How would you like people to remember you? We have ideals and hopes, do we fulfill them?
King Saul died in a battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 31).
Saul “was predestined to fail and he did, as a commander, a father, a friend, the founder of a monarchy,” he nevertheless “perseveres in the mission for which he was chosen, the protection of Israel from annihilation by the surrounding enemies. Therein lies his greatness. Though he lost favor in the eyes of the Lord of Israel, yet Saul continued to feel compassion for the Children of Israel” (van Praag, “The Downfall of King Saul,” p. 424).
At best, however, Saul remains a complex and enigmatic figure, at once hero and villain. “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” (1 Chronicles 10:13–14).
At the end of Saul’s life, people thought of him, perhaps they were thinking of him in these terms:
- He had courage and was generous.
- He had a striking appearance.
- His leadership and his appearance did not match up.
- He was dedicated to himself.
- He was impulsive and overstepped his bounds.
- He was inconsistent, disobedient and had a lot of self-will.
- He did not have a real deep-seated desire for God.
- He took matters in his own hands without asking God’s guidance
- He disobeyed God several times. Disobedience can be forgiven if we repent, but he didn’t.
- Jealousy ruled his life – he constantly wanted to kill David.
Saul’s tragic life and death can teach us practical lessons:
- Great sins often begin as “little matters” – impatience, incomplete obedience, and excuse making. Once sin gets hold of people, they go from bad to worse.
- Weaknesses should remind us that we need God’s guidance and help.
- Never do something without asking God’s advice.
- God expects from us obedience from the heart, not just acts of religious practice (in church or elsewhere). Saul only tried to please God by spurts of religiosity, real spirituality takes a lifetime of obedient consistency.
- There is no substitute for obedience. Obedience involves sacrifice, but sacrifice does not always involve obedience.
- If we are right with God, it will show in relationship with God’s people.
- Excuses are no substitute for confessions.
- God wants to use our abilities, gifts and strengths, but it means nothing without the power of God.