Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.’ Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’ As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbour of yours, who is better than you. Moreover, the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.’ Then Saul said, ‘I have sinned; yet honour me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.’ So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshipped the Lord.
As Saul begs for forgiveness, he reveals the motivation behind his sin: “I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” A King chosen by men will fear men, but a King chosen by God will obey God. YHWH allowed Israel’s experiment with Saul to play out to its natural conclusion. He spared them from destruction, but the consequences of their disobedience was the tumultuous reign of a wicked man. Oftentimes Hell is simply God giving us what we ask for.
Remember that God spoke to the Israelites through a representative, and Saul was the one they chose. Perhaps the evil of Israel manifested itself in Saul, or the evil in Saul manifested itself in Israel, but this was the result of an attempt to work around God. The covenant established between God and Israel was a promise that God would lead and protect his chosen people if they would keep his commandments and remember that YHWH was their God. As soon as the people tried to do the work of God, the inevitable slide towards sin and destruction began. God gave them what they wanted.
“The gates of Hell are locked from the inside.” C.S. Lewis