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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Jan. 2, 2009

  • 2009 Jan 02

Saul--Rejected by God

The Lord of life, the Creator--God Himself, once said something very sobering. He said that the day of our death is better than the day of our birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2). Why would He tell us that? Because at the end, after the life is finished, the real person is known. That life with all of its opportunities and obstacles, accomplishments and failures is ready for review.  

The chilling fact of God's Word is the individual life analysis that God Himself then performs—an autopsy not of the cause of death, but of the purpose of life. That is why the constant theme of Paul's exhortations to us in the church revolve around the idea of finishing well at the finish line, a life that survive the fires of the judgment seat, and a "well done good and faithful servant" analysis of our race by the Lord Himself. 

So we will get the consequences of our choices in Heaven. There is a reckoning day for believers. So we do need to have regular investment reviews to think of what we are living for. 

That brings us back again to the life of King Saul. The ominous warning of Saul’s life is that he had everything going for him possible. He was big, strong, blessed, gifted, chosen, empowered, and given every opportunity to serve God. But he didn’t.  

Saul failed because there were severe deficiencies in his character.  

  • God doesn’t need brains—He wants character.
  • God doesn’t need brawn (huge strong muscles)—He wants integrity.
  • God doesn’t need anyone’s wisdom, power, or wealth—He wants obedience.
  • God doesn’t need ambitious confidence—He wants humble dependence

Over and over in God's Word we see that God summarizes an entire life in a few words. The challenge of that summary is two fold. When God summarizes a life He means it, and it is accurate.  

Do you remember God’s summary of David’s life? We can call that David’s epitaph. God distills David’s seventy-year life down to just 9 words in English.  

  • Acts 13:36 For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. (NIV) 

So what was God’s summary of Saul’s life? God only needs one word—rejected. God says five times in just three verses that Saul rejected God by disregarding His Word, so God rejected him.  

The word that God uses for Saul’s treatment of God and God’s response back to Saul is a very strong word. 

The Hebrew word that the Holy Spirit chose to describe Saul’s treatment of God is the Hebrew word mawas, used 76 times in the Old Testament and most often translated: despise 25, refuse 9, reject 19, abhor 4, become loathsome 1, melt away. In context when ever this word is used about someone’s response to God--it is always bad. This is the word (despised) that described Israel’s murmuring in the wilderness just before He sent the plague to kill many of them; this is the word that described Job’s boils and sores (loathsome); and this is the word that is used by God for Israel’s attitude they (despised) the worship of God the basis for His allowing Israel to be destroyed by her enemies and carried off into captivity. 

So Saul rejected God when he used selective, self-serving obedience in place of total and God-honoring obedience. And what did he get as his consequence for that bad choice? Look at the record God left for us. 

  • 1 Samuel 15:23, 26 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” NKJV 
  • 1 Samuel 15:35 And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel. NKJV 
  • 1 Samuel 16:1 Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” NKJV 

Can you imagine what it would be like to have it all and yet be rejected by God? I can’t because I want to obey the Lord. That longing, in spite of failures is the work of grace in our lives. You see David wasn’t perfect—just forgiven. Saul wasn’t perfect—just unconcerned. 

David was imperfect, David was impatient, David was angry at times, wrathful at times, depressed, distressed, fearful, hopeless and tempted—yet he was God’s man in that he didn’t like being that way and didn’t want to stay that way. He was grieved over his sin against God. What God said mattered to David, but it didn’t seem to matter to Saul. 

Let’s experience the start of the fall of Saul. The first record of a problem he had that led to his ultimate disaster.

Please take a moment to read 1 Samuel 13. 

Now go back with me through this chapter and note the glaring examples God records for us in ways to fail, waste your life. Here is how not to serve the Lord! 

Just as the Spirit of God bears fruit, so does the flesh. When we don’t obey God we are in rebellion against Him. There is no middle ground. The fruit of the flesh is also quite easily spotted in ungodly attitudes and actions. King Saul would not walk in step with God, so his flesh reigned in his life. Saul lived a life of ignoring the warnings of departure from God’s way!  

What were those signs? His pathway of rebellion involved the following elements that I call “Ways we Don’t Serve God”!

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