Story Three

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 5
SAUL'S GREAT SIN AND HIS GREAT LOSS
AFTER the great victory over the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes Sa̤ul led his men against the enemies of Ĭś̝ ra-el on every side of the land. He drove back the Mṓ ab-ītes to their country east of the Dead Sea, and the Ăḿ mon-ītes to the desert regions across the Jôŕ dan. He fought the Ḗ dom-ītes on the south and the kings of Zṓ bah in the far north. For a time the land of Ĭs̝ ra-el was free from its oppressors.
On the south of the land, in the desert where the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes had journeyed for forty years, were living the wild and wandering Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes, a people who had sought to harm the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes soon after they came out of Ḗ ġy̆pt, and had killed many of their people when they were helpless on their journey. For this God had said that Ĭś̝ ra-el should have war against the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes until they were destroyed.
The time had now come for God's word against the Ăḿ a-lĕk ītes to be fulfilled, and Săḿ u-el said to Sa̤ul, "Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, go down and make war against the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes, and destroy them utterly.”
Then Sa̤ul called out the men of war in all the tribes, and they marched southward into the desert where many years before their fathers had lived for forty years. There Sa̤ul made war on the Ăḿ́ a-lĕk-ītes, and took their city and destroyed it. But he did not do what God had commanded him. He brought Ā́ găg, the king of the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes, and many of his people as prisoners, and a great train of their sheep and oxen, intending to keep them.
Then the word of the Lord came to Săḿ u-el, saying, "It would have been better never to have chosen Sa̤ul as king, for he does not obey my commands.”
All that night Săḿ u-el prayed to the Lord, and the next day he went to meet Sa̤ul. When Sa̤ul saw him, he said, "May the blessing of the Lord be upon you. I have done what the Lord commanded me to do.”
Then said Săḿ u-el, "If you have obeyed God's command and destroyed all the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes and all that they possessed, what is the meaning of this bleating of the sheep and the bellowing of the oxen which I hear?”
"They have brought them from the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes," answered Saul, "for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to offer in sacrifice to the Lord your God. All the rest we have utterly destroyed." This he said to excuse his wrongdoing and to put the blame for his disobedience to God's command on the people. Then Săḿ u-el said, "I will tell you what God said to me last night. When you were humble in your own sight, God chose you to be king over Ĭś̝ ra-el. He sent you on a long journey to the southward into the desert and said to you, 'Go and utterly destroy the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes and leave nothing of them.' Why did you not obey God's word but did seize their oxen and sheep and save many of their people alive, disobeying God's voice?”
And Sa̤ul said, "I have done as God commanded, and have destroyed the Ăḿ a-lĕk-ītes. But the people took some things that should have been destroyed, to offer in sacrifice to the Lord.”
And Săḿ u-el said, "Is the Lord as well pleased with offerings as he is with obeying his words? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen to God's word is more precious than to place offerings on his altar. To disobey God's word is as evil as to worship idols. You have refused to obey the voice of the Lord, and the Lord will take away your kingdom from you.”
Sa̤ul saw now how great was the harm that he had done, and he said, "I have sinned in not obeying God's word; but I was afraid of the people, and yielded to them. Now forgive my sin. Come with me, and I will worship the Lord.”
"No," said Săḿ u-el, "I will not go with you, for God will refuse you as king.”
As Săḿ u-el turned away, Sa̤ul took hold of his garment, and it tore in his hand. And Săḿ u-el said, "Even so has God torn the kingdom away from you; and he will give it to a man that is better than you are. And God is not like a man, to say one thing and do another. What God has said shall surely come to pass.”
Sa̤ul begged Săḿ u-el so hard not to leave him, but to give him honor in presence of the people, that Săḿ u-el went with Sa̤ul and Sa̤ul worshipped the Lord with Săḿ u-el.
After this Săḿ u-el went to his house at Rā́ mah, and he never again met Sa̤ul as long as he lived; but he mourned and wept for Sa̤ul, because he had disobeyed the Lord, and the Lord had rejected him as king.
PART THIRD—FROM SAUL TO SOLOMON.
Lesson 23. Saul as King.
(Tell Stories 1, 2 and 3 in Part Third.)
1. How did Saul begin his rule as king of Israel? He began by doing brave deeds.
2. What good things did Saul do soon after he became king? He drove away the enemies of Israel.
3. Who helped Saul in his wars? His brave son Jonathan.
4. Over what enemies did Jonathan win a great victory? Over the
5. Who spoke to Saul the word of the Lord? Samuel, the prophet.
6. What is a prophet? A man who speaks God's word.
7. What did Saul do that was wrong? He disobeyed God's words.
8. What did Samuel say to Saul? "Obeying God is better than offerings.”
9.What did Samuel say that the Lord would do to Saul? That he would take the kingdom from him.
10. How did Samuel feel when he saw that Saul would not obey the Lord? He wept for Saul.