1 Samuel 15, 34-16, 1
Something to read
Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
King James Version
Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul.
Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.
The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
As Saul is rejected by Yahweh, David is introduced, the man who will replace him as monarch. Although Saul is still technically king, the story is now clearly David's. Saul will now start a decline that will end in him taking his life.
The previous chapter has described a series of actions that could be constituted as weak leadership on Saul's part, culminating in his disobedience to obey God's command to destroy the Amalekites in battle.
We may find Saul's fate to be haunting, especially in the context of what seems in effect to be a 'holy war', with which we are likely to feel equally uncomfortable. The characters of both Yahweh and Samuel may seem to be both jealous and vindictive.
However, we could also read God's focus in the story as being firmly on the future of the people of Israel, and not on the future of Saul as political leader. Earlier chapters have warned that Israel's future is bound up in its leadership.
In situations of conflict today it is easy to take sides. Christian Aid's concern is always and only for lasting justice and for a sustainable and peaceful future for the people on the ground, and never for governments or political agendas.
David will also sin, and he too will suffer the consequences for his sin. But he will lead the people of Israel and his lineage will become a source of hope to the people. And it is the people and not their leaders to whom God has made his promise of faithfulness.
Something to do
Stable political leadership is necessary for just and peaceful societies. But a commitment to justice and peace may start very small. Spend some time considering a person or area of your life where you harbour resentment. Pray for reconciliation, for forgiveness and peace to enter this situation.
Something to pray
Loving God, forgive us when we have taken sides and turned people against each other, and grant us a vision of the world of justice for all.
Today's contributor is Kate Tuckett, Christian Aid's Church Resources Manager.