The second incident leading to Saul’s downfall is found towards the end of Chapter 14.
Jonathan had attacked a small Philistine outpost. There were only a handful of men there but what was amazing is how God used that small attack. He caused the rest of the Philistine camp to become confused and fearful. Suddenly they were all attacking each other and the Israelite army took full advantage of the situation. They jumped into battle and the LORD gave them victory that day. All the men who had left or went into hiding came back and helped in the attack. It was a much needed turn of events.
But that was not enough for Saul and he made his army take an oath not to eat any food until he has taken more revenge upon his enemies. The strategy was to motivate and drive his soldiers to fight harder. Many of you know what happened next. Jonathan, his son, ate some honey.
Yes, he did not hear the order from his father, but even when he was told of the wrong he committed what did Jonathan say: my father is just making trouble. No repentance – like father like son.
Saul seems to deal with it appropriately at first, he seeks God and promises to make amends:
v.39 – even if it means killing his own son. v.44 – again he seems to be on track but the fact remains Jonathan does not die.
Saul’s second mistake: he desired to keep the favor of his men, rather than the commandments of his God. If you’re ever not sure if you are dealing with pride, this is a good way to test: how much do you depend on the approval and opinion of others?
Last week we saw Hannah and her humility before God and her family. She gave her son, she gave her identity away out of obedience. Saul didn’t, he couldn’t – that was where he found his worth, in his position. Most anything could have happened to Hannah and she would have remained faithful because the object of her affection was God: not the gifts he could her or the people he put in her life, but the Creator himself.
Saul’s third incident is found in Chapter 15.
Saul is told to punish to Amalekites for what they did to Israel a long time ago. The directions are clear: destroy everything. That means all the people and all of their possessions, nothing should be left whether it is valuable or not.
And for a third time Saul disobeyed. For a third time he showed that his heart was not surrendered and for a third time he led the nation of Israel to disobey God.
v.9 – Saul kept what had value in his eyes. He refused to destroy the things he believed would add to his worth and his kingdom.
This was the last straw. Samuel confronts Saul in v.17.
Pride destroyed Saul’s devotion. It took him off track, blinded him, and drove him to chase the wrong things.
It is ironic as you keep reading that everything Saul refused to do came back to bite him in the end; not killing Jonathon and especially not destroying all of the Amalekites.
A speaker I recently listened to put it this way, “you reap what you sow and the harvest is always bigger than the seed.” Here Saul was sowing his pride and he believed everything was fine because he did not know the harvest that was to come, when all of his actions and decisions were about to be shown for what they really were: disobedience.