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Death of a King

Devotions

Although this Old Testament book gets its name from Samuel, one of its main characters, its primary focus is the contrast between Saul and David. Saul’s story unfolds like a great tragedy. His failure is foreshadowed at the outset, and all subsequent events move toward this sad conclusion. Today’s reading reveals the final chapter in Saul’s story. His life ended just as Samuel had predicted.

The Philistines dishonored Saul’s body in death, fastening it to the city wall of Beth Shan as a token of their victory (v. 10). The men of Jabesh Gilead recovered the king’s body in a daring night-time raid and buried the bones beneath a Tamarisk tree. Saul’s first victory as king had been to rescue the people of Jabesh Gilead from the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11:1–11). Saul’s greatest tragedy was his lack of faith. He did not listen to the Lord and often took matters into his own hands. In the final scene of this tragedy, Saul’s weak character is on full display. Critically wounded by the archers, Saul begged his shield-bearer to finish the job. When the shield-bearer refused, Saul fell on his own sword.

What was the difference between Saul and David? David was a bold warrior, but it was not boldness that was the secret to his success. Ultimately, the difference between these two kings was a matter of faith. As Israel’s next king, David would go on to greater success. He would also have his own share of spectacular failures. But faith always led David back to God’s grace and forgiveness. This is why the Lord considered David “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). David turned his ear to God and obeyed His commands. David was a man of faith.

>> We have learned many lessons from Samuel, David, and Saul. We have seen that courage is admirable, but faith is even more essential. And we are encouraged to turn our ear and our heart to God, honoring Him with every step of our life.

Pray with Us

In conclusion, ask the Lord to help us remember the lessons He has taught us about His call, His love, courage, and forgiveness. May we listen to God’s words to us with our hearts. Thank you for studying and praying with us!

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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