Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

“Saul's Fickle Feelings”

Categories: Congregational Bible Reading

BIBLE READING: 1 Samuel 18-19

David was a loyal servant to Saul. For this reason, Saul loved David (1 Samuel 16.21), trusted him (1 Samuel 17.37b), and respected him (1 Samuel 17.55 - 18.2, 5) from the moment he came into his service. But following David’s defeat of Goliath, Saul’s attitude changed. The people praised David as a hero, positioning him as a threat (1 Samuel 18.8). “Saul eyed David from that day on” (1 Samuel 18.9).

The text emphasizes Saul’s fear of David. His behavior becomes difficult to understand as he vacillates between rational thought and erratic rage (for example, 1 Samuel 19.6-10). Saul’s anxiety is baseless and purely self-imposed. In fact, we will learn in later chapters that David remained utterly loyal to Saul out of honor for him as God’s anointed (1 Samuel 26.9-11). And yet Saul allowed himself to be tormented by fear and distrust of David. This results from a key detail given in 1 Samuel 16.14: “the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.”

The departure of God Spirit was not an unjustified manipulation on God’s part. It was the result of Saul’s willful decision to disobey God, not just once but on multiple occasions (1 Samuel 13.13; 15.10, 26). Because of this they were very definite consequences that plagued Saul’s life, namely fear, anxiety, and irrational behavior.

Many people experience these things today and I suspect they have a common culprit. They have chosen to go their own way instead of letting God lead completely. For some it is ignorance, for others, selfish pride. Either way it illustrates the true proverb, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14.12; 16.25).

What happens when we don’t obey God? Simply put, his Spirit doesn’t lead us. Instead, we open the door for the enemy to manipulate our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We are “like waves of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1.6) and like chaff that the wind blows (Psalm 1.4). When we experience fickle emotions much of it has to do with the spirit we are allowing to lead us. We must be diligent to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4.1) by listening and submitting to God’s direction through his word.

The contrast between Saul & David highlights the choices we have in our faith. This story offers tangible outcomes for both paths.  Saul’s choice to partially obey God resulted in a life of fear and frustration, ultimately leading him away from God. On the other hand, David enjoyed success because “the LORD was with him” (1 Samuel 18.14) as David trusted and constantly sought God’s counsel (see 1 Samuel 22.3; 23.2, 4; 30.8). If we will overcome the enemy in our walk of faith, we must choose to keep in step with the Spirit through deliberate decisions of obedience. (Galatians 5.16-25). Are you letting God’s Spirit lead or are you choosing you own way?

“… the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do… if we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5.17, 25)