When my children were young, I tried to teach them everything they needed to know to be able to take care of themselves, like how to cook, clean, and do laundry. Although there were many things they were able to do for themselves, there were some things I had to do for them because they couldn’t handle the responsibility. For instance, I had to pay the bills because they had no concept of earning a living, having a budget, or being responsible for debt.
God tried to teach the Israelites how to be holy, but they did not understand the concept of forgiveness. Forgiveness was the only way the Israelites could be holy because they, like all humans, had a sin nature and could not live a perfect life. When forgiveness occurs, it is like wiping the slate clean, there is no more evidence of the offense. But in order to do that, there has to be a departure or taking away of the sin. Sins do not magically disappear just because they have been forgiven. The sin is removed and placed on the sacrifice where it is atoned for.
The spirit of the LORD departed from Saul because of his disobedience, but the underlying problem was that his sins were not forgiven. Saul was not aware that he was carrying his sins around with him, that the accumulated weight on his spirit was making it impossible for the spirit of the LORD to function in his life. It wasn’t until the spirit of the LORD departed that Saul knew he was in trouble.
Saul sought out a man to soothe his spirit when he was troubled and the man he selected was the man God anointed to replace him. David is described as a man “that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18). David was the great grandson of Ruth and Boaz. At the time he was called to serve Saul, he was a shepherd responsible for tending his father’s sheep. The only thing he had in common with Saul was that he was also anointed to be king.