Let’s be the CSI team assigned to the disaster that is the life of Saul. Let’s do the forensic investigation. If we were to zoom in to the soul of King Saul, we would find it underdeveloped, emaciated, and diseased. Now a first-year forensic investigator of the soul might conclude that this resulted from all of the rebellious sins Saul had committed. The older, wiser, and more seasoned investigator would know from experience that though sin can cause this kind of damage, in the case of King Saul, total spiritual negligence warped his soul into this pathetic condition. One day while studying this story, I realized that King Saul is the absolute embodiment of the lukewarm believer. He was neither the vilest nor the most wicked king of Israel. He was uniquely... lukewarm. That’s what scares me the most about the story of Saul. I would like to think that I am a little bit like King David. But truth be told, I am more like Saul. I am tempted to be lukewarm.

King Saul was given direction, authority, and divine power to complete his task. But with one initial exception, he saw only what was physically in front of him. When the enemy gathered and he was completely outnumbered, he did not see God’s plan or trust God’s control. He only saw the enemy, and he panicked (1 Samuel 13:6-14). That’s understandable the first time out, even the first few times. God doesn’t mind our panic. I daresay He wants us to be panicked occasionally, because it’s what we do next that makes all the difference. God wanted Saul to see no way out, to know that nothing on earth could save him that day. God wanted Saul to fall at His feet and pray for guidance, to humbly cry out for deliverance. If he had done that, if Saul had run into the arms of God, his battle would have been miraculously won, not by Saul’s strength but by God’s. From that experience Saul could have chosen to change. He could have felt his spirit being nourished as he praised God for His faithfulness. His heart would have been strengthened by deeper knowledge of the nature and character of God. And his soul could have swelled in size with the faith that God would win even more battles in the future. None of this happened in King Saul. This guy makes me crazy! He simply never gave his whole heart to God. That’s exactly what it means to be lukewarm.

How could Saul miss the point so spectacularly? How tragic. How very much like us. We get so scared, so distracted, and so angry. Situations are out of control, and we don’t know what to do next. Actually we do know, but we just don’t like it. It’s really not that complicated. We are to humble ourselves before the God of Jacob. That’s hard to do if we are virtual strangers to Him. But if we love Him, if we delight in Him and trust His desires for us, humbling ourselves is the only reasonable response. We are to pray with humility for guidance, and however it comes, even if it’s not in the direction we want, we humbly stand up like men and obey. When we do, our souls breathe deeply. When we let go of our selfish and silly dreams of prestige and position, we are free to take the risks that are required of a man of God. The more risks we take, the more we will see God make something beautiful out of our mess. Then we’ll be willing to risk even more.

The seasoned CSI investigator of the soul would know that Saul never let go of himself, never took his eyes off of Saul. He was very serious about being king, and that guided his every thought. His kingship was the most important priority in his life. He never realized that being king was only his job. Being devoted to God out of love was his calling. Consequently, he did religious activities only if they would assist him in being kingly. He never worshiped God because He is worthy of worship. Saul did it to impress others. He looked like he was praising God, but he was actually worshipping himself. That’s what a lukewarm soul does. If he had let go, if Saul had taken the risk and devoted all he had to loving God rather than trying to make himself look great, God would have made him actually great. That’s the irony. We need to give up our silly little dreams of looking good so that God can use us for His purposes. In that process, He will make us something more, something totally beyond what we are right now. Christ came to transform us, but we fight him. I did it for years. I wasn’t truly vile or wicked; I was worse. I was like King Saul; I was lukewarm.