1 Samuel 14:47-52 Fame or Legacy？
1 Samuel 14:47-52
Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, the sons of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines; and wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment. He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them. Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan and Ishvi and Malchi- shua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab and the name of the younger Michal. The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the captain of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. Now the war against the Philistines was severe all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any mighty man or any valiant man, he attached him to his staff.
The chapter has so far shown contradictory impressions concerning Saul as a person; this section follows a list of his military achievements in a fashion favorable to him. As this list more or less sums up his kingly career, it would be beneficial to add some depth by contrasting with the underlying canvas of Saul’s psyche: some of the inner issues that hindered him that otherwise could have given him a glorious legacy. Saul sought fame at the expense of a glorious legacy. What is the difference between fame and legacy? And which are you seeking?
Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side – Based on the information given in 1 Samuel, Saul’s military exploits had the simple strategy of securing territories in the center, south and north of the country. From a devotional viewpoint, Saul’s military victories were short-lived, and by end of Saul’s reign they posed as great a threat as ever to Israel’s sovereignty. This was simply because the people have not learned to fear God and to walk in His ways.
He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them – This chapter puts forth contradictory ideas concerning Saul. He is portrayed here as valiant and selflessly committed to the course of Israel. At the same time he is inconsistent, controlling and insecure in his ways. As we know it, Saul did not exit the stage gloriously but as one disguised as an ordinary soldier killed by a stray arrow shot through the cracks of his armor. The chronicles of Saul’s military exploits contrasted with the fashion in which he died.
And when Saul saw any mighty man or any valiant man, he attached him to his staff – Saul was savvy at recruiting mighty and valiant men, and they were naturally attracted to him. However, he readily exploited them for his purposes and showed no gratitude for their effort. At the same time, he would not think twice about getting rid of them should they pose a slightest threat to his ego. David is a case in point.
- A nation’s prosperity in the longer term does not depend on the prowess of its government but on the righteousness of the people – It is wise saying that a nation’s future is predominantly determined by its domestic politics and policies. Hence, the government’s key responsibility is to shepherd the people towards righteousness, gratitude and charity without which the people will turn against one another and against their own government that led them. As seen in Saul’s growing fear of his people, any government could never please the people indefinitely by giving them what they want. Saul’s military success was short-lived, by the time of David, they found themselves once again oppressed by the very same enemies they once defeated. God will fight for His people who is steadfast in righteousness. Psalm 34:19 say, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
- A man is not measured by his performance but by his motives and intentions – It is hard to reconcile the fact that a man having done so much could be esteemed so little. Saul was rejected by God, and his works will not speak for him on the day of his judgment; the reason being that God values obedience and selfless service above performance. Saul’s works were no doubt impressive in the eyes of man, and he risked his life in many of the battles. But he was rejected because God looks at the motives and intentions of the heart. Saul works not out of love to build God’s kingdom, but his own benefit and glory. Paul says,
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3
We may have established huge organizations that benefitted the masses, we may be trailblazers in our own right. But if our hearts’ intentions become self-serving, we will receive no reward on our day of judgment. Fame is performance driven and its allure is captivating. But as soon as the sights and sound are over, it quickly loses its influence. On the other hand, legacy is built on love and a God-centered purpose. Its spirit and influence endures and grows even after the person passes on.
- The criterion when working with great people is to shepherd them to rise up while rejoicing with them – Saul, himself being an impressive man attracted valiant men like a magnet. However, Saul was not prepared to let them rise to their full potential for he was only prepared to use them for his own benefit and to boost his own ego. A leader must learn to serve as a humble servant having no intention to lord over the people or to exploit them. The leader’s role is to create an environment so that people can grow and fulfill their life’s purpose and calling. Jesus says,
Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-27
- Are you constantly striving to prove yourself before God and man? God looks not at a person’s talent, but at his heart and rewards him accordingly. Hence, we should strive to be a kind, righteous and confident person under all circumstances. Man may look at the size of your establishment, or your position in your organization, or the value of your assets. But God looks only at the posture of our hearts and rewards us accordingly. Hence, we do not need to ask God to use us, but just be the right person that He could use. That’ll do.
- Do you have a servant mentality or an egoistic mentality? A servant is someone who is always looking for opportunities to help others rise up. But an egoistic person always asks, “What’s in it for me?”
Dear Lord, I understand that your standards of judgment and the standards of the world are poles apart. Help me be the right person that you could use in whatever situation that you deem fit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.