The battle within…

The stories of King Saul and King David are told in 1 and 2 Samuel. Two likeable guys. Two gifted guys. Both with great opportunities. Both made serious mistakes but one was accepted and one was rejected.

No, God didn’t accept either one because they were good people. So why did God accept David and reject Saul? Why did King Saul ultimately lose the fight? Why did David win?

Saul was marked by pride. Here he is in the middle of battle, enemies pressing in, the people freaking out, God had given strict orders to wait on the prophet to offer sacrifices before fighting.

It was the waiting that surfaced his unbelief. God allowed it to go way past 11:59. Saul took matters into his own hands, thinking the end justified the means. He thought being king meant he could do stuff reserved for the prophet. Wouldn’t you know it, right when he offered the sacrifice the prophet Samuel shows up — oops!

Another time Saul is told to utterly destroy everything under the ban, people and animals. Instead he thinks he’ll show more compassion than God and spare the best of the sheep, oxen and the opposing King. It is never good to think you are more compassionate than God, let alone to try and show it.

We all have a bit of King Saul in us. For sure we are tempted in the same ways though the context is a bit different.

We take matters into our own hands when waiting gets uncomfortable. We may not be offering sacrifices, but we might use the force of our personality to “hurry things up.” We might do something stupid because we feel ripped off. Just a few weeks ago I heard about a “Christian” businessman who went to jail for defrauding investors. It is amazing how easily the human mind can justify terrible things when the heat gets turned up.

Sometimes people in our lives are about to get to the end of the rope and turn around, but we are there to rescue. God knows real change can’t happen until they hit bottom. But we’re there to “help” and keep them from facing the music. They start to feel pain and we can’t take it. We pridefully think we’ll show compassion where God isn’t.

So studying the life of Saul can bring insights to the battle we are engaged in. We can justify and rationalize. We can live in many forms of denial.

Or we can allow Jesus to “bring to death” our own “Saulish” tendencies by confessing them and humbling ourselves.

Next post we’ll look at King David.

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