Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bad choices and a bad end

Saul's Final Battle - Artist unknown
Saul's Final Battle - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Samuel 31:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men died together that same day." 1 Samuel 31:6

Here we read of Saul's death. How did he come to this humiliating end?

He began well. Samuel chose Saul and assured him of God's presence and help: " Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man." - 1 Samuel 10:6.

After only two years of being king, though, the trouble started. At war with the Philistines, Saul assembled an army then waited at Gilgal for Samuel to come and make an offering before they went into battle. He waited seven days and still no Samuel. When the army began to scatter, he took matters into his own hands and performed the sacrifice himself. No sooner had he finished than Samuel appeared and there were fireworks:
Samuel: “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”" - 1 Samuel 13:13,14.

Sometime later, Samuel told him to fight the Amalekites. His instructions were "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them" 1 Samuel 15:3. However, Saul obeyed only partially (1 Samuel 15:9), claiming he had spared the livestock as offerings. Then God sent Samuel to Saul with the another message:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,He also has rejected you from being king
- 1 Samuel 15:22,23
Saul did have a long reign. Bible scholars believe he was around 20 years old when he was crowned and he reigned 40 years. But his time as king was overshadowed by the consequences of his impatience, lack of faith, disobedience, and rebellion. After God told him that the kingly succession would leave his family, suspicion and jealousy ruled his life (1 Samuel 20:30). Finally, after Samuel's death when he no longer heard from God at all, he was full of fear - 1 Samuel 28:8-20.

The sins for which Saul are known are hardly foreign to us. Who of us hasn't been tempted, perhaps gone through with enacting our own plans when God seemed slow to answer and our impatience got the best of us? Similarly, we are not strangers to disobedience, rebellion, suspicion, jealous, and fear.

There's no question that God was with Saul, and yet he ended so badly because he gave in to his natural tendency to do things on his own. May we learn from his life that such choices on our part will also have their consequences.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to consistently exercise faith and choose to obey. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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