The day King Saul tried to play God. Lessons for Boris Johnson.


Does it matter if Boris Johnson, MPs and staff had drinks parties after passing a law prohibiting social gatherings?

Whatever we think about the effectiveness of the law itself, Boris breached a principle which was agreed in this land over 400 years ago; no one is above the law (Lex Rex). At the time the nation agreed on this principle, after a bloody civil war, the law in mind was the law of God and any laws derived from God’s word.

When human rulers place themselves above the law and make laws without reference to God’s law, social and moral chaos ensues. King Saul is a prime example.

Saul was the first human king of Israel. He was an impetuous, rash and foolish man. Saul showed us what evil human rulers can do when left to their own devices.

King Saul made a short term law for his soldiers. The law was applied to a situation, for a day. It was a temporary ban, not to eat anything. The law had no reason behind it and Saul chose not to listen to God. He exercised the divine right of kings to command people to obey him, upon pain of a curse.

The structure and language of the narrative in 1 Samuel 13 and 14 closely mirrors the structure of Genesis chapters 2 and 3.

  1. Who made the law?

    In Genesis chapter 2, God finished creating everything, then he made a law. (Genesis 2:17) – Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil or you shall die (be executed – mot tamut).

Saul copied God by making a similar law – Do not eat. Whoever eats will be under a curse (1 Samuel 14:24).

  1. Who did not hear the law?

    In the Garden of Eden, Eve was not there when God made the law, but it is clear from her conversation with the serpent that Adam had told her the law.

Jonathan was not there when his dad, Saul, made the law not to eat and no one bothered to tell him.

  1. Who broke the law? And how did they break it?

    Eve saw the fruit of the tree, she reached out, took the fruit, ate it and her eyes were opened (Genesis 3:6-7).

Jonathan saw honey on the tree, he reached out, took the honey, ate it and his eyes brightened. (1 Samuel 14:27). [Note that the land was quite literally flowing with honey, another reminder of the faithfulness of God]

  1. What was the penalty for breaking the law?

    God announced the penalty for breaking the law in in the Garden of Eden. What was the penalty? DEATH by execution. The words in Hebrew are ‘mot tamut’.

Saul announced that he would execute anyone who had broken his rule not to eat. 1 Samuel 14:37

The language Saul used was exactly the same as the language God used in the Garden of Eden. You will surely die, or die you will die, or I will execute you.

So Saul not only ignored God, he tried to be God, he copied the way God ruled without listening to God.

  1. Who showed mercy?

    In the Garden of Eden, God showed Adam and Eve mercy. When Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed them BUT he did not execute them.

When Saul found out that Jonathan had broken the law, Saul was ready to execute his son. 1 Samuel 14:44 – May God deal with me ever so severely if you do not die, Jonathan.

God had shown Adam and Eve mercy and God promised that Eve’s descendant would crush Satan and sort out the broken law.

God excluded Adam and Eve from his garden and gave them a suspended death sentence until Christ took the death penalty on the cross

Romans 3:25

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.

The LORD gave Israel the king they wanted and deserved. Boris Johnson is the PM we wanted and deserve. The appointment of kings or rulers who ignore God, make laws without consideration of God’s word, and who place themselves above the law, should draw us to Christ. He is suffering Saviour and loving Lord. When we all are willing to place ourselves under his rule and to show mercy, as God did, whilst He resolved the matter for our good, social and moral chaos is replaced with order, peace and rest.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
This entry was posted in Grace Builders, Grace in Eden, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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