Saul, Silence and Christ
Silence... peaceful solitude, where for a moment in time there is nothing around but the bliss of silence.
In the hours that proceeded the death of King Saul, he is found in a distraught, almost insane state of mind. (1 Samuel 28) Although chosen by God, the decisions in his life had left him bereft of any comforts from God. The harp of David was the only relief that would bring respite from his evil spirits. Yet, the jealousy and envy of Saul drove even this moment of peace out of his presence, as if David was the most heinous of enemies. The silence that remained drove the venerable monarch to fits of fear, paranoia, and agony. Certainly, Saul had his advisors and all the daily comforts that a monarch of his time would be privileged to enjoy, but the silence from God began to plague his every moment.
The age before Saul ruled Israel as king was the period of the Judges. Israel had broken God’s covenant time and again. Egregious atrocities, on par with that of Sodom and Gomorrah, were enacted by God’s chosen people against God’s chosen people. (Judges 18-21) Losing sight that the true cause of their depravity came from their own disobedience, Israel rejected God as king. They pressed Samuel, God’s own devoted servant, to participate in the coup d’état. (1 Samuel 8) Samuel’s mournful words depict his deep well of sorrow and grief at such an assault against God, who had given so much to his people. Samuel’s unbroken line of trust in God brought him onto a conversation, where he was comforted and told to grant the request. Even considering the great suffering that God said would come about from this decision, Israel plunged headlong to be baptized with the waters that would “make them like the nations around them.” Saul, son of Kish, is given the dubious honor of being Israel’s first earthly king. Such promise and such distinction, Saul stood head and shoulders above the rest. The heights of his beginning make the downward spiral of his life so much more heartbreaking. On the day of his death this once obvious leader was brought to emotional and physical collapse. The only response from God... silence.
The integral component to experience peace and tranquility becomes a torrent of chaos waters, a deafening roar, when it emanates from heavenly realms. Israel, after 430 years of silence under Egyptian captivity, cried out to God under their heavy burden. (Exodus 3) After the 400 years of silence between the testaments, all of creation groaned out in eager anticipation for the voice of the Lord. In the moment of his deepest despair, the full weight of Saul’s disobedience comes crashing down all around him, as the quiet somber silence of heaven fills his ears. His agonizing denouement is yet a deeper dive into the tumultuous chaos of his disobedience. As he drinks once again from water that cannot quench, he consults a medium only to reaffirm the choices of his fallen path. His last unearthly revelation is that of his ultimate defeat.
The last prophet had laid down his pen, and the time grew near for God to speak again. The oppression of the beast with iron teeth, prophesied by Daniel, (Daniel 7) was so heavy that it appeared as if the dark waters of chaos, that once swallowed up the entire world, would once again swallow up God’s creation. Seleucid, Hasmonean, Maccabean, Roman. The names of oppression and respite became mixed and confused, as each successive power tried their hand at kingship. The war-torn age between the testaments was anything but peaceful.
It had been 400 years since God had last spoken, and the ensuing silence had grown to a deafening roar, far more discomforting than anything man could imagine. Like the time of Saul, the people of God, the people of all of creation, were about to experience a new age. The new king, God himself, was coming to enter creation. Unlike Saul, this king was born to poor parents; the only attendants were a few shepherds and wise men from the east. His first bed,.. a trough for feeding barn animals. As if unable to hold their silence any longer, angels burst out in heaven and sang the glory of God... but only the humblest of his creation were there to witness the heavenly chorus. One single star to mark the place of the birth of the savior. As king Saul spiraled downward through disobedience, Jesus spiraled upward through obedience.
Like Saul, Jesus at the end of his life is found emotionally and physically on the verge of collapse. However, the line of unbroken trust served to let the creator bear the entire weight of all the disobedient choices of creation. Saul fell under the weight of his own disobedience. Christ carried the weight of all disobedience, and through his obedience he stood. Once again, the sad somber silence of heaven gripped all of creation. The full weight bore down on the savior, and the consequences of every selfish act, every murder, every perversion, and every sin threatened to crush the righteous prophet and king. Jesus prays, not my will but thine be done. God’s will... redemption.