A Lesson In Disaster

Bible Book: 1 Samuel 
Subject: Sin, The Danger; Disobedience; Confession, Lack of; Pride; Faithfulness

Saul - A Lesson In Disaster

Dr. J. Mike Minnix

1 Samuel 9-31

Tonight we are going to take a sweeping look at 1 Samuel 9 through chapter 31. Needless to say, we are not going to read all this scripture or look at much of it in great detail. I want us to fly over this period in biblical history as if in a helicopter. Why? Sometimes we need to take a long look or a wide-ranging view of spiritual truth. I will be depending on the fact that you have some knowledge of King Saul and King David, and I’ll trust that if you don’t, God will help you catch the full sense of the divine truth that is so important in these chapters and persons.

We draw our theme or title from the text, 1 Samuel 26:21 (see also 1 Samuel 13:13). We will see tonight how to avoid a disaster in our lives by looking at Saul, the man who threw away a kindgom.

Let us look at the story of Saul, the first King of Israel, and see the sad but important truth we are taught through his mistakes.

First, look with me at …

I. Saul’s Rise Through Grace

God had blessed Saul in several ways and was about to bless him with a prize beyond his wildest dreams. Note several things that led to the rise of Saul to the position as the first King of Israel.

A. Saul's Appearance

Chapter 9, verse 2, tells us that Saul was impressive and taller than any of the others. I guess we could say that he was tall, dark and handsome! God just blesses some men with that, and then some of us men were behind the door when the Lord handed out the handsome part. The Lord said “looks” but some of us thought he said “school books,” so we hid behind the door! Seriously, however, this was a great help to Saul. I read somewhere recently that most of the presidents of the United States have been men that were notably taller than the average man in their generation.

Let’s note something important about Saul’s good looks. Note that this was a gift of grace. Saul did not get his looks or height by his own effort but was blessed by God to have an appearance that was useful to God’s cause. It has been said that good looks come from have the right parents – sure, but we don’t get to choose our parents. That is a divine decision. So, our gifts are a blessing of divine grace.

I want us to be clear on the fact that the opportunities that came Saul’s way were by virtue of the grace of God and not of his own doing. Pride is a dangerous instrument of Satan, and we must be careful not to allow pride to take root at any place in our lives as believers. Beware of pride, for pride goes before the fall!

Notice next …

B. Saul’s Appointment

Saul’s father sent him to look for some donkeys that had stayed away and were lost. For three days Saul searched for the donkeys and he was becoming worried that his father might cease to worry about the donkeys and begin worrying about him, so Saul proposed to those with him return. Saul went alone to make one last effort to find the donkeys. Finally, Saul sought the Prophet Samuel, to see if he might be able to help them find the donkeys that has strayed away.

Now, please note something at this point that only God can do. God had already spoken to Samuel and told him that he was going to encounter a Benjamite who he was to anoint as the first King of Israel. Saul coming to Samuel was no accident – it was part of God’s divine plan. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to make known, and He certainly did so in this case.

Saul was searching long and hard for donkeys, but God had him out there on this journey so that he, Saul, might become a king. Don’t ever take for granted the little things that are part of your labor and responsibility. God knows where you are and He knows the plans He has for you. The greatest workers are often discovered in the smallest places. Moses was called from the backside of a desert. The mother who packed her little boy a lunch of fishes and loaves had no idea that the Savior of the Lord would make use of that lunch to feed five-thousand people. Don’t despise the little things in your life.

In essence, we can say that Saul's disappointment in the lost donkeys was God's appointment for Saul to be discovered as the man who would become king. We don’t usually think of searching for lost donkeys as the path to a throne and a kingdom, but we God one never knows what may be around the corner! This is often true for us in life. God had an appointment for Saul to meet Samuel. This was an act of grace and not due to anything that Saul had done in his own wisdom or strength.

C. Saul's Anointing

In 1 Samuel 10:1 we find Samuel anointing Saul to be king over Israel. This anointing was due to the Word of the Lord. See this for yourself in 1 Samuel 9:16, “6 Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”

God's grace had led Saul to a place of tremendous blessing. That is how God always works. But, be assured of this, when God blesses us He always has a task for us to accomplish through those blessings. We are not blessed just to be blessed. We are granted special opportunities so that we might be of use to our God.

Saul is anointed, and then we see his …

D. Saul's Affirmation

In 1 Samuel 11:14 we find Saul affirmed as king of Israel. There was a day of great celebration by the people and this was, of course, the grandest day in the life of Saul. What a day of happiness it must have been for Saul and for all the people to rejoice in a God-given King for Israel.

Thus, we have seen that Saul rose to prominence due to the grace of God. Oh, that we might recognize the grace of God when we find ourselves in the position of blessing. Saul seemed humble enough in the beginning and thankful enough on the surface, but there is a deep problem in this man which is about to surface. Someone has said that whatever is in the well will come up in the bucket - well, something unacceptable is about to be pulled up out of the well of Saul's life.

Now we examine …

II. Saul's Rebellion Before God

We note right away that Saul has a problem completely obeying God. He begins to sin by way of disobedience. We can trace his trail of disobedience through three steps. One appears in chapter 13, another in chapter 14 and the worst in chapter 15.

A. Disobedience #1

1 Samuel 13:9f

In 1 Samuel 10:8 we read that Samuel told Saul to keep his anointing a secret until a special time to come. Samuel promised that after one week he would make a sacrifice and the kingship of Saul would be totally official. We see in our text that Saul did not wait, but got ahead of God.

Samuel confronted Saul with this disobedience and told Saul that he had acted foolishly. This act by Saul is the sign of a deep weakness in the man. Saul was a person who was only willing to obey God in part and not in the whole. Saul lacked the faith and obedience to be patient and trust God in every detail.

Saul depended upon his own wisdom and that of others rather than the wisdom God. But that is not the worst of Saul's sins. The worst is that he will not take the responsibility for his actions. He wants to blame someone else. He blamed his men, he blamed Samuel and blamed his soldiers.

Once Saul is faced with the fact that he has sinned against God, what does he do? The right thing is to confess and ask for God’s forgiveness. But, Saul takes three steps in the wrong direction is dealing with his disobedience.

1. He tries to DENY his sin
2. He tries to DEFLECT his sin
3. He tries to DRESS-UP his sin

Be assured of this, God sees through all our attempts at denying, deflecting or dressing up our sins. The Lord desires truth in our hearts. If we fail, we must be honest and confess it to Him. 1 John 1:9 states that God is just and if we confess our sins He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of ALL unrighteousness. The key there is the word, Confess!” To confess means to call our sin what God calls it. Our sin is not a mistake, a mishap, or mess up. Our sin is rebellion against God and we must call it that. When we are willing to come out and call our sin what God calls it, God is willing, through the blood of His Son, to forgive our sins and to cleanse us completely.

Think about this for a moment. Saul did not commit a sin as dark and horrible as that of his successor David, yet Saul was more greatly judged. Why? David confessed his sin and did so publicly. Saul tried to cover his sin. If we uncover our sin to God, He will cover it with His grace. If we try to cover our sin, God will uncover it and judge it. That choice is up to us and the difference can be life or death.

B. Disobedience #2

We find the record of the second great disobedience of Saul recorded in 1 Samuel 14:36-37. Here we note that Saul did not inquire of God but made his own plans. Only after another suggested it did Saul even consider to inquiring of the Lord for direction. Then when he did not get an answer, Saul blamed someone else for the problem. This is Saul's duel problem: Partial Obedience and Placing the Blame on Someone Else.

C. Disobedience #3

Look at 1 Samuel 15:10ff

Here we see Saul failing to carry out the command of God to totally defeat and destroy the Amalekites. When Samuel confronts Saul about the fact that he has not followed the Lord’s instructions, Saul pretends that it is not a big issue. In Saul’s mind, all is well. Samuel has been with God and knows better. Samuel has spent a sleepless night over this matter, for he knows how serious it is for us to reject the will of God and to decide that we know better than God what ought to be done.

As Saul tries to bluff his way out of his disobedience, the lowing of the cattle he was supposed to destroy and the bleating of the sheep he was told to kill, tell Samuel that Saul is a liar. Saul is denying a sin while the evidence is screaming out that he is guilty. My dear people, be assured that your sins will find you out! God can raise up evidence against you that you think is hidden forever.

At this point, Saul is on his way to destruction. We see lastly …

III. Saul's Ruin At Gilboa

During the passage of these years, God raises up a young lad who will be the next King of Israel and his name is David. Young David killed the giant Goliath in front of King Saul and the entire army of Israel. He immediately became a hero to God’s people. The Israelites praise David and praise God for him joyfully.

Remember that Saul is a man of pride and arrogance, thus he grows very jealous and angry over the popularity of David. In fact, Saul plans to kill David and makes several attempts to do so. David, on the other hand, has opportunities to kill Saul, but David loves God too much to touch the man that God made king. In other words, David is protecting Saul, because God made him king, even though Saul is trying in every way to kill David. What a contrast in personalities and loyalties.

As Saul seeks again and again to kill David, it appears that he is losing his mind. He is become unsound in heart and mind. Listen, my friend, to rebel against God is to reap a harvest of insanity into your life.

At last, we find the poor man Saul resorting to asking for help from a witch at Endor. He has sunk to the very bottom, all by his own doing. In fact, he will die shortly thereafter at his own hand. The handsome, powerful, God-anointed King of Israel destroyed himself. His destruction did not come when he used his own sword to take his life, but when he started down a road or pride, denial of sin, blaming others for his mistakes and trying to destroy David, upon whom the hand of God was placed.

After the death of Saul, David is made king. Saul’s opportunity for great usefulness was lost simply because he was unwilling to obey and admit his sins once they were committed.


I shared this message tonight so that we might be reminded of three great divine lessons.

1. Recognize the grace of God in your blessings.

Give God glory for the blessings you possess. Honor Him in all that you are and all that you have. Be careful of pride and arrogance, which are incredibly dangerous in the life of a believer.

2. Resolve to keep the whole of God commands, not just part of it but all of it.

Don’t make excuses for the little sins in your life. Own up to them. Correct them. A small scratch on your hand can lead to a deadly infection in your body. Sin is like that as well. Every great sin began with a single step in the wrong direction.

3. Repent of your sins and do not pass the blame to others.

It is impossible to know how many Christians have diminished or destroyed their potential through pride, partial obedience or through passing off blame for sin onto something or someone else. You will never rise to you potential or know God’s richest blessings in your life unless you can overcome these three weaknesses.

It all begins by recognizing God’s grace. Everyone has sinned and God, through His loving grace, offers us salvation. Jesus died in our place at Calvary and His sacrifice paid the debt we owe to God. Have you ever turned to God through Christ to be forgiven and saved? You can right now.

Then, for those of us who are redeemed, let us this moment admit our need of God. Be honest in confession and grateful for every blessing.