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Faith Imagined: Flask or Horn?

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

March 6, 2011

Flask or Horn?

Comparing the lives and actions of King Saul and King David teaches us how to handle the vision/promise God gives us. We all have our "kingdom" that God has prepared for us. We all have our designated territory that we have dominion over. Both King Saul and King David were given the same promise: they were both kings of Israel. However, they each treated this promise very differently. The distinction that occurred in their leadership can be traced to their anointing.

Both Saul and David were unexpectedly anointed king by the same prophet, Samuel. Saul was looking for his father's donkeys (1 Samuel 9.3) and David was tending his father's sheep (1 Samuel 16.11).

Saul's family somehow lost their donkeys. Donkeys are highly intelligent animals that are very affectionate. In ancient times they were symbolic of wealth (especially by the Jews) and were used by the rich for transportation. The fact that Saul had several donkeys suggests affluence. The carelessness of caring for the donkeys indicates a great lack of concern as their guardian. Donkeys are pretty laid-back animals that are easy to care for. They can last long periods of time without food or water. Usually only a predator can make donkeys run, and Saul did not take adequate measures to ensure their protection. Saul looked through many territories to find them, but his inattentiveness caused him to wander.

David obviously cared for his father's sheep. Even when a famed prophet arrived at his home, he didn't leave them until his father summoned him. Shepherding was considered a lowly job. Servants did the shepherding or many times the last born son, like David. Sheep are extremely helpless animals. Some people have said that without human intervention, they would already be extinct. They have trouble finding food and water, and they lack any ability to protect themselves from predators. In ancient times sheep were allowed to roam pasture land, so the shepherd had to stay alert and attentive. The shepherd needed to gain the trust of the sheep, so they would closely follow him. Shepherding was also a solitary job that garnered no prestige or acclaim from society.

They were anointed with the same oil, which comes from the Hebrew word shemen. Oil is symbolic for God's Spirit or Holy Spirit. Saul (1 Samuel 11.6) and David (1 Samuel 16.13) each received God's Spirit. Although they received the same oil, the container that held their oil was vastly different.

Samuel put Saul's anointing oil into a flask, which comes from the Hebrew word pak. This flask was man-made, and many times created from a fine mineral called alabaster. Samuel was prepared to anoint a king because God told him the day before. Not only did he have a flask of oil ready, he had a dinner with thirty prestigious guest arranged, a seat of honor prepared and the choicest slice of meat waiting! Samuel made a grand show of anointing Saul.

On the other hand, God told Samuel to put David's anointing oil into a horn, which comes from the Hebrew word qeren. Samuel was scared to anoint David because King Saul was still ruling, so God told Samuel to say that he was offering a sacrifice to God and anoint the new king in secret (1 Samuel 16.2). I think God chose the horn for two reasons: First, the horn would hide Samuel's intention of anointing David. Second, the horn is not man-made and represents power and strength.

I believe the container of the oil signifies the main difference between Saul's and David's kingship. Saul was the human desire for a king. He was a tall man, anointed in prestige. Shortly after Saul was anointed, he was made king before the nation. There was barely in lag time between events. Saul would not submit to the Holy Spirit and become a king after God's own heart. He lived out most of his kingship in the flesh and not in the Spirit. All throughout his life, he lived to please man, not God. Saul was a flask.

David was God's desire of a king. He was forgotten, anointed in secret. He was in his teens when he was anointed, yet he didn't become king until he was thirty (2 Samuel 5.4). During the many years David hid in caves and commanded his growing army, God was able to transform David into a man after His own heart. David's sole desire was to be with God (Psalm 27.4). He lived out most of his kingship in the Spirit. All throughout his life, he lived to please God, not man. David was a horn.

God needs our willingness if He is to transform us into people after His own heart. We need to put His desires above the desires of ourselves and others. He also needs time to change us from the inside out. He wants us to victoriously lead in our designated territories, but we need to be willing to submit to the process. God wants to make our "prestigious" man-made flasks into Horns of Salvation -- the likeness of Christ.

When Saul was declared king, he hid (1 Samuel 10.22). When David was declared king and finally brought the Ark of the Lord back home, he danced (2 Samuel 6.16). God wants us to dance in the promises that He's given us. Let us be horns for God, so He will lift us up on high and we can declare His glory and salvation to the world.

"I love you, LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
- Psalm 18.1-2 (emphasis added)

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Blogger The Unknowngnome said...

"Time is imperative to any vision...the transforming process, which takes time and surrender and continues our entire lives."

I totally agree with you in this paragraph. I hope and pray that I allow Him the time that is needed to transform me before my life ends.

1:04 AM  
Blogger Leah @ Point Ministries said...

What a great post! Great comparisons and contrasts between the two kings of Israel. I am reading the Bible through chronologically this year and am reading these stories right now.

I'll be on the lookout for some of these as I read. Thanks for pointing them out!

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Outlook Exchange said...

I loved that story! The comparison between kings were wonderful!

5:28 AM  
Blogger Joanne Sher said...

Oh, Alisa. This is great! I'd never looked at it just this way. You've given me much to ponder. Wow.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Diane Marie Shaw said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. God has me in the wilderness and I have not liked it at all but now I see there is a divine purpose, now I have peace. I will allow God to do His work in me because I want to Dance.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Jeanette Levellie said...

You are so wise. Thank you for sharing the insights the Lord gives you.


12:10 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

I love the truths you brought out in this post! I did no know of these details and love the way you bring such humble understanding.

2:18 PM  
Blogger sumanje said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

I am late getting here, but always glad I read your insightful post. I have always wondered about what Saul missed. Thanks for the thoughts

3:37 PM  
Blogger Deborah Ann said...

VERY interesting! I loved to learn of the past heritage of caring for donkeys and sheep.

I love how David learned directly from did Paul. I was just reading about that today. I want to learn directly from God, and not a man. Oh, I am a rebel. Yes, but in a good way. In a 'God' way.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

i just love David! and i love how God still uses the amazing old testament to speak to our hearts today.

6:36 PM  
OpenID deodate said...

Wonderful thoughts and insights Alisa. Love the distinction between Saul and David..and yet, even David wasn't perfect. But, as you say, he was transformed and always turned back to God. Thanks for this.

4:17 AM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

Amen Alisa, I desire to be a woman after God's heart like David and not a man pleaser like Saul. Thanks for the reminder to keep walking in the spirit:)

5:36 PM  
Blogger Karen Lange said...

Like the comparisons here. Thanks!
Karen :)

6:01 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

A very encouraging post on a day when I need enouragement.
thank you

8:39 PM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

As I often do here, I read this entry twice to capture the depth and richness of your points. It does one well to consider placing our full trust in The Lord to shape us. Only in this way can we fully articulate the gifts He has blessed us with.

12:51 AM  
Blogger lioneagle said...

Hi Alisa -

Thank you for this potent piece.

Especially I love this that you expressed, "God wants us to dance in the promises that He's given us. Let us be horns for God, so He will lift us up on high and we can declare His glory and salvation to the world."

Psalm 18 is one of my favorites. Did you know that 2 Samuel 22 is almost identical?

10:30 AM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

I never thought of this comparison. As I read, it's so clear that Saul depended on himself, while David relied on God.

Susan :)

9:09 PM  
Blogger Lois of said...

Hi there, I popped by for WFW....I am thankful for your post!

2:59 AM  
OpenID bluecottonmemory said...

I love history detail - what a wonderful lesson not only teaching me to better understand Saul and David but to understand what God wants from us! I found myself wanting my sons to read this!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

You always give me so much to think about!

3:59 PM  
Blogger Marletha Booker said...

Alisa, this was a great post! It was very informative. I love that you compared the two kings' upbringings and personalities. It really shows the amount of research you put into this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it!


9:13 AM  

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