Read – 1 Samuel 18
Focus on verse 28-29
Tyrannical leaders are typically driving by fear to be the tyrants that they become. Human history is marred by far too many instances where this is the case. Leaders who are afraid of losing power and control, typically try to eliminate anything, or anyone who they perceive as a threat to that power and control. The result all too often is that the leader begins killing his own subjects, particularly if they are extremely gifted or popular as this is perceived as a possible threat.
In today’s reading the text frequently mentions the fact that Saul fears David as he becomes increasingly aware that the Spirit of God is with David, and that that same Spirit is no longer with Saul. What Saul refuses to admit is that he is the one who, by his refusal to submit to the Spirit of God, alienated himself for God by his rebellion.
When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days. (v. 28-29)
It began with a song the people had sung which attributed more victory to David than it did to Saul. A leader of true character would have exalted and rewarded David along with the people, but Saul chose the path of fear. He feared losing the kingdom to David, who at that point had no designs on taking it from him. From that day on Saul looked for an opportunity to kill David. He tried pinning him to a wall with his spear and that failed. He tried sending him out to face the Philistines in hopes that he would be killed, that totally backfired, as David just became an even more popular hero with each victory. Even his scheme to have one of his daughters marry David comes back on his head and does the reverse of what he hopes.
This is what happens a leader allows himself to be governed by fear instead of faith. Interestingly the text reveals the true source of this fear, and it comes down to a spiritual matter, a spiritual condition that Saul ultimately chose for himself. The text says;
“Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.” (v. 12)
The power of the Lord had shifted and Saul knew it, why he continued to try to fight it can only be attributed to the rebellious and independent spirit that caused him to lose the kingdom years earlier when he defied the Lord’s order to utterly destroy the Amalekites.
The difference between Saul and David is not that Saul was more sinful or that David was more righteous. The difference was Saul had a proud and rebellious heart that attempted to deny his sin, while David was willing to repent and turn from his sin when the Lord confronted him with it.
When we refuse to repent we contract a fatal spiritual condition that if it is not dealt with has eternal consequences.