1 Samuel 15:1-9 – King Saul: Was He The Donald Trump of Ancient Israel?

Posted: January 24, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 15:1-9
Saul Destroys the Amalekites

In this passage, we see Saul execute the will of God. Saul is the immoral, self-centered king that God has already said would lose his throne because he continually failed to honor and obey God. He is kind of the ancient equivalent of Donald Trump.

Before I start with my Trump illustration. Don’t mistake me for one of the mass of liberal Trump haters out there and also don’t confuse me with the right wing that defends Trump no matter what idiotic thing he does or says. The liberal Trump haters out there don’t like the way Trump breathes. No matter what he does they don’t like it. He could save a baby from a burning building and they would find some way to criticize the way he did it. Conversely, there are conservatives out there that no matter what stupid thing Trump tweets or says that is offensive even to the most reasonable man who will defend him as if what he said was some golden nugget of truth. Conservatives are so fearful of a Democratic sweep in the coming two election cycles (the off-year congressional elections in November 2018 and the next presidential election in November 2020) that they will defend Trump’s self-centered, unbridled egotism to the death.

I am not in either of these camps. I do not hate Trump at all. I do think with him being a Republican and a former businessman that there is more focus on making the US a business friendly nation once again (and the economy is percolating along rather nicely right now). However, I am of the belief that Trump is just an egotistical bastard who wanted to win the election to see if he could do it and win it. He treats the job as if he is still president of a private company who can say and do whatever he wants. He fails to see the position that he holds is quite different from anything he has ever done. He also seems to have no real sense of how to get things done and he burns bridges at every turn just because he thinks whatever he says is gold and he has surrounded himself with yes men rather than with people who will tell him the truth about his actions. He irks me too because he claims to be a Christian man but that is only to gain advantage with the majority of Americans who claim to be the same. He would throw off Christianity in a minute if it was not to his advantage to say that he was a Christian. As Galatians tells us, there are fruits of the spirit of person who is a Christian and Donald Trump does not display any of those qualities.

When I read about Saul in the Bible these days, I think of him as the ancient equivalent of Donald Trump. Saul was one who did what his heart desired and damn be the fallout from my self-centered, self-promoting, self-preserving results. He would feign publicly his faith in God so as to demonstrate to the priests and the people that he was a godly king. However, inside the man, Saul was no believer in God. He was all about himself. He was a self-absorbed, paranoid egotist. Saul was Saul’s favorite person. He was all about preserving his position. He was all about making the name of Saul great. He was, in effect, the ancient equivalent of Donald Trump.

That gets you to thinking…so why did God allow Saul to have great military victories and allow him to solidify Israel behind the throne of Israel. It begs you to ask the same question, why did God allow Donald Trump to become President. Neither of these men were or are the right man for the job. President Trump became president because he was a name-caller like a schoolyard bully and people felt like he was saying the things that they were afraid to say. He became president because he vocalized all that was wrong with the country but he offered no concrete plans of how to fix it but the people loved that he was complaining about the things they complained about. He became president because the average joe was so afraid of a Clinton presidency. But why, why did it have to be Trump? What purpose does God have in a Trump presidency? What purpose did he have in a Saul kingship? That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage? What was God’s purpose in Saul as king? What did God have Saul wipe out the Amalekites? Likewise, in our modern times, what is the purpose in God’s plan of having an egomaniacal man like Donald Trump in the White House at this critical time in our country’s history? The questions abound. Let us now read this passage, 1 Samuel `5:1-9:

Chapter 15
1 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy[a] the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

4 So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 men from Judah. 5 Then Saul and his army went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Saul sent this warning to the Kenites: “Move away from where the Amalekites live, or you will die with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites packed up and left.

7 Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. 8 He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. 9 Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.

In this passage, we again must ask a question. This time it is, “Why did God command such utter destruction?” Well, I think the answer lies in who the Amalekites were. They were a godless, pagan band of terrorists. Their whole purpose in life was plundering other nations and people groups and carrying off their wealth. They were really not productive in any way of their own. They were a parasitic people. They sucked off the hard work of others. They did not think anything about the fact that people had worked hard for the goods and peaceful lives that they had built. They just were marauding thieves who had no morality or sense of respect for the work and toil of others. They just felt they were entitled to sweep in and steal and kill and kidnap and destroy.

They, in fact, were the first to attack the Israelites as the entered the Promised Land, and they continued to raid Israelite settlements at every opportunity after that time. God knew the Israelites would never live peacefully in the Promised Land as long as the Amalekites existed. He also knew that their corrupt lifestyle and idolatrous religious practices threatened Israel’s relationship with Him. The only way to protect the Israelites’ bodies and souls was to utterly destroy this warlike, idolatrous, immoral, unproductive band of marauders and all their possessions, including their idols.

I can understand that in the grand plan of things that God allowed the Amalekites to be destroyed. We have already seen in Israel’s history so far in the book of Judges and prior that the Israelites were so easily taken in by the pagan practices of the cultures around them. God wanted his people to be set apart as different, as a holy nation, from which the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, would come. To keep them from becoming just like everybody else, the cleansing of evil influences had to be done to keep the nation holy. Just as we often have to remove ourselves from ungodly influences when we become Christ followers, I can understand the need to get rid of the influence of this immoral, ungodly, evil people, the Amalekites.

The thing that plagues me is why give Saul all this success if he was a godless, self-centered man himself. Like I said, he was the Donald Trump of his age. It was all about Saul and what He wanted. What purpose did God have in letting him be king and then allowing him to be successful through his victories? What was the purpose?

I had to rely on an article to get an answer. I read “Understanding God in Troubled Times: God’s Use of the Ungodly” by Bob Burrage at http://www.genevaninstitute.org/articles/studies-in-habakkuk/gods-use-of-the-ungodly/. Burrage’s article is pretty good. He says that material success of the ungodly is not a reliable measure of their true success. When we don’t see the ungodly punished immediately, or when they seem to be successful in their evil ways, we should not assume that God is beaten or is pleased to turn His head.

God will surely judge all rebellion, secret and open. We should never presume to say to an unbeliever, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” We can’t know that. God will bring ultimate and final judgment upon all ungodliness. He may for a time use the ungodly to bring deserved chastising upon the hypocrites among His own people, and to show his uncompromising wrath upon those left to what we all deserve aside from the work of his grace.

We are called to be among his faithful people. He sent His son to pay a most costly price for the sin of His people, for those who trust in Him. Will we show forth God’s glory in our obedience and in our receiving of His covenant blessing? or will we in our rebellion demonstrate the just curse of His covenant warnings?

Those who look to themselves, will eventually and always reap their just punishment. Those who turn in humble trust to the Lord, who rest in His work of redemption, who seek to walk in his ways, and who turn in humble repentance when they fail, will receive His righteousness, and blessing forever. This is the grace of God as revealed in His merciful covenant.

Thus, God may use the unjust and the ungodly to achieve part of His grand plan for His people and to judge other wicked and unjust. However, that point should never be confused for his condoning of or approving of the person or people through whom does these things. They will meet their end and it was be in a way that demonstrates God’s holy justice. He used Saul in some way to lay the groundwork for the greatest of Israelite kings, David. He may have used Saul as a contrast for His people to see how clearly that David was a man after God’s own heart. Who knows?

Maybe, by allowing Donald Trump to be POTUS, God is executing judgment upon our country for the hedonistic, godless culture that we have become. Maybe it is to wake up our people to truly care about who runs our country. Maybe it is to revitalize the public debate of what is right about our country. Maybe it is to wake us all up both liberal and conservative to return to the days when compromise was what made our country work in the past rather than today’s gridlock of polarized politics. Maybe it is to pave the way to real discourse about our nations problems. Maybe it s to pave the way for us to talk about the government no longer being our savior through government programs for this and that and to teach our people again to seek greatness through hard work. Maybe it is to make us realize that things are not really as bad as the liberals think they are and not as good as the conservatives feel they are. Maybe it to pave the way for the greatest president that we will ever have just as David was the greatest king of Israel who followed after maybe its worst, Saul.

Our duty as Christ followers is to pray. Our duty as Christ followers is to submit ourselves to God’s will. Our duty as Christ followers is to care and not withdraw. Our duty as Christ followers is to get into the political arena and change the world for Christ through godly political service. Our duty as Christians is to pray for our leaders. Our duty as Christ followers is to trust God to work out His plan in the life of our nation and in our own lives. Our duty as Christ followers is to trust the Lord even in times when it appears ungodliness reigns.

Amen and Amen.

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