Going Down for the Third Time
When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.” —1 Samuel 28:5-7
The closing events of King Saul’s life remind us that we can reach a point where we decide, like a drowning person going down for the third time, to give up. Saul was experiencing the truth of Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Saul walked into a dead-end in his life and thought there was no way out. In fact, by 1 Samuel 31:4, Saul commits suicide, which is the ultimate act of desperation.
It’s important that we realize that there were specific steps that Saul took that got him to that place. Maybe you knew someone who committed suicide. And you ask yourself, how does a person get to that place of desperation? I’m struck again by 1 Samuel 28:6, “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him.” Saul’s life screams, “Repent of your sin or deal with the consequences of isolation from God.” Saul didn’t have that. He wasn’t even close. And as a result, his life went down fast. He ended up seeking false and demonic spiritual counsel from a medium.
Many times we think we have repented, but we have not. The result is isolation from God. False repentance produces nothing. True repentance produces transparency, eagerness to make amends, a renewed joy in spiritual matters, and confidence in God. It brings peacefulness in our hearts, an intimacy with God, and joy in His presence. Saul did it his way, which turned out to be no way at all.
Saul’s life is one of the most tragic stories in all of Scripture. He missed two crucial things. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” We ask two questions of Saul’s life: how did he relate to God and how did he relate to other people? Saul blew it big time on both points. He was unrepentant in regard to his sin, and he never resolved anything with other people. And he went down for the third time. You and I have to answer those two questions the right way! —James MacDonald
· In what specific ways am I demonstrating my love for God and my love for neighbors today?
· Since “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2), what would I say are the crucial steps I must take when God makes me aware of sin in my life?
Prayer: Father, the raw failure of Saul’s life that You have included in Your Word shows me Your grace and the firmness of Your truth. Please keep me from taking those same stubborn steps, for I sense how easily I could be Saul. Thank You for Your Spirit’s warnings and reminders when I am not being wholeheartedly obedient. I love You Lord; show me how to love my neighbors better today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.