Every time I read through the story of Saul I find myself wondering what went wrong with Saul. If you fall into the trap of comparing sin, then you might come to the conclusion that his offences were no worse than David's or even that David's sin was the more serious. But we know that such a comparison is pointless because all sin is sin from a Biblical perspective (Jas. 2:10). So what went wrong for Saul?
It seems to start with hiding in the luggage. It would be rather odd, to my mind at least, to suggest that God chose Saul because he knew he would fail and that would prove a point about how worn the nation had been for asking for a king. It's pretty obvious that God was displeased with heir demand to be like the other nations, but I do not believe that God is so petty that he would do such a thing. No, I'd rather look more positively at the way God would use the monarchy to continue to work out his plan and purpose.
So Saul was not chosen to fail. He had all the potential to be a great king, a good leader of the people. But he became driven. His call became lost in the need to hold on to power. Dare one suggest that this might even be true for one or two of the high profile church leaders of our own day? Rapidly growing a church from nothing to thousands seems to come at a price. When churches become corporations it must be very hard not to become the king of your own empire. Peter Parker's uncle had it right when he spoke of great responsibility being associated with great power.
When he first became king, Saul was greeted with scepticism that soon turned to adulation when he won his first battle. But within only a few chapters the king who had led thousands had only a few hundred with him. What was more important was that he was becoming less and less connected, making every more rash decisions and vows.
Did Saul confess his mistakes, did he repent of his sin? Is this what makes him different to David? Saul was not described as a man after God's own heart, but then neither were a number of good kings either. David was not a "special one", but clearly something was different.
I once caused a minor tremor when I wondered aloud about what set Peter apart from Judas? Both had betrayed Jesus to some extent, Peter through his denial, Judas directly. But once again you can't weight their actions and say one comes up worse than the other. No, the thing that seems to distinguish these two is that one of them dealt with it through confession and therefore found forgiveness and the other chose to deal with their sin on their own. One judged himself, the other trusted the judgement of God. Could this have been Saul's problem too? Did he become so selfish, so driven that he paid the price for his own sin and never put himself in the hands of God? I'll keep reading and I'll keep trying to make sense of it all.