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Your kingdom shall not continue

In this sad incident, King Saul is rebuked by Samuel for his presumption in offering sacrifice in Gilgal. The punishment is stern indeed, for Saul has shown himself to be inconsiderate of the holiness of Yahweh, and indifferent of the precision with which He must be approached:
"For now (if you had been faithful in this one instance) Yahweh would have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever... But now thy kingdom shall not continue..." (1Sa 13:13,14).

By Samuel's pronouncement, Saul remains king, but his kingdom is not to continue -- that is, his descendants will not rule over Israel. (In a later sentence, because of a further sin, even Saul himself is rejected as the anointed king -- 1Sa 15:23,26.)

These verses present a difficulty, which may be stated thus: Seeing that the kingship of the twelve tribes was prophetically given already to Judah (Gen 49:10), how could Saul of Benjamin be promised a continuing dynasty? To assert that God knew the end from the beginning, and therefore would deliberately promise something which His own previous pronouncements had made an impossibility, is not a sufficient answer. Even admitting that the Almighty foreknew Saul's failure and rejection, it is not in keeping with His character of justice that He would make even a conditional promise that He could not possibly fulfill. Doing this would in effect nullify the promise even as it was given, putting the burden of certain failure upon any person with the least discernment.

However, there is at least one way in which, had he been faithful, Saul's kingdom might have continued and Judah might have ruled over his brethren also: Remember that David of Judah, after his conquest of Goliath, was virtually "adopted" into the family of Saul, and promised the hand in marriage of his eldest daughter Merab (1Sa 17:25; 18:17). For some reason (probably jealousy of David) Saul was to give Merab to another man (18:19), but David still became the son-in-law of the king in marrying the younger Michal (v 27). And Jonathan, in one of the most selfless acts ever recorded anywhere, transferred his garments (the tokens of royalty?) to David (v 4), thereby acknowledging his "brother's" right to the throne.

It is easy, therefore, to imagine that, had Saul been faithful (or even had he at long last repented wholeheartedly of his sins), his kingdom and lineage might still have been established forever in the royal union of David and Michal. Then the grandsons of Saul and all their later generations would have been as much Saul's seed as Christ was in days to come the seed of David -- that is, through his mother!

But, significantly, the jealous and proud Michal -- always her father's daughter -- "had no child unto the day of her death" (2Sa 6:23): like Saul, a complete failure! Of both father and daughter it may be said, with justice and propriety, as of others:

"Write them childless... for no man of their seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah" (Jer 22:30).
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