How are the mighty fallen
Context: The Unfaithfulness of Saul
Text: I Chronicles 10 :1 -14 St James 31st August 2008
Although over the last few weeks we have used I Samuel as a background to Saul’s life I will be using the verses in 1 Chronicles for the most part this morning because I feel this is a very good summary of all of Saul’s life
As this section in Chronicles shows us what happens to a person who deliberately disobeys God, in order to follow his own personal agenda.
A) Darkness is everywhere
The Chronicler does not linger over Saul’s reign but only on its terrible outcome.
Here we see the grim harvest of wrong choices that Saul had previously made
The writer concentrates on the Israel’s last stand against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.
Saul had been denied the traditional Israelite advantage of fighting in the hills, and was forced to concentrate his forces at the eastern edge of the plain, near Mount Gilboa. There he awaited the approach of the enemy
The air of this chapter is heavy with spiritual darkness.
The end, when it comes, is so clearly the righteous judgement of God upon cold-hearted apostasy.
A desperate end for this man….who started off so well…
The Chronicler writes an obituary of Saul in verses 13–14, and endeavors to find meaning in this death.
Saul’s life could be summed up in one word, “unfaithfulness.”
The term is unpacked in two ways: disobeying God’s commands and indulging in a substitute for true religious faith.
Three acts of unfaithfulness are referred to here
- Saul was unfaithful to God In 1 Samuel 13 and followed his own judgment rather than wait for God to offer the appropriate sacrifice
- He disregarded God’s word through Samuel in I Samuel 15 and did not utterly destroy the Amalekites
- And the one which is exposed in 1 Samuel 28 when He willfully consulted a spiritualist medium
This was man who was willing to play fast and loose with Gods commands, heeding some and ignoring others, he was in reality placing himself above God and acting as if he didn’t need God at all
B) Descent into Darkness
Rebellion Samuel said is like the sin of witchcraft for they both reject the supremacy of God, reducing him to the level of any other spiritual power to which men go to in there time of need
It is therefore it is not surprising that Saul continued his dissent into evil when he consulted a medium
When in effect, he was seeking the aid of Satan for the preservation of his life and kingdom!
He knew what was right and he knew what was wrong as earlier in his reign he had 'expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land' ….But he still chooses the wrong!
When Saul saw the Philistine army he 'was afraid; terror filled his heart'.
He the account Samuel tells us he sought the Lord's will, but received no answer 'by dreams or Urim or prophets'.
The Chronicler says he 'did not enquire of the Lord' (1 Chronicles 10:14). This is probably intended as a generalizing comment on the direction of Saul's life' and not a contradiction of Saul's action on this occasion…. when he was really desperate!
The Spirit of God had ceased to strive with Saul. He was left to himself. And in his wicked desperation, he turned to the dark world of spiritism (28:4-7).
You might be saying well he had no option did he…if God was not speaking…well the fact that God was not speaking ….speaks volumes….Saul was in rebellion and needed to accept that and really repent….of all the numerous acts of wilful disobedience and offered appropriate sacrifices, the Lord would have graciously forgiven him and then even if he didn’t get his kingdom back he would have been back in the right place with God
The red and green lights of Gods mercy which we look at last week at been shown to him and he refused to stop
Saul persisted in his hardness of heart and eventually dies in his sins
He goes incognito to the medium and he asked her to call up Samuel from the dead.
The medium did as he asked and, to her terrified amazement, Samuel appeared before her eyes!
It was an intervention of God
God allowed on this one occasion the soul of a departed prophet to come as a witness from heaven, to confirm the word he had spoken on earth.'
The Lord gave Saul what he wanted but, as we shall see, not what he wanted to hear.
Samuel repeated the prediction that the kingdom would be given to another and identified him as David.
He further predicted that Saul would be defeated by the Philistines and that he and his sons would die on the battlefield (28:16-19). It was a divine epitaph upon a sorry life.
Saul asked Samuel what he was to do (28:15).
The answer was that he could do nothing. It was all over. Sentence had been passed.
He was finished. Saul was filled with terror, as well he might be.
And it is terror that should effect who acts unfaithfully
For if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God' (Hebrews 10:27).
Today, if you hear the Lord's voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7).
Jesus came that men and women might have life and have it abundantly
If we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Do nothing and a lost eternity will be yours.
C) Darkness in death!
It is dangerous thing to do to set ourselves up against God ….because the bible tells us that God will set himself up, against us
Saul was a man who was externally motivated…., the circumstances in which he found himself determined his actions rather more than the word of God …the result was the real issues ,the spiritual issues that should have determined the course of his life were obscured by a host situations which he faced.
He was successful in battle but only because God gave him the victory, but he ceased to enjoy the good things God gave to him because his own plans dominated more and more of his thinking
As a king ruling under the authority of God, Saul was responsible not primarily to his subjects but to his God.
And unlike the public opinion polls, the Lord is never impressed by our promises.
He commands our obedience to his good and perfect will.
On the face of it Saul appears to have been an able king.
For most of his forty-year rule, on the surface it appears Saul governed Israel effectively but from God's perspective however, there are higher criteria of effective kingship than, keeping the trains running on time.
The ultimate test of all rulers, ancient and modern, is what they do with the fact that they are to serve, not themselves, not only the people, but, first and foremost, the living God himself!
In a grim sense Saul’s end was God’s death sentence, and Saul acted as His executioner.
There is a day of reckoning for every human being.
The death of Saul reminds us all that we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that each may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
But even in this sombre truth lies the seed of the way to life. For the Lord says to the human race, 'Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him' (Hebrews 9:27-28).
There is the broad way that leads to destruction, and for every traveler on the highway of life Saul’s experience is God’s road sign “DO NOT ENTER.” This is the house built on sand, and great was its fall.
The only antidote for unfaithfulness is keeping the Word of God close to hearts, enquiring from within its pages what God would have us do in every situation we face.
When there are decisions to be made, when temptation presses upon us, when consciences are pricked, or when God changes situations in our lives, then we must enquire of the Lord for guidance. That guidance he gives in his Word.
In Psalm 119 v 11-12 the psalmist teaches us about the life of faithfulness:
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you; O Lord teach me your decrees
That was the difference between Saul and David…Saul was external motivated while David was internally motivated….which are we going to be?
Men and woman after Gods own heart, or rebels?