Posts Tagged 'King Saul'

Panic Podcast: Wait Upon the Lord, Part 6

Good, soggy morning, all. The rain continues here at my place. The fourth day of it. Who knew there could be so much rain up there?

While we wait for the rain to stop, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Psalm 59, because we’ll be learning about the day David discovered how to wait upon the Lord calmly (and probably dryly!).

 

 

Thanks for all your prayers and financial support.

SAUL: His sad end

Saul falls on his sword1 Samuel 28

Without a doubt, King Saul is a tragic character.  Over the past few weeks, we have studied his life and tried to understand what happened to him and why he stubbornly refused to submit to God.  As always, the Bible gives us some insights; we don’t need to put Saul on the analyst’s couch to make sense of his life.  All we have to do is turn to the God’s Word.  Consider Matthew 19:16—22.

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

“Which ones?” the man inquired.

Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The rich young man’s response to Jesus was similar to Saul’s response to God:  he went away.  Unwilling to do what was necessary to follow Jesus, this young man simply walked away.  Saul was unwilling to be obedient to God, and so Saul simply walked away.  Neither man was sent away; they went away.   When a person turns their back on God and walks away from His Light, there is no place they can go but into the darkness, and the darkness is a cold, hard place in which to live.

It has been almost 40 years since Saul committed his very first act of willful rebellion at Gilgal, where in his impatience and fear, he offered a sacrifice that was contrary to God’s will.  That may seem like insignificant thing, the sacrifice was done correctly after all, but that act was the thin edge of the wedge, and here near the end his life, Saul’s sin was not offering a genuine sacrifice to God, but involving himself an evil, Satanic practice.  Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go.

1.  Saul, the fearful, verse 5

When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart.

Once again the Philistines were mustering their armies to fight Israel.  David, fleeing for his life, found refuge with the Philistines and had become a kind of bodyguard to Achish, leader of the Philistines.  Now, David gave no direct pledge to help the Philistines in this battle, but it seemed that he and his band of followers had to march with the Philistine army.

Samuel, the beloved prophet of Israel, was dead.  The Spirit of God had left Saul.  To whom would Saul turn?  Because of his stubborn, rebellious heart, King Saul had no friends he could trust.  He was alone in the world.  Saul’s poor, miserable, self-confident heart began to crumble.

The last sentence of verse 3 is an explanatory note that seems out of place but necessary to set the scene for a terrible incident that will follow shortly.  At some time during King Saul’s reign, he apparently drove out all the witches and diviners from the land in keeping with the law of Moses.  Here was one incident where King Saul actually did the right thing, but to no avail, as we shall see.

Verse 5 is so telling:  he was afraid; terror filled his heart.  Apart from the grace of God, what can possibly sustain us when the hard times come?  Paul, with great inspired perception wrote—

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  (Romans 7:18)

A person without the Holy Spirit is incapable of helping themselves because there is nothing good in them!  There is not one thing in a person that can take the place of the Holy Spirit!  There is not one thing outside a person that can take the place of ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Our own wisdom, our own strength, our own resources are very poor substitutes for the presence of God.  Jesus put it best when He said—

[A]part from me you can do nothing.  (John 15:5)

You can’t even help yourself apart from Christ!

2.  Saul, the desperate, verse 6

He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.

There in another version of this incident recorded for us in 1 Chronicles 10:13—14—

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance,  and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Is this a contradiction?  John Haley, who writes about alleged discrepancies in the Bible offers a great explanation:

[I]t may be correctly remarked that Saul’s attempts at inquiry were of so unworthy a nature that it would be a misuse of language to speak of him as really inquiring of Jehovah.

Saul was desperate, but he was not sincere.  Desperation should never be equated with sincerity.  Many a confirmed, unrepentant sinner has called out to God in desperation when the circumstances warranted it, but that is not the kind of prayer God responds to.  There are times when God closes His ears to our prayers—

“Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.” (Proverbs 1:28)

If we harbor sin in our hearts, God will not hear us when we pray.  If we live in rebellion to His revealed Word, He will not hear us when we pray.  Unconfessed sin will always muffle your prayers.

3.  Saul, the apostate, verse 11

Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” “Bring up Samuel,” he said.

With this one verse, we see Saul’s complete devolution and complete absorption into the Saul and witch at Endordarkness of his blackened soul.  In the Hebrew, his words are as emphatic as they can be.  Saul was so desperate; he would do what no Hebrew was allowed to do.  In the desperation and bitterness of his heart, Saul longed for even a brief word of advice from someone who had a relationship with God.  He had previously slaughtered all the priests of the Lord in one town, so who among those left alive in Israel would dare say a word to Saul?  So Saul, bereft of one ounce of God’s Spirit, will dance will the devil to get what he thinks he needs.

This story of the witch at Endor fascinates many.  What really happened that night?  Did she really raise Samuel’s spirit?  Did she communicate with the dead?  Theories abound, but J.B. Chapman boils them all down to just two:

First, Samuel did appear by special providence of God, and His appearing was a judgment upon the wicked king and a surprise to the witch, whose usual fakish claims were over-shadowed by this unexpected divine intervention.  Or second, this was just another unfounded claim of the witch to which the troubled heart of the king gave credence.  I think nine-tenths of the experiences of spiritism can be explained upon the basis of psychology, including telepathy, and whatever is not human about it is directly of the devil (1927).

Did Samuel really come back from the dead?  If so, then it is the only occurrence of this in the Bible.  Scripture roundly condemns the practice of necromancy in Deuteronomy 18:9—14, among other references.  In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, found in Luke 16:19—31 we learn that the rich man, who was dead, was strictly forbidden to return to the land of living and could not communicate those alive.  The apostle Paul was caught up to heaven was silenced; he was not allowed to speak of what he had seen and heard (2 Corinthians 12:2—4).

The fact is, Saul never saw Samuel that night; it was the witch, who may never have seen Samuel while he was alive, that claimed she saw a man wearing a robe, probably the kind of robe a prophet would wear.  Naturally in his desperate, apostate state, Saul would believe anything this woman said.

Saul had completely opened himself up to being deluded.  Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he had no discernment and his mind was ripe for satanic delusion.  Those who turn away from the truth will be deceived through believing a lie.

For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.  (2 Thessalonians 2:11—12)

4.  Saul, the suicide, 31:3—4

The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.

This chapter is repeated, in an abbreviated form, in 1 Chronicles 10:1—12, where it serves to introduce the life and times of King David.  Here, the battle rages on; it is King Saul against the Philistines.  This “last battle” of Saul went the way of every “last battle” of the one who had turned their back on God.

Saul, wounded and surrounded by the enemy, is afraid that he will be tortured by his enemies before killed, turns to his armor-bearer.  That was a very important position in the Hebrew army; David had once been Saul’s armor-bearer.  He asked his armor-bearer take his sword and run him through before the Philistines could get their hands on him.  In the last few moments of his life, this incident with the armor-bearer must have spoke volumes to the king:  Saul, once handpicked by both God and man to be Israel’s first king, full of promise and anointed with the Spirit of God, had so forsaken God, that even in his death his armor-bearer would not do what he was asked.  It is so true:  God cannot be mocked.  We reap what we sow.  Saul stubbornly refused to obey God, and now his armor-bearer refused to obey him.

Saul wanted to live his life his own way but in the end, all he achieved was dying his own way.  Again, the words of Jesus ring true—

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  (Matthew 16:25)

Saul was determined to die exactly as he lived:  on his own terms.   Eli, the wayward priest for 40 years who raised Samuel, died by falling off his chair, so also Saul, the hapless king for 40 years, died by falling on his sword.  So is the end of all who turn from God.  There is no glory in living life “your way,” on your terms.

One of the worst lies ever foisted on people is contained in the lyrics to “My Way,” a song that exalts the man who did lived life his way:

To think I did all that;
And may I say – not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

If you try to go out and live life your way, you will end up like Saul.  If you call yourself a Christian, there is only way to live:  God’s way.  We all want to be the exception, but in truth there are no exceptions.  We all want to think that we are exempt from the God’s rules that govern “other” people, but none are exempt.

Paul Davis, wrote about living right:

I know that he gave his life for me
Set all our spirits free
So I wanna do right wanna do right
All of my life

You’ve got to do right
Yes, you’ve got to do right
And he’ll be your guiding light
But you’ve got to do right
And he’ll be your guiding light.

He’s right.  Jesus Christ will be your guiding light, if you live in obedience to Him.  Do right and live right!

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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