This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.The Koran contains two stories of King Saul. The first describes how God made certain His selection of Saul as king, and the second relates to how Saul and his men defeated Goliath. When God appointed Saul as king over Israel, the people, according to the Koran, complained against his selection, saying they were eminently more qualified and more worthy of the kingship than Saul. However, God offered to them a sign that it was Saul He had chosen.
"And their Prophet said to them, 'The sign of his kingship is that the Ark will come to you, in it a Shechina [a pledge of security] from your Lord, and a remnant [relics] of what the folk [family] of Moses and Aaron's folk left behind, the angels bearing it. Surely in that shall be a sign for you, if you are believers.'" (Koran 2:249)However, there is only one reference in the Jewish scriptures to the Ark of the Covenant being with Saul in battle. "Then Saul said to Ahijah, 'Bring the ark of God here.' For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel." (1 Samuel 14:18) However, there is no record of the Ark ever being carried by angels and it is even questionable if the Ark was actually brought from its resting place at Kiriath-jearim to the battlefield with Saul, for it says that, "While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, 'Withdraw your hand.'" (1 Samuel 4:19) And we are told that, regarding Kiriath-jearim, that "the ark remained at Kiriath-jearim, the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord." (1 Samuel 7:2)
As for the contents of the Ark, we are clearly told,
"the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant" (Hebrews 9:4)The Ark did not contain any relics of the families of Moses and Aaron.
The Koran continues to give an account of the battle that was supposedly won by Saul with the aid of the Ark.
"And when Saul went forth with the hosts [his forces] he said, 'God will try you with a river; whosoever drinks of it is not of me, and whoso tastes it not, he is of me, saving him who scoops up with his hand.' But they drank of it, except a few of them; and when he crossed it, and those who believed with him, they said, 'We have no power [strength] today against Goliath and his hosts.' Said those who reckoned they should meet God, 'How often a little company has overcome [vanquished] a numerous company, by God's leave! And God is with the patient.' So, when they went forth against Goliath And his hosts, they said, 'Our Lord, pour out upon us patience [steadfastness], and make firm our feet, and give us aid against the people of the unbelievers [infidels]!'" (Koran 2:250-251)First, the battle sited above where Saul calls for the Ark, was not the same battle where they defeated Goliath. Secondly, the story of God culling down the army by a test at the stream was with Gideon, not Saul.
"So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, 'You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.' Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. The Lord said to Gideon, 'I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.'" (Judges 7:5-7)Finally, when Saul and his army did go up against Goliath, they were not confident, nor prayerful in their hope for strength, but were frightened and scared into inaction.
"Again the Philistine said, 'I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.' When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid... The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand... them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid." (1 Samuel 17:10-11, 16, 23-24)
It wasn't until David killed Goliath and cut off his head that the Israelites found courage and strength to enter into the battle and defeated the Philistines.
More to come...