January 5-6, 2008
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read 1 Samuel 15:1-35
Even though I have known people like this, still, I cannot fathom Saul's perspective. How can anyone be so clueless? He disobeyed the Lord's direct command by keeping not just a few things under the ban, but keeping everything having any value. On top of having no sense, Saul had no shame. Instead of being humiliated by his own guilt, he erected a monument to himself to commemorate the day. At least Achan had the good sense to be ashamed of his sin. Not Saul! Somehow he managed to twist events and rearrange facts to portray himself as God's champion.
Samuel's response is priceless: "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" (1 Samuel 15:14). Amazing how simple facts can so easily prick a deceiving heart.
I see two timeless principles at work in the story of Saul that deserve our attention.
First, how you finish is far more important than how you start. No one graduates from college thinking, Okay, now how can I fail? No bride or groom tells the wedding guests, "Enjoy the party; this thing won't last more than a couple of years." Only when a woman or man finishes well can we call that life a success. A good beginning does nothing to guarantee a good ending. Happy endings are the result of good choices and consistent discipline put in sequence over a lifetime and faithfully maintained.
Second, rationalization is disobedience because it refuses to accept the truth. I've heard it said that the most destructive lie is the one you tell yourself. Rationalizing is an insidious form of self-delusion. It starts small---usually with something innocent---and quietly twists the mind to spin the truth in convenient ways. In the end, the self-deluded mind rationalizes everything so conveniently, so automatically, that the person has no concept of how preposterous his or her thinking and behavior have become. And---never forget this---no one is immune.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.