Saul and Israel’s defeat on the mountain top contrasts with the victory David is given and how that victory is shared amongst the towns of Israel. David’s grief at hearing the news and his lament show a graciousness that challenges me.
Notes in my Bible point out that Saul’s army is considerably weakened by the loss of David. The unforeseen result of Saul’s jealousy is this defeat.
Yet David respects the anointing of Saul: the kingship of Saul. He won’t attack him, he won’t kill him. All through 1 Samuel he sees himself as Saul’s servant. He defends and serves Saul’s kingdom faithfully. He leaves because Saul would take his life and over and over wants to restore that relationship, hiding out nearby, usually in the desert and refusing to take Saul’s life or read the will of God into any opportunity to do that. When David hears of the death and defeat on Mount Gilboa, he is devastated, not triumphant. David never forgets the anointing of the LORD. He was claimed and named as king and set apart to be king.
So, you couldn’t be un-anointed! David speaks of that anointing in Psalm 23 and in the Baptism service, we use oil and the words, “Christ claims you as His own.”
In Saul we see how not to do it... did Samuel make a mistake in anointing him? God’s amazing kingdom isn’t established through Saul’s kingship because Saul is insecure despite the anointing; jealous, despite the anointing; disobedient despite the anointing. And I realise that Saul seems a lot like me. Saul seems perhaps to think he’s got to do stuff on his own, despite having God and despite having Samuel. And Saul is often afraid, anointed without really living in the anointing. Psalm 18:26 sums up David’s attitude: you have to fight the battles; you have to live in your anointing. Yes, you are chosen and yes, the LORD will put things into your hands BUT there’s going to be some fighting.
David acknowledges over and over that God had put victory into his hands, but David has to be a fighter, a leader, a deliverer himself. David is literally called to do in the physical what Jesus ultimately does for us in the spiritual - He comes and rescues us.
This calling amazingly is ours too, Revelation 5.10 speaks of a new song...that describes us as made into kings and priests by the death of Jesus. Let us spend some time reflecting on that fact today.