by Ray Hughes
Those of us involved in music ministry or who consider ourselves to be worship leaders most often try to identify with the life of David. Many times I have been put into the position of trying to minister and counsel creative people who feel they have been treated unjustly or misunderstood by those in leadership who they consider to be a Saul in their life. We are so given to this idea of singing the songs of David and upholding the creative and musical world of David that we sometimes fail to see that there can be some Saul in us all. I would like for us to consider the song of Saul’s life here so that we can learn from the good and avoid the bad. For after all, Saul was a king anointed by God too. And as we can see in I Samuel 10, Saul had a prophetic song to sing even before David did.
There are four ingredients that make up the structure of a song that can also be applied to the four ingredients that make up a life. This principle relates to Saul’s life as well as our own. Just as in a song, we all have an introduction or call. We also have a verse that typically embodies the lyrical content and imagery and prepares us for the day of our chorus to be sung or our course to be run. This culminates in our finale or the way in which we finish our life song. If you think of Saul’s life as an opera, it would certainly be a triumph turned to tragedy.
There is no debating that young Saul had all of the qualities and characteristics needed for such a position as king over God’s chosen people. Scripture shows us that he was modest and humble; he was generous and full of love. Saul was considerate of his father and full of courage. He even carried a great repulsion for evil and impurity.
In addition to all of his godly characteristics, he was an extremely good-looking man who stood heads above the rest. Everything about him, even down to his looks, commanded respect and honor. He was made for the job.
Besides his appearance and his character, there are some special things that God equipped him with when he became king. First of all, God gave him another heart so that he became another man (I Samuel 10:6,9). The Spirit of God actually came upon him so that he prophesied (I Samuel 10:10). These things tell us that Saul became completely renewed on the inside and was operating under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And that isn’t all! He was given a band of men whose hearts God had touched. He also had the trusty prophet counselor, Samuel, at his side. God also gave Saul respect and notoriety at the beginning of his reign by giving a spectacular military victory which gave the people great confidence in their new king.
When God first told Samuel the prophet of His intention to give Israel a king, Samuel immediately sent for Saul to receive this anointing. When Saul learned that he was God’s choice for king over Israel, he was overwhelmed and insisted that he was not qualified for the job. God had to prove His word to Saul before he would accept the call. This was simply the beginning of an incredible drama that still challenges us today. If Saul was God’s anointed king, Israel’s leader, and the man of the hour,what went wrong? How did Saul’s life come to end in such dramatic tragedy? And what can we learn today from his glorious rise and dreadful fall?
So he was physically and supernaturally equipped, as well as anointed king over God’s people. This was a spectacular opportunity for a spectacular young man. He was put in a position to magnificently cooperate with God’s will. What an opportunity he had been given to be used of God and to bless men. Saul had no symptoms of vanity and self-glory, which typically betray us when we are suddenly exalted to such a position.
It was a shock to everyone when his first major mistake occurred very early in his career. It was a severe act of disrespectful and wicked presumption (I Samuel 13.) The Philistines had come against Israel. Saul was told to wait for Samuel at Gilgal. When Samuel didn’t show up in what he considered to be fast enough, Saul, in his impatience, violated the priesthood and foolishly presumed to offer sacrifices to the Lord with his own hand. Saul’s anxiety is understandable, but anxiety should never give us permission to violate obedience to the voice and Word of God.
Later Samuel rebuked him saying, Saul, thou has done foolishly: Thou hast not kept the commandment of Jehovah.(I Samuel 13:13). How many times have irreverent presumption and just plain old impatience robbed us of God’s best in fulfilling our God ordained positions in ministry? This seems to be especially true among those who appear to carry all of those noble and attractive qualities like Saul did. Those who have many talents and gifts from the Lord are known to have more of the negative traits of Saul as well.
The next fault we see arise in him was an act of impulsive and reckless willfulness. God had used Jonathan to spread confusion among the Philistines. Israel’s watchman reported what they saw, so Saul called the priest to ask God’s guidance. But before they were able to bring wisdom and counsel as to what should be done, Saul ignorantly and impatiently rushed his men off into battle without a sure word. He also rashly imposed a death sentence on any man who should eat food that day (verse 24). The result was that his starving men were too weak to carry out the victory (verse 30) and ended up in sin by eating flesh with the blood (verse 32). Jonathan even came under the death sentence and was only rescued by the intervention of the people (verses 27 and 45). Basically, Saul panicked, did not hear a clear word from God and the results were devastating.
In I Samuel 15 came an even greater failure. It is a mixture of disobedience and deceit. When Saul was told to utterly destroy the Amalekites, he spared the king and the best livestock. And instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he attempted to throw the blame on the people. When that didn’t work, he lied and pretended that this unsanctified spoil was for a sacrifice to God. Samuel had to rebuke him again with a reminder of, When thou was little in thine own sight.(I Samuel 15:17), he was implying that humility had now given place to arrogance. Samuel saw right through Saul’s sham and declared, you did not obey. You have rejected the word of God.(I Samuel 15: 26). Sooner or later arrogance always takes its toll and leads to error and ultimately a rejection of the Word of God. From this point on we see a steep decline for Saul.
In I Samuel 16:14 we see that the Spirit of the lord departed from Saul,and, an evil spirit troubled him. He gave way to a petty jealousy until it became hate and malice against David. We see that his rejection of the Word of God truly became the paramount issue in his life. He knew that, in seeking to slay David, he was actually fighting against God. He eventually admitted in I Samuel 24:20, I know well that thou shalt surely be king. Yet, even after this, he resumed his bloodthirsty pursuit. Saul had come a long way from the day he received his new heartto now having murder in his heart.
The last tragic act in this man’s mournful drama is found in chapters 28-31. You find him with the witch of Endor. Only now he is no longer the handsome, young, gifted, anointed man. He is now an embittered and desolate-hearted fugitive. He is a wreck of a man who once enjoyed direct counsel from Heaven, who had been given a new heart, a new song, a company of prophets and godly counsel. But now he is listening to the voices of the underworld. So the finale of his song is a final plunge into witchcraft and suicide. At his own admission he said, I have played the fool(I Samuel 26:21). We must ask how a man can come from such heights of glory to such depths of despair. How did he go from the songs of the prophets and the new heart to the dirge of despair and death?
The Moral of the Story
If we were to take this tragic opera and attempt to capture the complexities of his life, I am sure that we would hear some sad and awesome tones. However, I feel that even his song, as sad as it is, could be one of sweet redemption if we will today heed the lessons that he so aptly teaches. When we consider it fully, Saul started off with far greater promise and possibilities than even David did. Saul had everything David had and much more. We see that they were not so different in their capacity to sin either. David was full of his own fleshly lusts and pride and deceit. We find the key difference between the heart of Saul and the heart of David was not in their actions, but in their responses. Where Saul would make excuses, David would repent. When Saul would try to hide his wicked actions, David would confess. When Saul would act impetuously, David would wait patiently for the Lord. When Saul became jealous of his successor, David responded by supplying his successor with everything he would need to fulfill his destiny.
Obedience to the Will of God
We are all called and equipped to kingship through Jesus. Just as Saul, David, and Solomon, we are called to a theocratic kingship. This means that we have been anointed to execute the will of God and not our own. Just like them, we can only rule to the extent that we obey the Lord who rules above us. Saul and David’s worst enemies were always themselves. Saul’s song of fools teaches us that to sing of self will be our gravest mistake. David’s song of broken and desperate praise shows us that to focus our life’s actions and responses on God’s glory will be our only hope.
We need to acknowledge that these king’s character traits are potentially in us all. We will all be confronted with these things like envy, anxiety, strife, pride, presumption, impatience, fear and willfulness in our own lives. It is our response to them and to God that will distinguish our songs from being a song of Saul or a song of David.
Upon Saul’s tragic death, David grieved and wrote a song mourning over, How the mighty have fallen. (II Samuel 1:19). I pray that we will all take the time to really consider Saul and David—How the mighty have fallen through pride, and How the mighty were able to stand by humility.
School of Worship
NOTE FROM PAUL KEITH: Over the last several months we have been receiving words from the Lord through prophetic utterances, dreams, visions and other affirmations, establishing a spiritual partnership with Ray Hughes and his team. This was further affirmed through the conferences that we did together both in Idaho and Shreveport, Louisiana. We are not certain exactly what this will look like, but we have agreed to support one another with common vision and purpose and pursue the Lord to further define this relationship.
Ray has recently transitioned from North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee with a mandate to establish a school of worship. We have been amazed at the insight imparted to Ray involving Tabernacle of Davidworship and are excited to announce through this forum the beginning of this fresh and new day for Ray and his team. The following outline is a brief introduction to his school.
Selah School of Worship
You were created to be creative. You were created to be a warrior, focused, fearless, passionate, full of vision and wisdom, prophetic, healed, full of revelation and truth, a servant, extravagant, anointed, a leader, a hero of faith. Yes, you were created for such a time as thisto do great exploits for the Kingdom. You were created to worship!
NOW IS THE TIME to violently take the Kingdom.
NOW IS THE TIME for your creative nature to experience release & expression.
NOW IS THE TIME to allow the Creator to transform you daily into His image.
NOW IS THE TIME to start living life with passion and purpose.
NOW IS THE TIME to worship.
Ray Hughes, founder of Selah Ministries, has been in full-time ministry for 32 years. His landmark teachings unfolding the Tabernacle of David and the reality of praise and worship have revolutionized the way we approach the subject and the throne room. The Selah School of creative and prophetic worship was planted in the hearts of Ray and Denise over 20 years ago. The staff of skilled teachers, counselors and worship leaders, as well as the strategically chosen guest speakers and worship leaders, feel that they have been prepared and chosen for such a time as thisand for such a work as this. Now is the time to worship!
The Selah School’s revolutionary curriculum encompasses practical and spiritual equipping for leading and living the life of prophetic worship through music, art, drama, writing, dance and whatever your God-given creative expression may be.
At the Selah School we will explore and experience the power of:
- Spirit and truth worship
- Biblical spiritual warfare
- Ultimate Freedom
- David’s Tabernacle
- The Science of Sound
- Fearless Creativity
- True Prophetic
- Spiritual Disciplines
- The Selah Ministry
- Total Acceptance
- Complete Intimacy with our Longing God
- And much, much more
The 90-day intensive training period will also include a life-changing two-week outreach to stretch and release each student into levels of anointing, authority and servanthood they have never experienced.
Watch our website (www.selahministries.com) for more information on the Selah School and to learn how you can enroll today.