King Saul vs King David – Lessons in Character & Integrity

April 3, 2018 at 11:34 AM

We are all aware from 2 Samuel 11 how off the charts David went by following his lust directed at Bathsheba. As if this was not bad enough, he was lured away by his lust to sleep with this married woman, impregnated her, and then in a terrible attempt to hide his sin, he had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah the Hittite killed in battle. It was a long fall for a man who sought after the heart of God.

It is difficult for us to come to terms with this level of depravity in one who normally evidenced such love, character and integrity for those he met and dealt with on a routine basis. In that way, he reminds us of Jesus who in spite of those against Him, prevailed in loving them. Of course, Jesus never once gave into any temptation to sin, as David did and as we do. Jesus withstood every attempt of the enemy to bring Him down to failure. He remained the Victor throughout His life and to death. This is something David did not do, nor do we, nor did King Saul.

It is interesting to compare these two human kings side-by-side to see what, if anything sets them apart. It at once becomes clear that in nearly every way, David (even before he had officially become king of Israel), always tried to do what was right. When his comrades in arms encouraged him to kill King Saul as he took refuge in a cave to relieve himself, David would have none of it. In fact, the closest he got to killing Saul was to cut off a corner of his robe as he sat going to the bathroom (1 Samuel 24). David could have easily killed Saul then and there, but realized that Saul had been God’s anointed and far be it from him to end Saul’s life.

David again spared Saul’s life just a few chapters later (1 Samuel 26), when Abishai was convinced that God had given Saul into David’s hand, urging him to kill him. David refused to do so (vv 9-11), though David took proof that he had been that close to Saul and could have ended his life. This shows character and integrity within David that was severely lacking in King Saul.

I’ve mentioned previously that Saul even lowered himself to go see a medium (witch of Endor), in 1 Samuel 28, which was prohibited by Mosaic Law and the penalty for a witch was death itself. Instead, Saul actually went to see her to inquire of her. He told her to summon up Samuel to give him instruction because he was getting no answer from God on the matter that was of great concern to him. The reason for that was because God had rejected him (1 Samuel 15), because Saul had not followed God’s instructions to the letter. Why? Because of the fact that he feared the people and lacked integrity, in spite of the fact that God had poured out His Spirit on Saul originally.

This tells us that even if/when people have God’s Spirit within them it does not mean that they will have the requisite character and integrity needed to live a life in a way that fully pleases God. Character and integrity come from within and must be cultivated even when God’s Spirit moves within a person. It is clear from the Bible that God did pour out His Spirit on Saul (1 Samuel 10:9-10) and later removed it. This does not happen to Christians today after the cross of Christ. We receive the Spirit the moment of our conversion and He remains with us until we pass from this life to the next.

Again, we see a difference in the way King Saul handled things and the way David did. When Saul fell on his own sword after being wounded in battle (1 Samuel 31), a young man came to David and gave him the news. Notice the young man who told David the story of King Saul’s death credited himself for ending Saul’s life. He wanted to be the hero, to make others think well of him that he had done something “brave” by honoring King Saul’s last request. From the biblical account, we know his story was untrue, though he probably saw what happened.

The first 12 verses of 2 Samuel 1 unfold the narrative for us and we even see how it pained David in his heart when he realized that both Jonathan and King Saul were now dead. From verses 16 to the end of the chapter, David utters a mournful lament for King Saul and Jonathan. How terrible it must have been for David to experience this loss. He clearly wanted what was best and he did not hold a grudge against King Saul.

In the middle of that chapter, from verses 13 to 16, David turns his attention to the young man who relayed the story of how he had allegedly killed King Saul. David was an intelligent man. He understood what it meant to be loyal and he wondered rightly how this young man who had escaped a battle could have killed King Saul without even worrying about the fact that he had raised his hand against God’s anointed? Remember, David had numerous opportunities to kill Saul but chose not to because he did not believe it was in his power to do so. The idea that this young man had so callously raised his hand to the king of Israel was astounding to him.

David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” in verse 14. What could he say to that question? It was too late to say, “Oh, did I say I killed the king?! No, I meant, I watched him die as I helplessly stood by!” He was a liar and because of his lies about killing King Saul, he would pay with his life. Sad, isn’t it? Another young man with no integrity or character, but wanting to be seen as heroic and brave. In fact, he was the exact opposite of these things and his own lies cornered him.

But again, the emphasis here is on David and his own level of integrity and character. He knew it was wrong to raise a hand against King Saul because God had anointed him as king over Israel. It was up to God to end Saul’s life. David would have no part in that nor would he honor anyone who raised his hand against Saul or said that he did.

David’s life – for the most part – was filled with one example after another of proof of his character. The clear dark mark against him is the situation with Bathsheba, but this did not erase the level of his character. It proves that he was a fallen human being, able to follow the dictates of temptations that came to him just as they come to us. We need to guard ourselves against falling away from God and it can happen so quickly and easily. One bad decision can lead to very serious consequences.

God was severely angry with David for his lapse in judgment and his resultant sin. We see this clearly through the words of the prophet Nathan recorded in 2 Samuel 12. But because of David’s sorrowful repentance, Nathan assured David that God put away David’s sin and he would not die (v 13). However, consequences would remain and they would be severe. The child carried by Bathsheba would die and the sword would never leave David’s house. It was so. What follows in 2 Samuel 13 onward is the narrative of a house divided with a son (Absalom) working hard against his father to usurp and unseat King David. Even after Absalom is killed, David mourns his death (2 Samuel 18).

There is tremendous sadness in much of David’s life following the incident with Bathsheba. David should have been better. He should have been aware of his own sinful tendencies, but he got lazy. He stayed home from leading the troops into battle instead of being with them on the battlefield (2 Samuel 11:1).

It should give us pause to consider our own commitment to the Lord. Do we want to follow him in all things? Do we live in a way that brings glory to God by keeping a very healthy distance from those things that could easily ensnare us?

David had integrity. He had character. Later on, he also had God’s Spirit within, but none of these things, while giving him a leg up so to speak, kept him from that awful day when he allowed lust to drive Bathsheba to him.

However, when we compare David to Saul we see in Saul a man who lacked integrity and character. Though he had God’s Spirit upon him, even that did not promote the necessary level of integrity and character that David had already. Because Saul lacked this, he gave into the whims of the people, which sealed his fate. In effect, Saul chose to listen to the people of Israel rather than obey God to the nth degree.

David’s life, on the other hand, was filled with a level of obedience that is rarely seen in Scripture. He was a man after God’s own heart. He loved God, he loved people and he wanted to be obedient to God in all things. Unfortunately, like the rest of us, sin seems always at the door and he succumbed in a terrible way. This however, does not eliminate the fact that David’s overall character was one of integrity compared to Saul who seemed to make one bad decision after another.

Instead of thinking we are better than Saul (or David), we need to examine ourselves so that we are guarded against problems that attack every Christian. We also cannot rest on the fact that the Holy Spirit lives within us sealing us unto the day of redemption. We need look no further than the Corinthians to know that though they “prophesied” and spoke in “tongues,” they were extremely carnal, selfish, and lacked integrity and godly character.

Draw close to God through the daily reading of His Word and communication with Him. Don’t read the Bible because you “have” to or as a ritual. Read it to get to know the Author. Allow the truth of His Word to permeate your life. Let God within you work to create the character of Jesus, which is His goal for every authentic believer.

Some people have a level of integrity built into their character. Some don’t. But God will take anyone and mold them into the character of His Son as we rely on and depend upon the work of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be Saul. Be like David.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, eternity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , , , , , .

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