samuel, you are absolutely nuts to say that and, you not only are crazy for saying it, but it is the worst possible time for you to say it. Here we are, in the middle of a dire emergency, you are the purported man of God, you show up late to the party, and then you have the balls to excoriate ME for acting out of line. In fact, I waited for you until the time you had set for your arrival, but you dilly-dallied around when we were in the most pressing need, and then when you arrived you didn’t try to encourage the troops or do anything that would have aided the war effort but you just dumped on me saying that I have been rejected.
What?? If this isn’t, in the first instance, an indication of your own sense of inadequacy, I don’t know what is. You never liked the monarchy to begin with and even when God had you set it up and anoint me, you were harboring your doubts. You said you wanted to renew the kingship after that wonderful victory over the Ammonites, but what you did instead was to make it all about YOU. You are also trying to cover up the guilt you feel for your sons’ atrocious behavior that led to the people’s demand for the kingship in the first place. If you had sons that had any degree of moral fiber (and I wonder where they might have learned that?) they would not have taken bribes from the people. There is a statement said by many that the money or genes run out in three generations from an illustrious person—in your case it didn’t even take the next generation before they blew it.
And, you have the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to accuse ME of causing the problem. Here we are, in need, waiting patiently for you when my people are becoming restive, and you are nowhere to be seen. It is the simplest lesson taught to the youngest children that if they have an important meeting that they should probably not try to cut corners on making the meeting. Plan to be there a few minutes ahead of time. Plan to arrive very early. You easily could have done so. What would have been more urgent than showing up for a battle of your beloved people? But you are too small a man, too small a prophet, still nursing your hurt because of the horrid actions of your sons, to do anything for the good of the country.
And then, as I said, you have the nerve to tell me that God is replacing me. I don’t know who to be more mad at—you or God. If indeed that is the word from on high, I would have to say that that is the most unfair, injudicious decision I have ever heard God make. Reject me? I have done nothing but do things RIGHT! And you reject me? What is the choice of God? A flimsy, weak, filmy choice that has no substance to it? Is God so weak, so prevaricating, so indecisive that He can at one moment with great solemnity choose me as his vessel to deliver Israel and then, FOR NO REASON or worse, FOR A FALSE REASON say that I am rejected?
This is unworthy of God. It is not as if I spent my youth praying for or planning to be king. I was minding my own business watching my flocks or, in this instance, searching after the lost asses of my father, and Samuel approached me and then anointed me. I was endued with prophetic gifts, I was told that I would become a new man; I was further told that whatever I put my hand to, I should eagerly do it. That is, the dumbest person, the densest individual who had had that experience would have immediately believed that something special had happened to him, something so powerful and irreversible even, that if he at least even tried to be faithful to that calling, then God would richly bless him and his reign would continue.
And, I not only did the steps that Samuel enjoined me to perform in I Sam. 10, but I did have the Spirit jump on me. I was transformed into a new man. I was empowered, and I discovered gifts I never knew I had as I called the people of Israel to fight against Ammon. It was the most glorious experience of my life when I was able to rally the troops and rise to the occasion to fight the Ammonites. We won! We won in the strength of the Lord.
Then, in the strength of victory, you, Samuel started complaining. You said how tough this is, that not only we had to be faithful but super-faithful. You were injecting doubts and your own insecurities at the moment of biggest victory. If you are a prophet of God, I frankly don't want to have anything to do with you. You are using the excuse of your sons’ egregious behavior to strike out against me, and I have been faithful and true and able in the conquest.
And, so, Samuel ought to be rejected, not me. And, if this terrible little scheme is something that you, God, want to pursue, then screw you, too! You chose me. You equipped me. You changed me. You charged me. And I have been true to that charge to the best of my ability. I did not violate an agreement with Samuel. He cut corners and now he is trying to blame me for his own inadequacy. But, even worse, he has told me that you are implicated in this, and that this is your decision.
If you go through with this, God, by replacing me and casting me down, I know I will not be able to bear it. I have given my life in your service ever since this choice was made BY YOU. If you are to depose me, know that you are not doing it for a legitimate or fair reason. I will not be able to take it, and I think I will simply lose my mind. And, if I do, the blame for this will be on you. Even if the sacred book blames me, I predict there will be someone, 3000 years hence, who will defend my good name. Because it is good, and I have done nothing to deserve Samuel’s words. . .