The Purpose of This Lesson is: 

  • To contrast a self-dependent disposition (King Saul) with a God-dependent disposition (King David)

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

  • To change the focus of attention from “outward behavior” (King Saul) to “inward transformation” (King David). 

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.


1) The main difference between the two types of believers, is that of a disposition (acknowledgement of) toward the authority (Lordship) of Jesus in a Christian’s life.  (or acknowledgement of His authority over my life.)

2) Many Christians perceive that there is a divided authority,  with God governing in some areas, while the Christian has authority over other areas, and that it is the Christian’s right, or privilege, to decide over which areas God should exercise authority. The problem arises because Jesus stated clearly that there can only be one master in a Christian’s life.

Matthew 6:24  “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money."

3) As a believer, unless I am taught otherwise, my natural tendency is for me to assume authority over my life, while granting to God authority over limited “spiritual” areas.

4) Many believers think that the relinquishing of authority over their life (accepting His yoke) is a long process rather than a one-time conscious choice. The problem with presenting Lordship as a process is that it results in the Christian, often unknowingly, assuming that their own priorities have a rightful place of supremacy over God’s priorities. There is a long-term daily aspect of surrender, just as marriage partners need to daily reinforce their initial vows.

5) During the spiritual mentoring process, the mentor needs to discern how the mentee (apprentice) perceives God’s authority over his/her life.  Christians who have acknowledged Christ’s Lordship over their life will often be able to identify the approximate time and circumstances surrounding that event. The reason for this is that the choice to accept His rightful authority (His yoke) is not a casual decision.

6) As a Christian I need to understand that God’s stated ownership is an absolute, which is not at all dependent on my acceptance or acknowledgment of it.  An acceptance or acknowledgment of what God says is truth simply removes a major obstacle to His using and blessing me in the way He desires. To reject His Lordship is to usurp authority that is not mine.

Luke 6:46 (Jesus asked) “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?”

7) If I, as a Christian try to serve two masters (God and myself), I have a divided loyalty (double minded), attempting to satisfy God while at the same time perceiving God as someone who will help me achieve my goals and aspirations in this life.

8) King Saul is an Old Testament example of a believer who was unwilling to surrender his will to God, but rather chose to rely on his human understanding (self-dependence). In stark contrast King David is an example of a believer who accepted God’s authority over his life. Obviously, David was guilty of grave sins, yet God testifies of his disposition of submission in Acts 13:22.

Acts 13:22 After removing him, He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man loyal to Me, who will carry out all My will.’

King Saul’s sins may not outwardly seem as grievous to man, yet God’s disapproval is very evident, due to Saul’s unwillingness to accept His authority.

King Saul’s problem was one of the will (LORDSHIP), while king David’s was one of behavior. 

9) I will either perceive myself as a servant to God, or I will perceive God as my helper/partner. 

NOTE: Maturity has to be factored in also.  A Christian may have made a lordship decision (and be surrendered), yet be immature.

King Saul – A Self-Dependent Believer

(King Saul reigned for 40 years – Acts 13:21)

Both kings were chosen by God, and God’s presence was evident in both of them. Each was disobedient to God and each was confronted by a prophet of God.

Their responses to God’s spokesmen, Samuel and Nathan, reveal their distinct heart dispositions towards God.

Man tends to look at outward appearance (easier to be misled), but God looks at the heart attitude (and is never misled).

1 Samuel 16:7 … Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.

1) King Saul was chosen by God, and the Holy Spirit was evidenced in his life.

1 Samuel 9:17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man I told you about; he will rule over My people.”

1 Samuel 10:6-7 (Samuel said) The Spirit of the Lord will control you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person. When these signs have happened to you, do whatever your circumstances require because God is with you.

1 Samuel 10:9-10 When Saul turned around to leave Samuel, God changed his heart, and all the signs came about that day. When Saul and his attendant arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. Then the Spirit of God took control of him, and he prophesied along with them.

2) King Saul’s outward appearance was very attractive and acceptable to the people.

1 Samuel 9:2  He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else.

1 Samuel 10:22–24he stood a head taller than anyone else. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population.” …

3) King Saul was given a simple command: to wait for Samuel to come to offer the sacrifice to God.

1 Samuel 10:8  (Samuel said) “Afterward, go ahead of me to Gilgal. I will come to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice fellowship offerings. Wait seven days until I come to you and show you what to do.”

1 Samuel 13:8–14

:8 He waited seven days for the appointed time that Samuel had set, but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the troops were deserting him.

:9 So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered the burnt offering.

:10 Just as he finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. So Saul went out to greet him,

:11 and Samuel asked, “What have you done?” Saul answered, “When I saw that the troops were deserting me and you didn’t come within the appointed days and the Philistines were gathering at Michmash,”

:12 I thought: The Philistines will now descend on me at Gilgal, and I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor. So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.”

:13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have been foolish. You have not kept the command which the Lord your God gave you. It was at this time that the Lord would have permanently established your reign over Israel,”

:14 “but now your reign will not endure. The Lord has found a man loyal to Him, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not done what the Lord commanded.”

Note: On the seventh day, the day Samuel was to arrive, Saul decided he could wait no longer and unlawfully took on himself the priestly responsibility of offering community sacrifice.  God had given specific directions on who and how the offering of sacrifice should be done:

Leviticus 6:8-13 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Command Aaron and his sons: This is the law of the burnt offering; the burnt offering itself must remain on the altar’s hearth all night until morning, while the fire of the altar is kept burning on it.  The priest is to put on his linen robe and linen undergarments. He is to remove the ashes of the burnt offering the fire has consumed on the altar, and place them beside the altar. Then he must take off his garments, put on other clothes, and bring the ashes outside the camp to a ceremonially clean place.  The fire on the altar is to be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest will burn wood on the fire. He is to arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat portions from the fellowship offerings on it.  Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out.

4) King Saul was given another command, but disobeyed again and was confronted by Samuel. 

1 Samuel 15:1-35

:1-3 Samuel told Saul, …“This is what the Lord of Hosts says, … Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

:4-7 … Saul came to the city of Amalek and set up an ambush in the wadi.… Saul struck down the Amalekites.

a) Saul once again chose to follow his own reasoning rather than follow instructions that didn’t seem to concur with his human understanding.

:8-9 He captured Agag king of Amalek alive, but he completely destroyed all the rest of the people with the sword. Saul and the troops spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, cattle, and choice animals, as well as the young rams and the best of everything else. They were not willing to destroy them, but they did destroy all the worthless and unwanted things.

Question: What was wrong with Saul’s reasoning?  (Do you know who, as a descendent of Agag, was a threat to the Jews later?  Esther 3:1)

b) Saul was more concerned about the approval of men than the approval of God.

:10-12 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, … “Saul … has not carried out My instructions.”  … Early in the morning Samuel got up to confront Saul, but it was reported to Samuel, “Saul went to Carmel where he set up a monument for himself. Then he turned around and went down to Gilgal.”

Question: What is the purpose of a monument?  Why was he not repentant and responsive to the Lord?

c) When confronted by Samuel, Saul defends his reasoning.

:13-15 When Samuel came to him, Saul said, “May the Lord bless you. I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” Samuel replied, “Then what is this sound of sheep and cattle I hear?” Saul answered, “The troops brought them from the Amalekites and spared the best sheep and cattle in order to offer a sacrifice to the Lord your God, but the rest we destroyed.”

:16-19 “Stop!” exclaimed Samuel. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” he replied. Samuel continued, “Although you once considered yourself unimportant, have you not become the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel and then sent you on a mission and said: ‘Go and completely destroy the sinful Amalekites. Fight against them until you have annihilated them.’ So why didn’t you obey the Lord? Why did you rush on the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

:20-21 “But I did obey the Lord!” Saul answered. “I went on the mission the Lord gave me: I brought back Agag, king of Amalek, and I completely destroyed the Amalekites. The troops took sheep and cattle from the plunder—the best of what was set apart for destruction—to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

:22-23 Then Samuel said: “Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

Question: What are the flaws in Saul’s reasoning?  How does God describe Saul’s attitude?

d) Saul finally acknowledges his sin, but is still focused on men’s approval, rather than God’s approval.

:24-25 Saul answered Samuel, “I have sinned. I have transgressed the Lord’s command and your words. Because I was afraid of the people, I obeyed them. Now therefore, please forgive my sin and return with me so I can worship the Lord.”

:26-29 Samuel replied to Saul, “I will not return with you. Because you rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” When Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you…”

:30-35 Saul said, “I have sinned. Please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel. Come back with me so I can bow in worship to the Lord your God.” Then Samuel went back, following Saul, and Saul bowed down to the Lord… Samuel went to Ramah.

e) God tells us why Saul died.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 Saul died for his unfaithfulness to the Lord because he did not keep the Lord’s word. He even consulted a medium for guidance, but he did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. …

1 Samuel 28:19  (Samuel said)  "The Lord will also hand Israel over to the Philistines along with you. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will hand Israel’s army over to the Philistines.”

King David – A God-Dependent Believer

(King David reigned for 40 years – 2 Samuel 5:4-5)

1) King David was chosen by God, prepared by God, and blessed by God. David was a “spiritual” / God-dependent believer, who had a passion for the Lord.

1 Samuel 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”

1 Samuel 16:13 So Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord took control of David from that day forward

1 Samuel 16:18 One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is also a valiant man, a warrior, eloquent, handsome, and the Lord is with him.”

1 Samuel 18:14 … and (David) continued to be successful in all his activities because the Lord was with him.

Psalm 34:1–14 David wrote) I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad. Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me; let us exalt His name together. ... Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh, … Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 63:1–8 (David wrote) God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory.  My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life. So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. When I think of You as I lie on my bed, I meditate on You during the night watches because You are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of Your wings. I follow close to You; Your right hand holds on to me.

2) However, David offended God and lived out of fellowship with Him for a period of months. (2 Samuel 11 and 24) 

2 Samuel 11:1-27

:1 In the spring when kings march out to war, ... David remained in Jerusalem.

:2–5 One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman. So David sent someone to inquire about her, and he reported, “This is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite.” David sent messengers to get her, and when she came to him, he slept with her. … The woman conceived and sent word to inform David: “I am pregnant.”

:6–13 David sent orders to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” When Uriah came to him, … he said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king followed him. But Uriah … did not go down to his house. … So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. Then David invited Uriah to eat and drink with him, and David got him drunk. …but he did not go home.

:14–25 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In the letter he wrote: Put Uriah at the front of the fiercest fighting, then withdraw from him so that he is struck down and dies…  Uriah the Hittite also died. Joab sent someone to report to David all the details of the battle. …The messenger reported to David, “... Your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘… the sword devours all alike.’

:26–27 … David had her brought to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. However, the Lord considered what David had done to be evil.

a) As Samuel had confronted Saul, the prophet Nathan confronted David.

2 Samuel 12:1–4 So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him:

“There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him.

Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.”

:5–6 David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!”

:7–12 Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. Why then have you despised the command of the Lord by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife—you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword. Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.’ “This is what the Lord says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.’”

b) But unlike Saul, David immediately accepted full blame for his sin, and was immediately forgiven.   (Also see Psalm 51)

:12:13 David responded to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then Nathan replied to David, “The Lord has taken away your sin; you will not die.”

:12:14 However, because you treated the Lord with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die.”

3) David’s forgiveness by God was complete.

:12:24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba; he went and slept with her. She gave birth to a son and named him Solomon. The Lord loved him, …

Note: God chose Solomon to build His temple. Solomon was used by God to write some portions of Scripture. Solomon is also listed in the genealogy of Jesus, as well as his mother Bathsheba ("Uriah's wife".)  See Matthew 1:6.

God’s testimony about David (after his death).

1 Kings 14:8 … My servant David, who kept My commands and followed Me with all of his heart, doing only what is right in My eyes.

Acts 13:22 … He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the sonof Jesse, a man loyal to Me, who will carry out all My will.’

4) Discussion:

King Saul is an Old Testament example of a believer who was unwilling to surrender his will to God, but rather chose to rely on his human understanding (self-dependence).
In stark contrast King David is an example of a believer who accepted God’s authority over his life. Obviously David was guilty of grave sins, yet God testifies of his disposition of submission in Acts 13:22.

Acts 13:22 After removing him, He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man loyal to Me,who will carry out all My will.’

King Saul’s sins may not outwardly seem as grievous to man, yet God’s disapproval is very evident, due to Saul’s unwillingness to accept His authority.

King Saul’s problem was one of not surrendering his will (Lordship), and being self-dependent.

King David had surrendered his will and chose to be God-dependent.  However, he sinned and his behavior required God's forgiveness.

Both Saul and David were believers. One had not surrendered his will (Lordship) to the Lord, and sinned; the other had surrendered his will to the Lord, but also sinned.

As a trait of life, Saul sought the approval of other people, while as a trait of life, David sought the approval of God.

In a poll or court of public opinion, whose sin would people consider more grievous? Why?

Whose sin did the Lord consider more grievous? Why? What were the consequences of their sins?

Self-dependence” (self-reliant) does not mean everything I do is wrong (before people), and being “spiritual” or "God-dependant" does not mean everything I do is right (before God).

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”  C.S.Lewis  (When there’s only God and you.)