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Saul vs David: The Importance of Discipline

Discipline. That would can stir up thoughts of punishment and pain. But in the eyes of God, discipline is a display of His love for us. We learn in the book of Hebrews that discipline shows us that we have become sons of God.

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Hebrews 12:7‭-‬8 NASB1995

Now God disciplines us out of love, because He knows that discipline will lead us into success. And a great example of that in the Bible is the story of David and Saul. The Lord showed me this recently as I was reading again through 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Let’s get started.

Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.

1 Samuel 15:10‭-‬11 NASB1995

This story begins with the fall of King Saul. The Lord had commanded Saul to attack the Amalekites and destroy them for the sin that happened when the Israelites were in the desert wandering. The Amalekites had attacked them and tried to kill their weak and young. Now the Lord was seeking vengence for this sin through King Saul. The command was to leave nothing alive, neither livestock or human and to destroy everything. But Saul decided to keep the best of the livestock and ‘all things that were good’. Now this angered the Lord and God sent Samuel to speak to Saul.

Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”

1 Samuel 15:17‭-‬19 NASB1995

After this Samuel lets Saul know that God has chosen another man to be King, and that the Kingdom will be stripped from him. This other man was David of course. Now here is what the Lord showed me about this passage that was very interesting. It says here that Saul was little in his own eyes when he was made King over Israel. I believe this is why God chose Saul to be king. It was because he saw Saul’s heart and knew that he was humble. Later we see that his humility turns to pride as he builds a moument to himself in honor of his victories. But what I want to talk about it how David was chosen in the same way.

When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:6‭-‬7 NASB1995

So we see that both Kings were chosen for their hearts, but why did they have such different results? I believe it is because of the discipline of the Lord. With Saul, he was chosen as King and then he went on in the power of God to defeat the Philistines which secured his throne. But with David, he knew that he was to be king from a young age and was disciplined in the Lord for a long time before he became king. David had to endure being a shepherd, fighting a lion, bear, and then Goliath. Then he fought his way up the ranks under King Saul, only to be chased by the King in the wilderness for many years. Finally, after all this David was ready for his anointing as King. By this time David was fully honed and trained for the leadership. I want to encourage anyone reading this that you will have that ministry and calling that the Lord wants for you, but you may have to endure some discipline first. Take courage in the Lord.

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