Saul, David, and Solomon: The United Monarchy Rises, Then Falls

by charlestinsley

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel tell the story of the formation of Israel’s United Monarchy under the rule of kings. Israel had previously been led by judges who proved to be a bit less than desirable, and they were hungry for a change. Samuel’s age would prove the opportunity for the people of Israel to request a king and begin a new style of government to be more like the other nations[1]. They would go from Saul to David in a quest for unification that would ultimately meet its division by Solomon’s sin. Following the time of the judges, the people of Israel sought to be ruled by a king, received kings such as Saul and David, but ultimately watched the monarchy divide by Solomon’s actions.

The time of the judges was full of corruption. Where Samuel had proven to be an effective judge, his lineage of sons proved to be corrupt and rebellious[2]. As Samuel aged, the people of Israel approached him asking for a United Monarchy to be seen over by a king. As The Bible states: “They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’”[3] When Samuel prayed to God with the people’s request, God made known to Samuel that Samuel was not the one being rejected, the people of Israel were rejecting God as their king[4].

The people of Israel decided on Saul to lead them. To be clear, Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin as opposed to Judah which was the promised messianic tribe[5]. The people of Israel were more interested with how Saul looked and they were less interested in where his heart was[6]. Because of this, it can be said that Saul’s selection was an act of rebellion against God and God’s wishes for His people. Had they relied on God as opposed to themselves, perhaps Saul would have never led them and never led them down the path he did. Saul was rebellious against God and was disobedient in following the divine command of exterminating the Amalekites and was rejected by God[7]. Ultimately, Saul led his kingdom into deterioration[8] and failed miserably as a king.

Enter God’s choice. David would become the next king of Israel and reflect the opposite of what Saul represented. David achieved a victory over Goliath of Gath in Elah which demonstrated his boldness in contrast to Saul’s unwillingness to fight[9]. Saul would become so consumed by jealousy of David’s popularity that he attempted to kill David who was protected by the work of Saul’s own son: Jonathan[10]. Ultimately, David feared God and sought God’s guidance in leading Israel. David was also much shorter in stature and from the tribe of Judah. Interesting to note is that when David found out someone had killed Saul, he ordered to murderer to be executed[11].  David would unite Israel as the king of all Israel following the death of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth[12].

Israel had finally received a United Monarchy, not with their chosen leader, but with God’s chosen leader. In 1 Kings, The Bible begins with a presentation of the united kingdom under Solomon[13]. While Solomon did many great things, he ultimately fell into sin’s temptation. Solomon committed proliferation of wives and that turned him wholeheartedly away from God, which caused the united kingdom to divide[14].

The story of the United Monarchy’s formation, and ultimately its division, speaks to the nature of man. Most significant is man’s impatience and lack of trust in God. Through the selection of Saul, man shows how pride gets in the way of what God wants for His creation. Through David, God revealed His will for Israel and through Solomon, man can see how sin can bring even the best ruler to disaster. The United Monarchy was a concept that showed man’s rejection of God, but God never turned His back on Israel while He made sure they learned the difference between His will and their own. Ultimately, God should be the only king man needs.


[1] Hindson, Edward E. and Gary Yates. The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. Nashville:

B&H, 2012. p. 164

[2] Ibid.

[3] 1 Samuel 8:5, NIV.

[4] 1 Samuel 8:7

[5] Hindson and Yates.  p. 165

[6] Ibid., p. 164

[7] Ibid., p. 166

[8] Ibid., p. 164.

[9] Ibid., p. 166

[10] Ibid., p. 167

[11] Ibid.  p. 169.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid., p. 174

[14] Ibid., p. 181

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