We have with us today a special guest, Mark Matthews. Together we discuss Israel’s desire for a king and Saul’s rise to the position, and how he loses his way. We also discuss the story of David facing Goliath and how it can represent much more than we often think about.

Mark Mathews

Mark Mathews has served as a teacher in the Church Educational System for working full-time for the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion and part-time as an adjunct BYU religion professor. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in marriage and family studies from Brigham Young University and a PhD in education from Utah State University. He and his wife Mandy live in Brigham City, Utah with their five children.


Samuel has been a powerful leader and prophet in Israel, but now he is getting old, and his sons do not walk in his ways, but have turned aside for lucre and take bribes and pervert judgment. The people come to Samuel and complain that since his sons walk not in his ways, they want a king.

1 Sam. 8

¶ But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.

And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the avoice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have brejected me, that I should not creign over them.

Why would the people want a king “like all nations”? Why would the Lord suggest that it was a rejection of Him? A covenant people should regard Him as their king. Did the elders of Israel see it as politically expedient?

What counsel did the Lord give about their turning to a king?

12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to aear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

13 And he will take your daughters to be aconfectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

15 And he will take the atenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your aking which ye shall have bchosen you; and the Lord will not chear you in that day.

19 ¶ Nevertheless the people refused to aobey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

This idea of what he will take is repeated again and again. His demands would be unfair and Israel would cry out and not be heard.

Why is it so difficult to find a king who has the good of the people in mind? Saul, David, Solomon—all turned out to follow the same trend.

Do you remember what George Washington’s response was when he was asked to be king? This speech is reflected in George Washington’s address when he refused to become king in America.

George on kingship:

“It is no coincidence, then, that Washington’s most important legacy comes during moments of temptation, when the lure of power was before him. Twice during the Revolution, in 1776 and again in 1777 when Congress was forced to abandon Philadelphia in the face of advancing British troops, Gen. Washington was granted virtually unlimited powers to maintain the war effort and preserve civil society, powers not unlike those assumed in an earlier era by Roman dictators. He shouldered the responsibility but gave the authority back as soon as possible.

“After the war, there were calls for Washington to claim formal political power. Indeed, seven months after the victory at Yorktown, one of his officers suggested what many thought only reasonable in the context of the 18th century: that America should establish a monarchy and that Washington should become king. A shocked Washington immediately rejected the offer out of hand as both inappropriate and dishonorable, and demanded the topic never be raised again.”


According to this legend, Washington rejected the overture and said that “I did not defeat King George III to become King George I.”.

George Washington resigns

“At the end of the Revolutionary War, many people in America and Europe thought Washington would retain the reins of power to become the leader of the new nation, or even king. When told by the American artist Benjamin West that Washington was going to resign, King George III of England said “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

“However, Washington had an abiding faith in the young nation and a deep desire to return to his beloved Mt. Vernon and private life as a farmer. Congress had assembled in Annapolis in late November and awaited the general’s arrival to resign his commission. He arrived on December 19 and immediately wrote to Congress to inquire as to how they actually wanted him to resign. A committee of Congress devised a ceremony that took place at noon on December 23. In the intervening days, Washington was feted with parties, balls and huzzas, including a gala ball on the night before the ceremony in the hall of the State House, where he danced with all the ladies.

“On the day of the ceremony, Washington arrived at the State House where Congress was meeting in the Old Senate Chamber. When he entered the Chamber, the members remained seated, covered (with their hats on). In a short, emotional speech, Washington resigned his commission and then bowed to Congress. Only then did the members rise and remove their hats in a gesture of respect. As he left the Chamber to ride to Mt. Vernon in time to have his Christmas dinner at home, Washington handed his personal copy of his speech to a member of the committee.”


The Book of Mormon talks about kings.

See Mosiah 29

11 Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let aus appoint bjudges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.

12 Now it is better that a man should be ajudged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.

13 Therefore, aif it were possible that you could have bjust men to be your kings, who would establish the claws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father dBenjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.

14 And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity;

15 And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I apunished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.

16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a aking or kings to rule over you.

17 For behold, how much ainiquity doth one bwicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!

18 Yea, remember king Noah, his awickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bbondage.

19 And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.

1 Sam. 9

Samuel looks for the king of Israel—led by the Lord

How can we describe Saul?

He was of the tribe of Benjamin.

He is on a journey to find his father’s lost asses, and is willing to travel far to find them.

They go to ask Samuel if he can show them the way to go to find the lost animals. He is going to inquire of God.

15 ¶ Now the aLord had btold Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,

16 To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt aanoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their bcry is come unto me.

17 And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.

18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is.

19 And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the aseer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to day, and to morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.

20 And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father’s house?

21 And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the aleast of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou bso to me?

Samuel will show him the will of the Lord.

1 Samuel 10

Saul is anointed to be “captain over his inheritance” Note that the Lord does not call him king.

He directs him where to find the asses.

Given a series of procedures. Will meet three men carrying three kids and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying wine.

He shall come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines, and shall meet a company of prophets coming down from a high place with pipe, and harp and they shall prophesy.

And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt aprophesy with them, and shalt be bturned into another man.

What does it mean that Saul will be turned into another man? What does it mean to be spiritually reborn? Is this the goal? Is this the essence of the gospel? How does it happen? We are made a new person when God’s spirit comes upon him.

¶ And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another aheart: and all those signs came to pass that day.

The change was so complete that he was able to prophesy, surprising those who had known him before.

What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? (v. 11)

People are called together at Mizpeh.

19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your aadversities and your btribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a cking over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands.

Saul hides.  

23 And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was ahigher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.

Samuel: There is none like him. “God save the king.”

1 Samuel 13

The Philistines are Israel’s enemies and great problem.

Chronology hard to read. Some years must have elapsed between his anointing and his coronation as king. He has reigned two years over Israel when a large battle ensures.

At Michmash, right in the center of the country.

Philistines had gathered 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen and the Israelites are terrified.

When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did ahide themselves in bcaves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.

As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. The shakiness of fledging Israelite state.

Philistines roused by the formation of an Israel state. They wanted to divide the tribes by taking the central hill country.

Saul acts foolishly.

And aSaul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he boffered the cburnt offering.

10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might asalute him.

11 ¶ And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I aforced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan:

Why did Saul offer the burnt offering?

1 Sam. 15

Destroy Amalek

Samuel to Saul:

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly adestroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

What Saul did instead:

But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

10 ¶ Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,

11 aIt brepenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.


JST 1 Sam. 15:11 I have set up Saul to be a king, and he repenteth not that he hath sinned, for he is …


The Hebrew root means “to sigh,” therefore “to feel sorrow.”

14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

Saul’s Flaw;

“Now unfolds a serious flaw in Saul’s leadership. Saul had begun his role as king as a model of humility; however, the increased attention given him helped him gain an exaggerated opinion of himself and his own importance. The problem with power is that once a person has it, he feels he must concentrate all his efforts on keeping it, or so it is widely believed. Worldly authority has a tendency to adopt an attitude that ecclesiastical authority is subordinate. This was the pitfall Saul fell into when he usurped priesthood authority in administering offerings in Samuel’s absence. This act of priestcraft, combined with other acts of disobedience, caused the kingdom to be removed from him.”

Verse by Verse, The Old Testament Vol. 1 & 2 by Andrew C. Skinner, D. Kelly Ogden

Contrast with King Benjamin:

19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to athank your heavenly bKing!

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the athanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and cpreserved you, and has caused that ye should drejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

21 I say unto you that if ye should aserve him who has created you from the beginning, and is bpreserving you from day to day, by lending you cbreath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own dwill, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your ewhole souls yet ye would be funprofitable servants.

Samuel to Saul:

17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord aanointed thee king over Israel?

What does he mean by being little in thine own sight? What is humility? Why can we learn better when we are “little in our own sight”. What does this mean in the face of the great self-esteem movement of our own day? Who is the Lord? “The glory of God is intelligence, or light and truth —a fulness of which can be obtained by mortal man only through obedience to eternal laws.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great adelight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the bvoice of the Lord? Behold, to cobey is better than dsacrificeand to hearken than the fat of erams.

Why is it better to obey than to sacrifice?

28 And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the akingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath bgiven it to a cneighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

1 Sam. 16:

Samuel is to anoint a new king.

He worries that Saul will seek his life.

And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord.

Samuel goes to Bethlehem and calls Jesse  and his sons to sacrifice.

thou shalt aanoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. (v.3)

All of these seven sons are being considered for king.

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord aseeth not as bman seeth; for man looketh on the outward cappearance, but the dLord looketh on the eheart.

What does it mean that the Lord looketh upon the heart? The Lord’s complete knowledge of us.

David is anointed.

11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a abeautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and aanointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the bSpirit of the Lord came upon cDavid from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

14 ¶ But the aSpirit of the Lord bdeparted from Saul, and an evil spirit cfrom the Lord troubled him.

What are the ramifications of losing the Spirit in one’s life? How about if an entire nation begins to lose the spirit?

Saul chooses David to play the harp for him because he is troubled.

David becomes his armourbearer.

23 And it came to pass, when the aevil spirit bfrom God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.


JST 1 Sam. 16:23 … which was not of God …

1 Sam. 17

David and Goliath story

Goliath from Gath is the champion of the Philistines.

Fate of the two armies was to be determined by the outcome of a single battle by two champions.

How tall was Goliath? 6 cubits and a span.

That would have been like 9 and half feet, but some scholars think he was 7.80 feet.

Weight of coat was 5,000 shekels of brass between his shoulders. This varies too from 78 to 178 pounds. At any rate we see that he is formidable.

And he had agreaves of brass upon his legs, and ba target of brass between his shoulders.

And the astaff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.

40 days he threatens Israel.

Goliath asked Israel to choose a man to represent them, and nobody stepped forward.

David not in battle but was running supplies to his brothers who were at the battle.

22 And David left his acarriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.

23 And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.

24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.

26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the aliving God?

33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a ayouth, and he a man of war from his youth.

34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

37 David said moreover, The Lord that adelivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will bdeliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

Goliath disdained David for he was a youth.

Comment: The Lord allowed the bear and the lion to come and threaten his flock. This experience readied David for more to come. The Lord tutors us line upon line for the work that He wants us to do.

David took five stones. Only needed the first one.

Describe sling.

45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the aname of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

47 And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the abattle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.

Spencer W. Kimball.

Now, my young brothers, remember that every David has a Goliath to defeat, and every Goliath can be defeated. He may not be a bully who fights with fists or sword or gun. He may not even be flesh and blood. He may not be nine feet tall; he may not be armor-protected, but every boy has his Goliaths. And every boy has his sling, and every boy has access to the brook with its smooth stones.

You will meet Goliaths who threaten you. Whether your Goliath is a town bully or is the temptation to steal or to destroy or the temptation to rob or the desire to curse and swear; if your Goliath is the desire to wantonly destroy or the temptation to lust and to sin, or the urge to avoid activity, whatever is your Goliath, he can be slain. But remember, to be the victor, one must follow the path that David followed:

“David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.”  1 Sam. 18:14

David had integrity and kept his father’s sheep. David did not leave his sheep without a caretaker when he filled another assignment from his father.

David was responsible. His sheep were in his hands; he killed the bear and he killed the lion to save his father’s sheep, even at great danger to himself. He took the little lamb out of the mouth of the beast and restored it to its mother. David took five stones to kill Goliath. He needed only one. David was honorable and had faith in his Heavenly Father, and he feared no man so long as he had the confidence of his Lord. He taunted the Philistine giant, saying, “You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield, with a coat of mail, with an armor bearer: But I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” (See  1 Sam. 17:45

Sometime ago I tore an advertisement from a current magazine. This is what it said:

“One time or another we all face adversity’s chilling wind. One man flees from it, and like an unresisting kite falls to the ground. Another yields no retreating inch, and the wind that would destroy him lifts him as readily to the heights. We are not measured by the trials we meet, only by those we overcome.

“The pipeline ad read, “Neither rivers, mountains nor ocean waters stop our pipeline crews. What they can’t go through, they go over, under, or around.” (Spencer W. Kimball The Davids and Goliaths” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1974/10/the-davids-and-the-goliaths?lang=eng)

1 Sam. 18

David and Jonathan made a covenant of friendship.

Saul sets David over the men of war and was accepted in the sight of all people.

Women came out chanting:

And the women answered one another as they played, and said, aSaul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?

And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

David was wise in all his ways and the Lord was with him.

Saul upset unto murder because all of Israel loved David.