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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sins of Saul

Map showing states around Israel and Judah. Th...Image via Wikipedia
Saul reigned in Israel for 42 years.  For most of that time he knew that his kingship would not survive him, and his son would not be heir to the throne.  He had an opportunity, but he lost it.  He was brave in battle, he commanded troops, and he followed the instructions of Samuel, but when Samuel wasn't around he did not stay focused on God's goals.

Even from the beginning, he wanted to chose his own path and use his own judgment.  In his first campaign he had a good handle on the situation at Geba.  But Samuel was late.  The Philistines rallied and came to make a good show, but, without Samuel, Saul offered a sacrifice.  His men had become restless and begun to desert.  He felt he had to do something.  What else could he do? 

He could have prayed.  He could have sent a runner to seek for Samuel.  He could have prepared for battle.  But he chose to offer the sacrifice.  Bad choice.  A few minutes more, just a few more minutes and Samuel was there.  Saul lost the kingdom in that first
dramatic error.

There were other bad choices in Saul's life, other times when he should have known better.  When God told him to kill Agag, he chose not to obey.  He wanted to tease and taunt the beaten king.  When he saved the herds of Agag to make a sacrifice to God, he should have known better.  How foolish he was to think he could sacrifice the thing God had already condemned.  When the evil spirit tormented him, it is easy to see the toll of his own guilt.  The attacks on David were the result of jealousy and greed.  David was favored and Saul was endured.

Saul did expel the mediums from the land, but there is no indication when that happened.  On the night before his death, Saul sought out the Witch of En Dor.  He needed a confidante.  He needed guidance.  He needed reassurance.  She did not provide him with any of these; however, she did not lie to him.  Her predictions were accurate.  She did identify Saul although he had sought to conceal his identity.  She did call up Samuel from the dead.  She did share a truthful message.  She did serve him supper before he left.  In all this Saul sinned and failed again to trust the Lord.  Seeking help from the witch was Saul's last transgression.

As predicted he and his sons died in battle the next day.  Saul was Israel's first king.  When he was young and small in his own eyes, he had been God's choice.  When he lost his concentration on God, he became great in his own eyes, and all God saw in him crumbled.  God was long-suffering toward Saul, but Saul was was not faithful to God's call.
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