September 1, 2023
Outward appearances can be deceiving. God looks at the heart.
Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.
1 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
Do you ever wonder if your sin has consequences? In 1 Samuel 31, we read that King Saul’s poor choices ultimately resulted in death and humiliation, not only for himself but for his family and the people of Israel. "Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together." (1 Samuel 31:6) Our poor decisions affect not only our own lives but the lives of others.
We would be wise to consider how Saul ended up here and carefully heed the warning signs Scripture makes clear about his decisions. As we look back in 1 Samuel, and as a theme all throughout the book, we learn that God opposes the proud and exalts the humble. God is looking for those who wish to make Him the king of their hearts and who will obediently and humbly follow Him (1 Samuel 13:14).
Saul proves to be a man who continually chooses to go his own way and blatantly disregards the direct commands of God. He suffers great consequences for his actions, such as having the Lord's Spirit removed from him and being rejected by God as Israel's king. Instead of repenting and crying out to the Lord for forgiveness, he descends further into sin and hardness of heart.
Sin makes us think we have what we need within ourselves to make all things right and solve our problems. What Saul didn't do was to acknowledge His need for God, but we can learn from this. We can acknowledge that our prideful hearts are prone to wander and live in habitual sin.
Thankfully, we have a God who loves us and delights in showing mercy and forgiveness toward us. He shows us this in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, who came to die for our sinful hearts once and for all on the cross. "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
This month's memory verse
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1. Where is your sinful heart prone to wander? Is there a particular sin that you find yourself repeating over and over again?
2. What consequences have you experienced from this particular sin? Have these consequences affected only your life individually or others as well (family, friends, fellow believers, etc.)?
3. Before the consequences continue to grow, are you willing to learn from the story of Saul and confess to the Lord that you need His forgiveness and grace alone to overcome this sin in your life? Are you willing to repent? What does that look like in your life?