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Why did Saul build himself a monument?

Why did Saul build a monument?
The story of how God took the kingdom away from Saul after He had told him to completely destroy the Amalekites and all that they had is quite familiar. Saul had obeyed partially, keeping some of the spoil for himself, much to God’s annoyance. Therefore, on hearing a recent sermon where the preacher narrated this incident, I was intrigued by a perspective I had not seen before.
Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.” (1 Samuel 15:12)
After Saul had disobeyed God, Samuel was angry and had spent the whole night crying out to God. He got up early in the morning to look for Saul, presumably to confront him about his behaviour. He got to Gilgal, enquired about Saul’s whereabouts and was informed that Saul had gone to Carmel to set up a monument in his own honour. My initial reaction was – is that really in the bible?
Saul built himself a monument after disobeying God? But why? Monuments are built to memorize greatness. Many countries of the world have monuments and they depict important people who have achieved greatness on behalf of their nation. Monuments call attention to the great accomplishments of a person. Whenever I visit a country where monuments are a major landmark, there is an explanation of what that particular person has done, so I get to appreciate their contribution a little bit more.
So back to Saul. God had shared with Samuel the prophet his disappointment with Saul. To Samuel’s surprise he was told that Saul had gone to Gilgal to set up a monument for himself. Was the monument in recognition of the fact that he had destroyed the Amalekites or the fact that he was the first king of Israel or the fact that he was a ruler over thousands of people and women had been singing his praises.
Whatever it was, Saul built a monument because had assumed a position of power, authority and greatness. It would have been a taste of success that contributed to his desire to build a monument. This is in stark contrast to the first appearance of Saul in scripture. We know that Saul had been humble when he was initially called. You can almost describe him as the humble and reluctant king.
Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” (1 Samuel 10:22-23)
Whilst we do not know how Saul got to the stage where he built himself a monument, what we do know is that there is a lesson for us as believers. It might be a subtle change that occurs over a period of time as God uses us and we become more important than we ought to be. There is a subtle danger that comes with gaining authority and we need to be mindful of this and not assume that it cannot happen to us.
God resists the proud which is what Saul had become. His ego was inflated. Let’s remember Jesus’ warning that we are to be servants to the people. Let’s continue to have the attitude of a servant and remain humble. Let’s be aware of the subtle draw of pride. God has promised to give grace to the humble and lift us up (James 4:6). It may well be that we need to ask God for the grace to keep us humble. This might just be a useful prayer to pray.
So until I appear again in your inbox with more insight from the scriptures, stay blessed

About the Author: Ola Aroyehun

Ola Aroyehun editor of The Christian Business and Professional Magazine: a magazine dedicated to helping Christians apply biblical principles to their professional lives.

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