“As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!” (1 Sam. 20:31)
Who will be in charge? Who will rule? This is the question put to us by this verse. This exchange happens between Saul and Jonathon, Saul’s son and presumptive heir to the throne. They both understand that kingship is at stake yet have responded in entirely different ways: Saul sought David’s life while Jonathon loved David as himself (1 Sam. 18:1).Galatians 5:17 says, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict….” We can see this conflict embodied in Saul and David: Saul illustrates the sinful nature, that which rejects God’s word and refuses to yield control even when shown that God has anointed and given rule to another. David shows us to whom God has given that rule—Christ, the Son of David. Saul and David co-existed for a time, David fighting on Saul’s behalf and gaining victories for him. The enmity was latent, unknown to either, until it became a question of who would be king. Then conflict came exploding into the open, Saul flying into sudden, murderous rages. Our flesh, too, may co-exist with Christ peaceably enough, as long as Jesus is a benefit and helps us overcome those things we are willing to let Him conquer. But should Jesus make any gesture toward actually ruling us, we unravel and plunge into ugly reactions as we storm to hold onto what was never ours.
It is a fearful thing to read about Saul and to see Saul within. How can such an intractable, God-hating enemy as self ever be unseated? There is hope in Saul’s very words to Jonathon: “As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established.” Saul thought he was pronouncing a death sentence on David but it was actually on himself and the rule of self symbolized by him. For Hebrews says, “Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him….” (Heb. 7:24, 25). As long as Jesus lives—and He lives forever—neither self nor its rule can be established. Even if it appears Jesus has been run out of town—as when Saul hunted David—He will eventually bring us under His government through the power of His indestructible life (Heb. 7:16).