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Saul's Slippery Slope: Final Lesson

The downfall of King Saul is marked with pride, presumption, and foolish hastiness. Rather than trusting the will of God, he became reliant in himself and in others. He also treated the commands of God with flippancy and irreverence. Because of this, Saul was tormented with nightmares and faced an onslaught of depression. It is stated in 1 Samuel 16:14, “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him (ESV).” This has been the point of much contention because some wonder over how God could do this. The Bible reveals that God is not the author of temptations (James 1:13) nor is there any darkness in Him (1 John 1:5), so how do we make sense of such a statement? We must realize the implications of the first part of verse fourteen which said that God's spirit left Saul. The departure of God's favor and presence meant that Saul would undoubtedly experience anxiety and fear. Due to the hardness of his own heart, God's hand of pea…
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Saul's Slippery Slope: Part 8

There are times when we try to complicate the simple call of following Christ. Rather than faithfully heeding to His Word in humble obedience, we are like Naaman who just couldn't believe that to be healed from his leprosy meant only to exercise trust in God's command and wash in the Jordan river seven times. He sought to question why it was such a little demand and he wanted to be the object of some grand spectacle. It is so imperative as believers in Christ to remember that it is not about us! Oh how often we either try to add “how-to-get-spiritual-quick formulas” to our faith, or we attempt to throw in sneaky loopholes to whole heart commitment, so we can appear to be chest deep in the fruits of the Spirit, when all the while we're just grazing the surface of the Christian walk. This is what Saul did in 1 Samuel 15. Rather than stay focused on carrying out God's command to entirely wipe out the Amalekites, he started to come up with his own assumptions of what seem…

Saul's Slippery Slope: Part 7

For the past several weeks, we have studied about King Saul's behavior and foolish choices found in 1 Samuel 13-14. In these chapters, you will see that self reliance, pride, and impatience would begin to control Saul's steps. Probably though, the most glaring testimony of his fall from being a godly king and a faithful servant of the Lord is recorded in 1 Samuel 15. There is no set time-line given as to when this took place during Saul's reign. Only that from the very beginning of the chapter, Saul is commanded by God, through the prophet Samuel, to completely destroy the Amalekites. Not a single person or livestock were to be kept alive. Because of their cruel and wicked treatment of the Israelites, during the days of Moses, God had declared that judgment would fall on the people of Amalek. There were no spoils to be had in this battle, only that Saul would, “....claim everything they have for God by destroying it (1 Samuel 15:3 / GWT)” Upon hearing the Lord'…

Tongues of Fire

I will, Lord willing, continue my study on the pitfalls of Saul, but for now, I want to touch base on a subject that is of grave importance for the church. Concerning the coming of Christ, John the Baptist once declared to the the crowds that he baptized, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11 / ESV).” Just before His glorious ascension into heaven, Jesus told all His disciples, “...for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now...But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth(Acts 1:5, 8 / ESV).” Indeed this mighty outpouring of power and holy fire would take place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). In his book, Impossible People, Os Guinness wrote, “Jesus, the…

Saul's Slippery Slope: Part 6

Once again, Saul's son, Jonathan, was the first one to strike a blow to the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 13, he fought under his father's direct orders, but in chapter 14, he chose to attack a Philistine garrison with only his amorbearer by his side. While everyone else was hiding and biding time, Jonathan slew over twenty men. He then witnessed an earthquake that shook the region and caused a chaotic scene within the camp of the Philistines. Once it was established that the Philistines were in great confusion---some fought each other while others fled---then King Saul commanded the Israelites to attack them. The tides had turned and Israel gained renewed vigor on the battlefield. In fool-heartiness and flippancy, Saul commanded that no one would eat anything until they had reigned vengeance down on his enemies. His brash statement would prove to be costly , because in time, his entire army would become weary and weak with hunger.
Not knowing of his father's command, Jonathan …

Saul's Slippery Slope: Part 5

In 1 Samuel 14, when everyone else was waiting in fear over what the Philistine army would do, Saul's son, Jonathan courageously fought against another enemy garrison, killing over twenty men. Soon after, an earthquake caused the Philistines to fall into mass confusion and they started fighting each other! As the chaos ensued, Saul slowly realized that the battle had shifted in Israel's favor and ended up leading his army once more to battle. 
How many people are like this as well? Conditions must be right before they will step out in boldness. We may demean the apostle Peter's faith for losing sight of the Savior and sinking in the sea, but at least he was willing to get out of the boat even while there was a storm brewing!  If we only move ahead when we see see clear skies and a beautiful path, we will not go very far. I am not advocating foolhardiness in the Christian walk, but I am encouraging trust in the midst of hardships and bold faith when everything may seem hopel…

Saul's Slippery Slope: Part 4

Saul was not always that jealously vicious king children often hear about in Sunday school. At one time, he was humble, perceptive, and bold. Yet, because he made a foolish and hasty decision to offer an unlawful sacrifice to the Lord, Samuel prophesied that Saul would ultimately lose his throne to another (1 Samuel 13). Many conjectures may be made over what went on in Saul's mind once he realized the gravity of his brash decision, but the fact is that instead of fully repenting over his sin, he let the wound fester by allowing doubt and bitterness lodge in his heart. After Samuel's rebuke, Saul camped out in Gibeah with only six hundred men. They were a ragtag team with little weapons and dampened spirits. It is not known whether Saul was planning an attack, standing his ground, or simply hiding from the Philistines. What is certain is that his son, Jonathan, would manifest heroic bravery and unflinching faith. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan chooses to fight instead of sit idly b…