1 & 2 Samuel: Day 9

Saul’s Kingship


Today's Text: 1 Samuel 13:1-22, 1 Samuel 14:1-52, Numbers 18:7, Acts 13:21-23

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 13:1-22, 1 Samuel 14:1-52, Numbers 18:7, Acts 13:21-23

If I had my druthers, I would stick to what’s safe and comfortable.

When God put it on my heart to homeschool, I gave a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work. Mostly I doubted my ability to do the job well—and our kids were only in first grade and pre-K. But despite my initial doubts, those early years turned out to be fruitful in numerous ways, not only for them, but for our family as a whole.

Still, imagine my angst when high school neared. Yes, God had been faithful, but this was the big leagues now. The stakes were higher, and my own inadequacies might hamper their options for the future. Yet, as I write, our youngest has graduated from our homeschool and will be joining her brother at a wonderful university. Once again, God showed Himself faithful throughout the high school journey.

My propensity to stick with safety and comfort has reached well beyond homeschooling. Whenever I’ve sensed God’s call to embrace a new challenge, I’m never short on reasons why it won’t work. Or why I can’t do it. Or why I might be hearing God wrong altogether. In truth, I can identify with the King Saul we see in 1 Samuel 13 and 14.

Though Saul had been given the Spirit of God, and had once called men valiantly to battle, his courage was diminished. The Philistines were an ever-present threat, occupying territory in Israel, and Saul seemed content to lay low. Perhaps if the Israelites didn’t kick up any dust and cause trouble, the Philistines would leave them be. Despite the power God had made available to him, Saul took to playing it safe.

In stark contrast, his son Jonathan embraced the challenge. Though the Philistines were superior in number and in weaponry, Jonathan went after them with just one other man. He said, “Come on, let’s cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6).

Who puts themselves in a position to see God fight for them? Whose trust is that deep? God rewarded Jonathan’s faith, causing several Philistine men to fall and sending an earthquake that caused trembling in the camp.

What stops us from trusting like that? As believers in Christ, we are indwelled by the Spirit of God, His infinite power and might. We are armed with the promises of God, among them being His promise to be with us, His promise to establish His purposes in our lives, and His promise to be faithful, always. We are assured that we have nothing to fear—and indeed, no matter what we may endure, it can’t compare to the “eternal weight of glory” to come (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Biblical accounts such as Jonathan’s serve to stir up our faith and courage in Christ. Like Jonathan, we can believe God. We can embrace the challenges to which we are called. And we can witness God’s powerful hand at work.


Kim Cash Tate is the author of several books, including Though I Stumble (2016) and Cling: Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God (2017). A former practicing attorney, she has a passion for studying and teaching the Word of God. Kim lives in St. Louis with her husband and their two young adult children.

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  • Stacy Becker

    Really loved this. Saul had an uncomfortable kingship but that’s offset by his son. I appreciated the point about Jonathan moving full steam ahead to challenge…who else moves that confidently to see God fight for them? I can strive to!

  • It’s amazing how fear can feel comfortable! Learning how not to stay stuck in fear but to move forward in faith. 

  • HomeschoolMomof2

    As I began to read this, I was just taken into my own thoughts. You explained so well what so many think and feel in their journey. Thank you!

  • This really hit home today. As a fellow homeschooler I know all about playing it safe as well. Getting out of my comfort zone is not easy for me…and I come yp with several excuses why I am not adequate for such a task. Even for volunteer duties at church…I wish I was a take the bull by the horns kind of girl…sometimes:)
    Very good devotional…and also its always very encouraging to hear when homeschoolers graduate! Mine are not at high school level yet…to think about it makes my head swim!!!

  • I see God persistently working through the OT narrative to accomplish his will and save people. To bring them to just the right moment of acceptance of a savior. What a huge process for this warring, militaristic, nationalistic, merciless people. To accept the crucified Christ as savior, to see the way of reconciliation with God and his people is either so supremely God or completely ludicrious, in light of the heart of these people and their continued rebellion. This narrative taken as a whole shows a picture of to me of people choosing a king and what happens. God can work through whatever circumstances life takes a person on, what a miracle it is that He can, does and people surrender to him.
    I also entirely believe in the picture presented of Christ dying for mankind , healing the soldier’s ear, imploring us to pray for our enemies, love the unlovable, commanding us -Thou shall not kill. It is the length God had to bring his people, to bring the cross to us. People want the power over others, not the power within that Christ gave us.
    Acceptance of Christ’s compassion is the acceptance of God’s heart for humanity and the OT narrative is the length he had to come and also quite probably the length we can walk with others.

  • I read the scripture as Saul jumping the gun and acting too soon. Sometimes I make decisions really quickly, even if I’m not comfortable with them. In that sense, I totally recognize myself in Saul and I felt for him in, particularly in chapter 13. But I’m grateful for the example he set for me thousands of years ago: do everything with the right heart. Don’t act out of fear or ego. Act with a spirit of peace and faith. KNOW you are doing the right thing. Don’t do it until you FEEL that peaceful knowing.

    I think that’s why the author had Jonathan’s armor-bearer respond in that way: “do what is in your heart. You choose. I’m right here with you whatever you decide.” In a way it’s as if God is speaking to Jonathan (and the reader) through the armor-bearer.

    Seriously, what a great text!

    • Lana

      In other words when it comes to Saul’s case: don’t act until you feel that peaceful knowing. Don’t allow people or circumstances pressure you into acting prematurely. Settle the matter with your heart and use all the time it takes. God just revealed why he had me walk through a certain situation. Amen! So grateful for SRT.

  • Lady GauGau

    Saul’s sacrifice really stood out to me. He gave a burnt offering almost as an afterthought hoping God would bless him. How many times have I prayed to God as an afterthought instead of making that my first thing? This verse really convicted me today

  • Ashley BB

    “We are armed with the promises of God, among them being His promise to be with us, His promise to establish His purposes in our lives, and His promise to be faithful, always. We are assured that we have nothing to fear—and indeed, no matter what we may endure, it can’t compare to the “eternal weight of glory” to come (2 Corinthians 4:17).”

    Can we imagine what our lives and relationships would look like if we truly lived this? Trusting instead of feeding fear, hoping instead of despairing. May I look at my struggles, fears, and circumstances through an eternal lens.

    Thank you God for your promises which we can always rely on because You cannot lie.

  • Katalina

    Thank you Kim for those motivational words that reminded me today how special God is and how He stays true to the promises He makes. Needed these words today ❤️

  • “Whenever I’ve sensed God’s call to embrace a new challenge, I’m never short on reasons why it won’t work. Or why I can’t do it. Or why I might be hearing God wrong altogether.”

    Wow. This devotional is so relevant to my life right now. A few months ago, a thought popped into my head to do something that I never in a million years would have done on my own – to preach a sermon at my church. I even knew what topic it would be on. Despite that clarity, I felt sure that it couldn’t be from God, that I must have heard wrong or that I had been the one to put that crazy idea in my head, not Him. After all, God knew I struggled with stage fright. He knew that in spite of that, I’d been testifying more often at my church about what He’s been doing in my life since I renewed my commitment to Him last year. And hey, wasn’t that enough for now?

    The amazing thing about God though is that, as we read at the beginning of this study, He doesn’t just call to us once. He calls over and over again. In the months that followed, He sent confirmation after confirmation to me in so many amazing ways until I was sure that this challenge was from Him and knew I had no choice but to say yes to Him.

    So this Sunday, I will be preaching a sermon at my church for the first time in my life. I’ve been praying for over a year for loved ones to return to the Lord and I can’t help but wonder if this is part of God’s plan for that. I have begun inviting people to the service and am anticipating that most of them will come. The thought of preaching in front of a large crowd scares me to death, but I know that with God, I can do all things.

    If you are reading this today, please say a prayer for me as I continue to prepare for this Sunday. And please pray also for those who will be in attendance, that they will have ears to hear what God is saying to them and a heart to respond.

    • Regine

      Praying for you! That’s so amazing :-) God will definitely touch people through what you’ll be saying!

    • RondaGale

      Prayers for you as God speaks thru you and for those who hear may their hearts be softened and may they respond to His Call.

    • CJ

      Kristi – you are going to rock it! All you have to do is be still. Don’t fret, let His words come out of your mouth. I will be praying for you. <3

      • Kristi

        Thank you so much for your encouraging words and prayers! They mean more than you know.

    • churchmouse

      Your obedience to God’s calling, even if with shaking knees, will be rewarded. I always write out Psalm 19;14 at the top of my first page when I have to speak. It gives me confidence that He is the one doing the work – I’m just His willing mouthpiece.

    • Lana

      Remember God is always by your side and holding your hand!

      • Kristi

        Thank you for the reminder, Lana! You are absolutely right. When anxiety and creep into my mind, I need to remember that God is with me and will give me the words to say.

    • Missy

      Kristi, as encouragement and focus I always come back and root myself in Isaiah 55:11 when I get the privilege to speak… his Word won’t come back empty. Plant your feet firmly on it as you prepare.

      • Kristi

        Thank you, Missy! I actually just discovered that verse last year and its promise has brought me peace over and over again. It is such a powerful reminder of God’s power and sovereignty! I will definitely be meditating on it as I prepare for this Sunday.

  • Cathylynn

    My favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. I’m sure you all know it. It sounds like a promise to me! If I am trusting Him, leaning not on myself, and acknowledging Him in all my ways, then I have to believe He is directing my steps. Sometimes I find myself taking a tentative step forward and praying what my husband calls “the 2×4 prayer”, which is basically asking Him to hit me over the head with a 2×4 if I’m not aligned with His will. I wish I could say I have learned this lesson well in my old age, and do it all the time, but I don’t — I have to relearn it often. You ladies inspire me though! I love your tender hearts!

    • RondaGale

      “2×4 prayer ” … so funny and I love it!
      Proverbs 3:5-6 does help give confidence in our walk in obedience to His Will.

  • I so wanted to get up really early to do this devotional. But because of my circumstances I was so tired and weary and slept instead. So glad I read this today as I need to courage to do yet another hard thing today. I’m nervous but needs to get done. Your prayers are appreciated.

  • Noelle Ivie

    Love this, “embrace the challenges to which we re called”

    Lord, give me the courage to have bold faith like Jonathan..

  • I am so convicted by this. Thank you so much for your devotional Kate. I am dealing with a situation where I may have to return to what I deem “unsafe”. I love playing it safe too. God doesn’t mean for me to hide or to protect myself. I must trust Him, and know that he is my safety, strength and refuge.

  • Tochi Heredia

    “Whenever I’ve sensed God’s call to embrace a new challenge, I’m never short on reasons why it won’t work. Or why I can’t do it. Or why I might be hearing God wrong altogether.” Oh boy, that’s me.

    Father, remove the obstacles that stop me from trusting in You completely. Give me courage to put myself in a place where I can see You fighting for me. Please, help me to stop seeing the sidelines so attractive and be moved to go to the battlefront. Deepen my faith and my trust in You.

  • I envy Jonathan’s confidence in chapter 14. He goes forth so boldly and so filled with a firm belief that God is with them and has led them to this opportunity. I, on the other hand, struggle to make decisions every day! As some of you have mentioned in your comments above, I find myself constantly questioning whether He’s calling me to something or whether those are just my own desires. How do I learn discern to confidently move forward in decisions and not doubt (like Jonathan faithfully did) or to wait on the Lord for more direction (like Saul should have done)?

    • Veronica

      I don’t have an answer because I am in the same boat! Finding the line between what we feel ‘called’ to do and our own desires is so trying- I have been in prayer every day looking for discernment and wisdom, but still no answer. I suppose sometimes all we can do is wait. I am praying for His will to be done, for doors to open that He wants, and to tightly close the doors that are not a part of his path.

  • Virginia

    In agreement with you Laura in Jesus name!

  • 14:43-45 reminds me of Jesus standing before Pilate. Jonathan is in the wrong and deserves to die, but the people interject and save him, because he delivered Israel. Jesus, on the other hand, has done nothing wrong and is Israel’s true deliverance. Yet the people want Him crucified. Thankful that Jesus’ story is the reason I am rescued from Jonathan’s position over and over and over again!

    • Kristen


    • Emily B.

      Great comparison! I thought something similar to this when the Israelites beg God for a king and get Saul, and then years later reject their one true King, Jesus. So thankful that we still get to choose Jesus!

  • I am never confident enough that I accurately heard or understood God about what I am to do . Therefore, going forward on what may or may not be what I am suppose to do, is what stops me from feeling that God is with me and I have His power and might to accomplish something.

    • Hilary

      I am in complete understanding of how you feel. I always question, “is this God telling me to do this?”, “is this His way of saying no?”. I need to learn to be confident and discerning of HIS calling.

    • Cecelia Enns Schulz

      I can relate. But, for me, my inaction is often because of fear. What if I’m wrong? What if I do something completely out of Gods plan? What if it ISN’T God and I just look stupid? That is what I used to think. But isn’t God bigger? Doesn’t he know my heart? Wouldn’t I change my path if I discovered it wasn’t what he wanted? The answer to all of those is YES! I now act on what I THINK is God and expect that he’ll correct anything that needs to be corrected. I’d rather follow what I think is God and be wrong and get corrected than do nothing waiting to KNOW. I know God knows my heart is to be like him and to follow him and I believe his hand is on me to guide and correct and bless. If I wait til I KNOW, where is my faith?

    • Alexis

      I so understand how you feel. I struggle with this too, not knowing if I am hearing God correctly or at all. So I hesitate a lot and stall. God is so good though; he will bring confirmation after confirmation (today’s devotional is another confirmation for me) just so I will fully get that I hear him properly. He is so patient and kind to us. I don’t know what I would do without his grace.

    • Lana

      I struggle with this too. What I’ve been learning is to wait for that inner peace. I ask what I should do and then I wait. And I try really hard not to move on my own. Like Saul in the scripture today, everything should be done with the right heart. So if it’s taking you some time to get your heart together, ask God for help and ask him for answers. And have compassion for yourself! Faith is a walk not a race! If it’s truly his plan, he’ll bring along a spirit of peace about it, as well as confirmations like Alexis mentioned. At least that’s how I’ve been looking at it lately.

  • “Who puts themselves in a position to see God fight for them? Whose trust is that deep?”

    This brings to mind Exodus 14:14, “the Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” This verse hung in our daughter’s NICU bed as a terrible infection wrecked havoc in her tiny little body. For the first two weeks of her life we watched our precious baby girl lay in a hospital bed while the Lord fought for her.

    When I feel like the Lord is silent, I often recall Eden laying still in that hospital bed. It reminds me to be still before the Lord and wait for His voice and His direction. In a world full of voices and temporary things for us to place our trust in, He is calling to us through the noise asking us to be still before Him and trust that the creator God is fighting for our every need and fighting through every battle with and for us. Just like he did for Jonathan.

  • churchmouse

    In the devotion today, Kim asks “Who puts themselves in a position to see God fight for them?” My answer is, simply – the one who falls to their knees and prays.

    • PursuedByHim

      Amen! How wonderful! What a great example of how deeply we can trust our Lord and Savior! He always has a plan. We just need to completely trust His will.

  • Reading today’s passage, I’m struck by many things:
    1) Saul tried to help but was punished for this. He said he “forced” himself to do the sacrifice. So I don’t think it was out of pride like I’d always thought. But it does bring home the scripture that says “to him who knows to do right but doesn’t do it, it is sin” (roughly paraphrased and I’m not good at remembering where things are). He knew not to perform the sacrifice and cos he did it anyway, even though his intentions were good, it was still sin. I really felt for Saul then.
    2) As soon as Samuel came up and saw what Saul had done, the judgement that he’d be replaced was given. In my head I’m thinking God had already given Samuel this message well before Saul even committed the sin. It highlights how sometimes even though some people try real hard to do right, if they are not in “the number”, they are not in the number. We have to keep praying that our names are numbered in God’s book of life as salvation is not by works or by wanting it dearly. It’s all grace.
    3) God said through Samuel that if he hadn’t gone ahead and carried out the sacrifice himself, he’d have established his kingdom forever. We need to ask God for the grace to not hinder His move and work in our lives. Yes we are in the era of grace, unlike in Saul’s day but like the bible says, “should we continue in sin so that grace may abound?” It’ll be very easy to frustrate the grace of God in our lives and thus He might withdraw blessings and breakthroughs He had planned for us.
    4) Jonathan! The faith he had!! Faith truly can move mountains. I wonder, if Saul had shown that same faith and not performed the sacrifice for Samuel out of fear, the story would be different. But even with the faith he had, Jonathan was still subject to law. Saul had decreed that no one should eat anything and he did. Furthermore, even though he may have been right in saying that had Saul let the men eat, their eyes would have been bright, he did not respect the authority of his father. Respect for authority is essential even if you don’t agree, we aren’t called to be disrespectful towards those in authority over us. There’ll be consequences. Maybe not like Jonathan but there will be consequence.

    There’s loads more I saw clearly today and I’m so grateful for this study. Thanks a bunch to you all here on SRT.

    Grace and Peace to you all xxx

  • aprilinsydney

    I’m ever so sorry to hear about your mum, Tina. Take heart; the Lord hears your prayers. X

  • My mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia probably three years ago now… something we were not prepared for as a family, but we’re assured that it was early stages and that it would be a while before we saw a real change…
    This weekend everything changed…
    We tucked into her bed, on Friday night arms around each other and fell asleep. She woke at four, got up and started pacing… I tried to coax her back to bed, but to no avail. So I got up and put the kettle on to make us the British answer to all problems, tea. Mum helped make it by getting the milk and adding the sugar… all was well … the distance from her kitchen to her lounge is what, at best twelve steps… in those twelve steps, life changed forever..
    She put her tea down so she could sit, and as she was in a posture of sitting, she looked up at me and just lunged at me with such a look of anger… hands out ready to attack me… this basically was the theme for the rest of the day. I called my brother who came as soon as and we took her to the hospital. On the way there she tried to strangle me twice with my seatbelt.! Every time she saw me, she would go for me., and with such anger and venom…
    It got to the stage believed I was not helping especially as she had had three lots of sedative and still she was acting this way.. I am the eldest of seven and the only one she was picking on… can you imagine what that felt like, happy to see her other children but rage when she saw me…
    Through it all I prayed. I prayed calm for mum. I prayed peace. I prayed the Lord’s prayer. I prayed. Banished to the hallway and out of sight of mum, I prayed. Silently in my heart, out loud when mum was at her worst… I prayed.
    Wishing now I had had the courage of young Jonathan, and believed and trusted in Gods faithfulness more.., though as I write I realize I had no ill feeling towards mum, no anger, no malice towards this woman, who if she could get her hands on me would hurt me.. I did have an inner peace. Thank you Lord God..
    I had to leave to come home, 120 miles away earlier than planned, and with this picture of my mum wanting to attack me.. But God, he knows, He has mum in his sights, and is working to bring a calmer mum back to us through the medication and wisdom of the professionals… I will trust in YOU Lord God, I will trust in YOU..my shelter, my strong tower, my friend, my HOPE,
    Thank you Lord God, for our faithfulness to me, to us. Thank you.

    Praying our Lord God turn His face to shine on you my sister’s in Christ… be Blessed abundantly today… xxx

    • Farah

      Praying for you, your mum hand the rest of your family!

    • Elisabeth7291

      Tina, I’m so sorry. Prayers for what I know is difficult. If I may share an experience & perhaps the Lord use it. I had a strenuous relationship with my grandmother most of my life. In her later years & when she was suffering from dementia, I was the closest by location of my family to her, so I made sure to visit regularly. In what I see now as God’s grace, she didn’t know who I was & came to believe I was her childhood friend, Lucy. She even called me that. In this way, God allowed me to receive affection from someone I had never otherwise gotten it from. May God restore the affection your mom has for you in however He chooses to do so.

    • SB

      Praying for you and your family Tina! Keep trusting in the Lord.

    • Kathy

      Praying for you, Tina! Praying for your mum and the rest of your family. Caring for aging parents is so, so difficult. My husband and I are in the midst of it. We aren’t dealing with what you’re dealing with. I pray God brings calm and peace to your mom and brings her back home to you.

    • churchmouse

      Grateful, Tina, that in the midst of this very hard event you were able to press your default button of prayer. Instead of panic and despair, you went to the One who has the power. I join you in prayer for healing for your mum and I pray that this singular moment remains just that, a single moment. I pray for her mind to clear and her emotions to be tender towards you. Hang in there, friend.

    • At Peace

      Praying for you and your family, Tina. May God hold you tightly in the palm of His hand

    • Emily

      Tina, as I read your post, tears streamed down my face. I can’t even begin to imagine how that whole experience with your mom made you feel! 2 of my grandparents have dementia right now and are in the throes of the disease. I have seen them both do things and act in ways that are completely out of character and sometimes even offensive. It’s easy to forget that this disease leaves you with a person you know longer know and leaves them without the ability to recognize even their closest loved ones. Praying for peace and comfort and a greater understanding of God’s infinite love and grace as you walk this difficult road with your family❤️

    • GramsieSue

      Oh Tina, it’s heartbreaking what dementia does to our loved ones. Praying that God would comfort you with His love and give her a gentle spirit toward you. Keep your focus on Him during this difficult journey of life. Praying for strength and peace for you, sister.

    • CC

      Tina, I’m grieving with you and praying for you. I watched my grandmother go through a very similar thing, yet seeing your mom go through it is something entirely different I think. So thankful that the Lord gave you peace and understanding toward your mom in the midst of everything. I will continue to pray for both of you

      • Kristen

        Tina, I have read many of your comments and you are a courageous, kind, inspiring woman of God! Keep being a light and a warrior for Him! He loves you and sees what you do. Remember all His promises Thanks

    • Alexis

      So sorry Tina. I am praying peace for you and your mum through this difficult time. God is with you and won’t leave you .

    • Lana

      Praying for you, Tina. Sending you a big hug.

    • Tina

      Dear Sisters thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement… I am blessed to know you are covering my family and myself in prayer… it difficult… it’s tough…
      But God…
      He is my way… He is my truth… and He will forever be my light, through this and my lifes journey… I look to Him.
      Thank you again Sisters…
      Every Blessing…with love and gratitude to you all….xxxx

      • Shelley

        I’m so sorry for this pain. You’re mum would never act like this in her right mind – hold fast to that dear one. I just want to tell you that I see a courageous heart within you from the words you have shared and the faith you have poured out in your posts. Keep clinging to the hem if his garment – He loves you – He understands x

    • Tricia C

      Your mum and family are in my prayers sweet sister. Peace be with you.

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