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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Jan. 1, 2009

  • 2009 Jan 01

Don't Waste Your Life Like Saul

When I read a letter or card I usually start by looking at the end to see who it is from. When I read a book I often look at the end to see whether the hero makes it alive to the end.

 When I start a biographical study of a person God chose to be included in His Word I always look at the END of their life first. Why is that? Because God said that the way we finish is what counts. It is not how we start the race, but how we finish the race that really matters. That's why Paul triumphantly said, "I have finished the course!” (2 Timothy 4:7) 

So as we look at the life of King Saul, at the theme of "how NOT to serve the Lord" would you join me at the end of his life? Turn with me to how King Saul finished his life in 1 Samuel 31. 

The End of Saul’s Life

On this windswept hill, three thousand years ago the mightiest man of Israel fell wounded; King Saul, with life agonizingly clinging within his tortured body, called out to a passing man and had him end his earthly suffering. That man killed King Saul and took his crown. That man was an Amalekite

After fiercely battling all day with the Philistines, arrows from the enemies he had fought gravely wounded King Saul. His sons and heirs to the throne lay dead around him, night was falling, the enemies had retreated, and Saul was alone. The mightiest man of Israel, head and shoulders taller than anyone else now dragged himself along trying to reach his sword fallen on the battlefield. When he had it at last he pushed himself upon it to end his dreadful pain. 

As the night passed and morning dawned life still clung to Saul. The sound of the victorious Philistine warriors echoed up the hillsides, they came to abuse the wounded and strip the dead. Saul wanted to die. Hanging there, impaled on his own sword, Saul looked around through the mists of death and he heard a man coming. In the gray light of dawn he appeared scavenging what he could from the dead. Then Saul cried out to him and asked for him to kill him. The young man obliged, striking down the King of Israel. Then he took the crown off Saul’s head. That man was an Amalekite.

Saul what is it like at the end for one who fails the Lord? What does someone who fails to serve the Lord do to their life? What exactly does a wasted life amount to? 

Saul had money, muscles, and charisma—but he didn’t have integrity, humility, and a servant’s heart. So Saul was a colossal failure. The last hours of life were spent with a witch—his last supper with a demonic spiritist medium trying to communicate with the dead (1 Samuel 28:3-8) and his death came as he was surrounded by his dead sons and his very triumphant enemies (1 Samuel 31:2). What happened when Saul refused to serve God and instead served himself? It led to Saul's eternal disgrace:  

Saul’s Eternal Disgrace

  • Saul’s death was a Personal disgrace: While certain cultures view suicide in time of adversity as noble, God's people regard it as always dishonorable and wrong. When Saul decided to die by his own hand (1 Samuel 31:4), he chose the lowest way out. 
  • Saul’s death was a Family disgrace: When Saul died, he took his whole house with him. The royal father and three sons, including the popular and noble Jonathan, were killed on the same battlefield (1 Samuel 31:6). While the death of the king was tragic, the simultaneous loss of his heirs was disastrous.
  • Saul’s death was a National disgrace: All his life Saul had defended Israel from enemy assault. Now he lay dead at the hands of his enemies (1 Samuel 31:7). His death now signaled a Philistine advance unequaled in history and unparalleled in scope.
  • Saul’s death was an International disgrace: When the Philistines pinned his headless corpse to the wall of Beth Shan (1 Samuel 31:10), they made a strategic choice. Situated at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys, Beth Shan controlled the crossroads of major highways. With Galilee and Damascus to the north, the Mediterranean to the west and Jerusalem to the south, travelers from many nations passed through this prominent city. Here is this public place, Saul's fallen form was a silent witness to the triumph of the pagan powers. While thousands of residents whispered about it, tens of thousands of travelers trumpeted the news in every direction.
  • Saul’s death was a Spiritual disgrace: The greatest shame in Saul's death was that it was God’s judgment. The end of his life was exploited as an opportunity for praise of pagan gods. The Scriptures tell us that his head was hung in Dagon's temple as a trophy of victory (I Chronicles 10:10), and his armor was placed as a votive offering in the temple of the Ashtoreths. These five degrees of disgrace were the solemn epitaph of one who fulfilled the worst in his death because he failed to live up to the best in his life.[1] 

Life really does come down to servanthood—who we present ourselves as servants to obey as Paul said (Romans 6:13). Or as Jesus so clearly warns us, "no one can serve two masters." (Matthew 6:24). 

·         Romans 6:12   Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. NKJV 

·         Matthew 6:20-24 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22  The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?


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