As you may or may not know, the familiar phrase “a man after my own heart” originates in the Bible. God says: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who shall fulfill all my will.” This basically means David was a man who God found appealing and who corresponded with the desires of His heart.
As we will see, regarding Saul, Israel’s first king and David’s immediate predecessor, God could have truly said to Israel: “I have found Saul the son of Kish, a man after YOUR own heart…“ In the book of 1 Samuel chapter 8, we learn how Saul became king. At the time, Samuel was the prophet/judge in Israel and Israel prospered under his faithful leadership. As he aged, his corrupt sons were set to take his place. The people of Israel fearfully cried out for a human king, saying: “…that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20 NKJV). God declared that this request was tantamount to rejecting Him as their King. He said he would give them a their king, but warned that this wouldn’t turn out as nice as they imagined. God may grant His people’s selfish cries, but the results may be terrible.
In Saul, God gave Israel exactly what they wanted. Look at the first description of him: “a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.“ (1 Samuel 9:2 KJV). The word “goodly” in Hebrew basically means “good” in the widest sense: handsome, appealing, pleasant, strong, etc.
For our generation, Saul represents the rule of the soul over the kingdom of God, which Jesus said is within man, under the title of Christianity. The religion of Christianity is based on the desires and reasoning of the carnal, fearful human soul. Like Saul, this kingdom appears very “goodly” – impressive in appearance, offering security, and winning victories over the enemies of God’s people. But all of this proves to be hollow or temporary, because at the core is religious, human desire, understanding, tradition and fear.
Consider that the beginning of Saul’s reign foreshadowed that of the religion of Christianity. In both, God’s people desired to be governed by something easily accessible and familiar, like the physical governments of the world. There was also a wish for this tangible system to judge them and arrange an army to fight their battles for them (clergy, anyone?) Saul remained king long after God had rejected him for choosing his own way over God’s. I believe also that Christianity has been rejected by God but has continued to reign over His people for a season.
Israel then and the church now make a grave mistake by looking back (using the reasoning of their minds) on the impressive beginning and victories of Saul/Christianity as evidence these kingdoms continue to be legitimate before God. After Saul chose his own way over God’s, here is what God said to Saul through Samuel: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23, 16:1 KJV). No matter how much religious good one is doing in the eyes of self or others, even in the name of Jesus, God sees stubbornness against change and rebellion against His desires as grave evils.
The kingdom of David, which immediately followed Saul’s, represents an inward rulership of God’s people by His spirit; a kingdom where God is trusted, sought, waited for, known, obeyed, and loved. The establishment of David’s kingdom was declared long before he became king, but from a young age he was mighty and victorious and it was evident that God was with him. Right now, “David’s” rulership of the spirit is gaining strength and growing, while Saul’s is weakening, shrinking and headed for destruction. This truly spiritual leadership which David represents is humbly and patiently waiting to be established king in “Israel” (the hearts of God’s people) in God’s time and in God’s way, being content in Him.
The religion of Christianity has become infiltrated by corruption, selfishness and blindness, from the souls of men over many generations, and has been rejected by God. Let go! Humble yourself! Follow the prompting of the spirit of God on your heart right now! Abandon totally all of your own religious ways, desires, understandings, and interpretations of scripture. Trust God’s spirit and with all you have, ask God to teach you Himself (1 John 2:27). It’s new, foreign, largely uncharted, but it’s the only way. God bless you.