As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament this semester, I have read through some very sad, depressing stories about people who begin to rely on themselves instead of God. For instance – the fall of man, the tower flood story, the tower of Babel, the death of Moses, the inability of the Israelites to drive out the Canaanites, the stories found in Judges or Abimilech, Samson, and the Levite in Benjamin. I could go on. But the saddest, most pathetic, most pitiable characters I have encountered so far is King Saul.
When we start out, he is anointed by Samuel as the king for whom Israel had been praying. But as the story progresses, we see “the Lord’s anointed” fall into a moral tailspin. He begins to rely completely on himself and turns his back on God. He begins by disobeying God and blaming others for his mistakes. Then he flat out rejects God to the point that God regretted he ever made Saul to be king. What starts out as a little rebellion quickly escalates into full scale manic depression. His best friend is his spear which is always by his side even when he sleeps. His whole life is consumed with a burning desire for vengeance against David, who did nothing to Saul in the first place. This heartbreaking story ends in the loss of his sons in a hopeless battle, the loss of his throne, and the loss of all hope when Saul commits suicide.
But the story of Saul doesn’t end there. After David becomes king, he honors his oath he made to Jonathan, Saul’s son, and honors the last remaining relative of Saul – his grandson Mephibosheth. One of the most heartbreaking stories in the Bible ends in one of the most touching stories of redemption.