A Tale of Two Kings [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — July 14, 2016
Are you ready for some good news?
King Jesus is a fulfillment of King David, not King Saul.
Text: “And Samuel said, “… Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”” (1 Samuel 15:22–23, ESV)
Today, in our series on David, we learn from the striking contrast between Saul and David. As we’ve seen, when Israel lusted for a king “like the other nations,” God gave them what they wanted: a gifted, tall, handsome, impressive looking leader. But Saul had no inward character.
In literary terms, Saul is a foil to David. A foil is someone who bears many similarities to the hero, but is also a stark contrast. For example, Watson is the perfect foil to Holmes. They’re both investigators, of course, but Watson serves to show how brilliant Sherlock really is.
Saul and David bear many similarities. Both Saul and David were early kings of ancient Israel. Both were anointed with oil. Both experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. Both experienced rejection. Both offered sacrifices to the Lord. But there the similarities end.
Their differences are pointed. Saul rises quickly to power; David’s journey requires longsuffering. Saul looked like a king; David was forgotten when Samuel came to Jesse’s house looking for the new king. Perhaps the greatest contrast between the two kings is most subtle. Both men offered sacrifices to the Lord, but their motivation was oh so different.
When David finally took the throne in Jerusalem, he brought up the Ark of the Covenant “with rejoicing.” And every six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. David danced with all his might as they brought the symbol of God’s presence up to Jerusalem.
Saul also offered sacrifices, but his gesture brought the wrath of God and the end of Saul’s reign. The Lord had instructed Saul to destroy Amalek and all its people and livestock. Saul indeed defeated the Amalekites, but notably spared the best of the sheep, oxen and fattened calves. Why? Saul told Samuel: “… the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God….”
David was rejoicing like a little child while Saul was hoarding up potential burnt offerings with which he could impress God. But God can’t be manipulated by acts of righteousness. He can only be praised for His own unfettered goodness. David’s offerings were a fragrant aroma to God but Saul’s manipulative sacrifices were an unlawful stench. God loves grace, not sacrifice. And that’s the Gospel!