The Israelites wanted a king. It’s not hard to blame them. They looked around at all the other great empires and noticed they all had kings. The Egyptians, the Philistines, the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites all had kings. The Israelites must have seen it as the common denominator, so they pressured the prophet, Samuel, to anoint them a king, too.
It didn’t take them long to set their sights on Saul. There is nothing early in Saul’s story to mark him as a king. When we first meet Saul, he is out looking for his father’s lost donkeys, a task he appears to be struggling with. Yet the people needed little convincing that Saul was their guy. What qualifies him for a crown? Saul was handsome and tall.
Even in our own day, height is often associated with competence. It was the same in Saul’s day. He looked the part. They took one look at him and decided Saul fit the image of a king. It was enough to make him one.
Saul was the people’s choice. He represented what they wanted, and the wisdom of their choice played out not only in Israel’s history but in Saul’s own life. Saul struggled to live up to his own image. It’s not hard to see his life coming apart. The pressure cracks him and Saul slips slowly into jealousy and madness.
As Saul descended he became increasingly desperate to protect his image, his reputation. It is a warning for all of us. How easy it is to live in our public reputation and avoid the truth of who we really are. Like Saul, the rulers of our own day hire PR firms, image consultants, and lawyers to sweep away any unflattering truths. We all employ similar tactics. Hiding things, deleting things, ignoring things.
Men have long had a reputation for compartmentalizing their lives. Something compels us to stake our lives and identities on what presents best to the world. We do our best to ignore everything else. But the consequences can be just as destructive in our own lives. We too become desperate, anxious, and paranoid. We are also prone to collapse.
David would come to power in the world of Saul. And though David often understood the importance of integrity, he too found himself tempted to hide the truth. The stories of Saul and David are a reminder of what is at stake and why integrity matters more than you may realize.
We get the word integrity from the word “integer,” a whole number. Integrity does not mean you always do what is right, but rather that you are aware of the whole truth of your life. There are no fractions, no hidden pieces, no things tucked away in the shadows.
A man of integrity has taken responsibility for all his life, for what he gets right and what he has done wrong. It’s only by this integrity that we can bear the responsibilities of our own callings. David shows us how easily it goes wrong and how we can find our way back from it.
Are there things you actively work to hide in your life?