Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Break out your maps and histories as we travel again in our time machine to examine history & geography through a Biblical worldview. Time for us to walk through the early days of the Israelite monarchy,
which is estimated to have begun with the anointing of Saul as king in approximately 1049 BC. Saul became the first king of Isreal after the people pestered God, through Samuel, to give them a king. This is a prime example of ‘be careful what you ask for’. Prior to Saul’s reign, the nation of Isreal had been a theocracy. God was their king, but they wanted an earthly king and that is what they got.
We will look at the first forty years of what is called the united kingdom when all the nation of Israel was under one king. The united kingdom actually had three kings; Saul, David, and Solomon from 1049 BC to 933 BC. There were failed attempts by others to take the monarchy as it passed from one king to another, however only three were anointed as king. Saul’s reign started when Samuel tracked him down in the tribe of Benjamin.
David was born in 1039 BC so he was probably around 12 or 13 when Saul battled the Philistines (as recorded in 1 Sam: 13-14) around 1021 BC, and the Amalekites (chapter 15 of 1 Sam) around 1020 BC. I will be referring to most of the dates during Saul’s reign as estimates because there are very few dates actually mentioned in the biblical text and other writings that mention Saul.
Saul had a falling out with Samuel when he failed to follow the Lord’s command to destroy Amalek shortly before the time when David was anointed king to suceed him. The events of 1 Samuel 16 and 17 can be confusing. The sequence is realy unimportant, David anointed, playing the lyre for Saul, and killing Goliath, probably all happened close together around 1019 BC. Whether busy king Saul knew David or not when he offered to fight Goliath is of no real consequence to the historic narrative.
As Saul’s spirit was tormented, his disposition toward David soured. Saul tried to get rid of David on the battlefield but ended up awarding him his daughter, Michal, as his wife around 1016 BC. David flees from Saul’s persecution in around 1015 BC and spends the remaining years of Saul’s reign a hunted man. In the last 16 months of Saul’s reign David acted as a mercenary for the Philistine king Achish.
Most of Saul’s sons die with him on the battlefield in around 1009 BC. Though his surviving son Eshbaal (or Ishbosheth), who was born in 1045 BC, was made king by Abner in 1005 BC he was never recognized as the King of all Israel and was never anointed. When Ishbosheth was assassinated in 1003 BC, Abner acknowledged David as king over all Isreal.
So that wraps up Saul’s 40 years. Next month we will look at David’s reign from 1009 BC to 969 BC.