The basic thrust of the message of the Bible is one – either we trust in Christ’s works, or we trust in ours. Creation, by which the Word of God is first preached (Psalm 19) and by the Word that it was given life, gives us its first testimony of this interceding Word between the Father and adam. Yet, the story of adam, of man, embodied and manifested in the one head Adam, is that of rebellion against God in the form of righteousness gained by works. In the form of security gained by one’s own hands. The message seems just too simple – yet it is entirely universal and deeply ingrained in our depravity. Where Jesus fellowshipped with us (Genesis 3:8) in the garden which we did not contribute to create (c.f. Genesis 2:15 – we were placed there after being created from the dust beyond the garden), we find instead man time and time again building the towers of Babylon; golden calves; delighting in burnt offerings where the law points not to Christ but to oneself. (c.f. Romans 3:31) It is by faith that the law is fulfilled – as the law points to necessary faith in Christ. To obey the law without faith is to deny the purpose of the law as inherently Christological and not a Christless anthropology.
By heeding Samuel’s advice (1 Samuel 10:8), it would appear that this is a common practice of Saul’s to wait seven days – the time appointed by Samuel. It is therefore on the eighth day that Samuel is to perform this peace and burnt offering before Saul – for what purpose except to preach that Christ is to rise on the eighth day of the week, the third day after Friday and one day after the Passover which is on the seventh day of the week? It is to point to that Sacrificial Lamb Who leads us to victory. Even when all men are trembling, when they head to the direction away from the heart of the Promised Land to the rocky regions of Gilead; even when they hide in holes, rocks, tombs and cisterns; they are desperately seeking solace but to no avail. They are running away from the Philistines who are hidden (Michmash) in the ease of the house of nothingness – of the house of idols (Bethaven). What irony that this consolidated group of enemies was once conquered by Israel through Yeshua (Joshua 11:4-9), and yet Saul could not similarly succeed for Israel. What irony that Israel, the descendants of the great Abraham through whom the LORD promised his children to be as many as “sand on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17) is now threatened by a rampant murderous nation which is joined to destroy God’s people.
Their only hope then, truly, is in Saul – the king whom they have appointed as a symbolic displacement of the Father’s, His Anointed’s, and the Spirit’s roles as their joint Saviour. If the nation, and Saul, fears the LORD and serves Him and obeys His voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, it will be well (chapter 12:14).
Yet, Saul utterly fails them. Saul, like Adam, being the head of the church, is a poor representative. By the sin of one man did the entire nation fall; by the sin of one man did entire mankind fall (Romans 5:19). Samuel asks him, “What have you done?” (v.11) – and like Adam who blamed God for the woman whom God gave to Adam, so Saul blames it on Samuel. Yet, although Saul was still at Gilgal (v.7) – it did not mean that he was any more faithful than those who were hiding in the tombs typifying the death they are to receive. Rather, his acts truly expressed the heart of the nation – a godless nation trying to be priesthood. Adam, eating the fruit and having his eyes opened and trying to be the Priest of the Garden but forgetting that Jesus is the true life-sustainer and gardener (John 20:15), and that he is but a steward.
The words of Samuel are profound: “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD had commanded you” (v.13-14). Whether we see Saul as the manifestation of the physical church Israel, or even more so as the old adam through whom we are all cursed with death, these words ring true as if words spoken directly to the first man in the edenic garden. If Adam had kept God’s commandment to refrain from eating of the tree of good and evil, then his kingdom would have continued. But would it really? Scores of theologians have questioned whether Adam would have lived forever had he not eaten of that fruit; others have wondered if Adam was under the covenant of works or covenant of faith. However, there is one firm reality – that he was made in the image of God, and the true image of God before creation has always been God the Son (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; Romans 8:29). If there is one image to conform, it is not simply that of Adam pre-fall, but that of Christ. God had chosen Christ to be the head of all creation before Adam (Genesis 1:1 c.f. Hebrew be-resh-it – in the Head, arche, in the LORD – Jesus Christ); God had chosen Christ to be the mediator of all creation before Adam (Isaiah 42:1); God the Father already had a Father-Son dynamic with Christ before Adam, making Adam technically his second son. Put simply, Adam, Saul, David – none of them were ever truly men after God’s heart; none of them were the prototypical image of God, or even king. Only Christ was sought out; only Christ had the Father’s heart; only Christ was commanded and that He obeyed His Father before Genesis 1. Christ was never a plan B.
This is why ever since chapter 8 is the omen that neither Saul, nor David, are the true men after God’s heart. Indeed, David does bear that title – a man after God’s heart – but he is not the man after God’s heart. David has not yet been sought out at this stage – and even more so, has not yet been commanded to be prince over his people (v.14). David is not even in the frame of the story in 1 Samuel 13! Samuel is instead speaking of Jesus – because He is the subject of the righteous deeds in chapter 12, and that He is the only one who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18 – KJV translation) and thus truly knows his Father’s heart to obey His will and to be the archetypal prince of his people – spiritual Israel. Thus, Adam, Saul, David, even you – are made in the image of the Father, made to be like Christ. Yet, it is in David that this typology is seen at its height, for he conforms himself in Spirit to Christ that the whole of Israel is also typologically exalted to display temporarily what a new creation kingdom would look like. It is important to remember however that no matter how successful Israel, David, or Solomon became, these are all but shadows – because the true temple has always been residing in heaven (c.f. Numbers 8:4; Hebrews 8:5), and through Israel are these eternal truths expressed most clearly in the form of understandable shadows. Israel should have never trusted in their kings, nor judges – but in the One who brought them out of Egypt.
And so this chapter ends on a bittersweet note – we have Jonathan, the great friend of David, alongside his father. Both of them are the only men of Israel, only six hundred of whom have survived (or have stayed with Saul) from the previous onslaught and now they are clearly surrounded with enemies (v.16-18). What they need is a good spiritual Head to lead them through these trials, and yet the chapter ends with setting itself for a possible massacre for the Israelites: the large numbers of men with their superior weaponry against a tired and disobedient king. It would seem that Jonathan is the only one who will conquer by faith that God is the one who is victorious on our behalf.