1 Samuel 13:13—How could God have promised Saul a perpetual dynasty over Israel when that had already been prophesied of David?
Problem: After Saul profaned the sacrifice, Samuel rebuked him and told him that, had he not sinned, God would have established him on the throne of Israel forever. However, in Genesis 49:10 we find the promise that the throne would be given to the tribe of Judah forever. How could God promise Saul an eternal kingdom when this was already promised to Judah?
Solution: The statement of Samuel did not amount to a promise. Rather, Samuel is telling Saul what he had forfeited by his act of impiety. God knew from the beginning that Saul would show himself to be unworthy of sitting on the throne of Israel. However, as a free moral agent, Saul had to actually commit the acts of impiety which God had foreknown. The statement that God would have established Saul upon the throne was sincere and legitimate, although hypothetical. For God also knew that Saul would disqualify himself, so God prophesied that ultimately the throne would fall to the tribe of Judah, and David’s line would be established in Israel forever.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.