Funerals can be a difficult affair when those who have died were not known as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear as to the fate of those that deny the grace of God given exclusively through Jesus Christ. Those who deny the gift of the Father by rejecting the Son will be eternally separated from the Father in hell. There is no getting around it. While many false teachers have tried to remove scriptures and teachings from the contents of the Bible, the truth remains clear. While many have sought to take things out of context to propose a more favorable end for all people, the true teachings of the Bible are not a mystery. People can clamor, complain, and lie about God’s judgment all they want. Clamoring, complaining and lying doesn’t change truth. God is holy. God is righteous. God is just. The fundamental basis of His promises is predicated on His judgment of darkness, sin, and death. Those who deny His salvation will fall as victims of God’s judgment, being God’s enemies according to darkness. Biblical history proves this as true.
The book of 1 Samuel does not end happily. The testimony of 1 Samuel ends in morbid fashion because the hearts of the people in Israel did not change. The testimony of 1 Samuel showed that the children of Israel desired the world and the affections of the flesh more than God and His promises. God allowed them to pursue the affections of their heart as well as suffer the consequences of such a pursuit. God warned the children of Israel that the world and the flesh end in destruction and shame. The children of Israel didn’t believe God’s Word and judgments to be true, but the testimony of Saul proved to be a powerful illustration that God’s Word is always true!
In 1 Samuel 31:8-13 the Bible documents the gruesome end of Saul’s life. When Saul died, the Bible explains that the Philistines found his body and tortured it. Saul wanted to kill himself before the Philistines got to him to avoid torture and shame. The scriptures show that Saul’s body was tortured and shamed nonetheless. The Philistines cut off Saul’s head, removed his armor, and then hung his body on the wall of the temple of their false god, Beth Shean. The Philistines likewise found the bodies of Saul’s sons and did the same with them. They also took Saul’s armor and put it in the temple of their false god Ashtoreth. Though Saul was dead, his body and his possessions were placed amongst the false pagan gods of those who destroyed him. The Philistines took the body and possessions of Saul and placed them amongst their gods as trophies making it seem as if their gods were powerful to bring Saul, his sons, and the children of Israel down.
Though valiant men in Israel eventually raided the Philistines to reclaim the bodies of Saul and his sons, the details of 1 Samuel 31:8-13 are important to consider. It is true that Saul’s body and the bodies of his sons were reclaimed, burnt, and buried within the boarders of Israel in a peaceful manner, but it is impossible to dismiss the horrific details that scripture provides about how Saul’s body was treated by the Philistines. These details are not included in scripture for trivial reasons. God, the Author of all scripture, wants His people to understand a very important truth.
Those who deny God will inevitably end up falling victim in shame to the very affections of the flesh that one pursued in place of God.
The Bible teaches that sin is as a snare and a trap. The flesh is attracted to certain things that God proclaims as dangerous and deadly, but the flesh desires these things nonetheless. They look good according to the flesh, but are damaging to the soul. The affections of the flesh are traps. They lure us in only to cause our demise. The saddest part about it is that in order to pursue the affections of the flesh, we have to deny God in the process. The scriptures teach that God does not tempt people and cannot Himself be tempted. The wisdom of God is first pure, which means that it is not corrupted by sin in any sort of way, and does not lead to sin in any sort of way. Therefore, when a person seeks to tickle the affections of their flesh, they must first depart from the wisdom of God and the purity that His wisdom provides. A person must deny the holiness of God in order to pursue the corruption of the flesh. This is what happened to Saul.
Saul denied God on a number of occasions. He became focused on feeding the affections of his flesh as the king and did not seek God in any way. He sought after the Lord’s anointed to kill him, and was responsible for the murder of many of God’s servant priests. Saul wanted to live life his way, not God’s way. Thus, in order to live according to his standards rather than God’s standards, Saul had to turn his back on God. When Saul turned his back on God, the Lord let him, and warned him about the consequences of his foolishness. The testimony of 1 Samuel 31:8-13 merely documents the fulfillment of God’s warning that He gave long before. Saul was tortured and shamed by the enemy because He had departed from the protection of God. Saul’s body was lifted up as a trophy to false gods because Saul would not humble himself before the Lord God Almighty. Saul was humiliated, even in his death, because he rejected the life that God freely offers to all that humbly come to Him.
The outcome of Saul’s life is not a fluke. The scripture provide testimonies of documented history showing similar fates to the many others that have denied God, His protection, and His provision in order to live life their own way, apart from the righteousness of God. The shameful and horrific torture of Saul’s body serves as evidence that God’s judgment is real. Jesus plainly said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad (Matthew 12:30).” The end of Saul’s testimony certainly reflects the fate of those who are not for Jesus, but are in fact enemies of Jesus. One cannot stand on neutral ground. The final events concerning Saul show that since Saul did not pursue God, he actually pursued the wickedness and evil of false gods. Therefore, it was fitting that his body was treated in the manner it was, and placed in the position the Philistines put it. The abuse of Saul’s body was simply an outward demonstration of the spiritual condition Saul was living in long before his death. While this is a difficult truth for many to deal with and digest, it is the truth of God’s Word nonetheless. Therefore, we would be wise to respond to this truth in humility, seeking God’s forgiveness that He freely offers, not denying His grace, but passionately embracing it while denying the wicked affections of our flesh.
The scriptures pull no punches when illustrating the folly of trusting in people and relying on men and women to solve problems. When people put their hope and trust in other people rather than God, there is always a bitter and morbid end without hope. Additionally, the Bible shows that when people don’t point to God, they inevitably point to another person to put hope into. That person can either be self, or someone else unqualified and unable to truly discern the nature of the problem, let alone address it in the manner of God. This is a sad affair. The Bible shows that when people place trust and hope in self, they teach others how to place trust and hope in flawed human beings. When people place trust and hope in self, they end up leading others to self instead of God so that the outcome of such a dynamic results in bitter endings.
This truth is illustrated in the testimony of Saul. In 1 Samuel 31:1-7 the Bible documents the demise of king Saul as the first king of Israel. God had proclaimed judgment upon Saul long before Saul died, and the scriptures testify that the Word of God was fulfilled exactly as God proclaimed. When Saul set out to battle the Philistines, his army was quickly dismantled. There are a few details to make note of concerning David even though he was not involved in the battle. First, the testimony of 1 Samuel 31:1-7 explains that as Israel fought the Philistines, the men of Israel fell slain on Mount Gilboa. This is a sad reality for the kingship of Saul, but a great relief for the kingship of David. Had God not intervened into David’s circumstances, David would have been part of the attack against Israel, causing his own countrymen to die on Mount Gilboa. David would have been a part of, if not the leader of this great slaughter against Israel. Secondly, the testimony of 1 Samuel 31:1-7 explains that Saul’s three sons, including Jonathan were killed in the battle. Once again, this is a sad affair for Saul’s kingship, but a great relief for David’s. Had God not intervened in David’s circumstances, David would have had a hand in the death of Saul’s sons, his own brothers-in-law, as well as his greatest friend in Jonathan. God delivered David from both of these issues.
As the battle continued, Saul was greatly wounded by archers. The scriptures testify that Saul tried to escape the battle in fear of being tortured by the Philistines if he was found wounded. He and his armor bearer fled, and Saul tried to convince his armor bearer to kill him with a sword. Saul knew he was going to die, but instead of seeking the Lord and His mercy, he sought to administer his own brand of mercy by forcing his armor bearer to mercy-kill him. Saul did not care about the guilt that would have been inflicted upon the armor bearer. Saul did not care about fighting with his men until the end. Saul did not care about the deaths of his sons. Saul only cared about himself up until the end, and exercised his own wisdom, trusting in himself and his ways rather than God’s, until the end. The armor bearer however was too afraid to kill Saul. Therefore, Saul took a sword himself and tried to mercy-kill himself. Saul fell on his own sword.
When the armor bearer saw what Saul had done, he lost hope and he too sought to end his life. He fell on his own sword as well. This detail is important to consider. Saul did not seek God and so had no hope. He ended his own life without hope or promise, and that hopelessness became infectious. The scriptures testify that it was when the armor bearer of Saul recognized Saul’s folly that he operated in the same folly. He followed Saul’s example. The armor bearer saw what the king did, considered it to be right and good on account of Saul’s authority, and followed Saul rather than the Lord. Saul never led Israel to God. Saul’s folly was that he was selfish; and even his pursuits of David were based on his wickedness to hoard the people of Israel to himself. Since Saul didn’t lead the people to God, he led the people to himself by default, and when Saul’s life reached the inevitable point of hopelessness and despair, the people followed him to such a morbid destination. This is exemplified by the actions of Saul’s armor bearer. Additionally, the Bible states that when the rest of Israel’s army heard about Saul, they all forsook the battle and fled. The Philistines utterly destroyed Saul and his entire army because they lacked hope in the Lord, seeking their own wisdom and their own brand of hope to their own demise.
The question then arises, why would God allow His own people to be destroyed and humiliated in such fashion? If God is a God of “love,” why does He allow these types of things to take place? These are simple questions to answer when considering the full context of scripture. First, it is important to remember that when the book of 1 Samuel began, the Lord first revealed Himself as “the Lord of Hosts.” God is the Lord of Armies. He is the sovereign God that controls all things and circumstances. His will is ALWAYS done and no one can contend with Him. God, by His own merciful and gracious nature, desired to make the children of Israel His own special treasure. He offered Himself to intimately dwell with the children of Israel and draw them unto Himself to experience the greatest form of love known to mankind. Israel denied God. Instead, they pursued the affections of their flesh and the world by worshiping the false gods and idols of the pagan nations that surrounded them. This led them to desire to be like other nations instead of desiring the things of God.
The children of Israel clamored for a king like the pagan nations that surrounded them. God warned them of their desire, but the people persisted. Therefore, God elected to exercise His sovereignty to show the children of Israel the folly of seeking to be like “the world” rather than a child of God. God wanted to provide a contrast between His leadership and the leadership of men. God wanted to show what happens when people put their trust in other people. Thus, God placed Saul in the position of king according to the desire of Israel. God selected Saul because he represented everything that Israel wanted according to outward appearance. Though God warned Israel that Saul would be a failure, Israel celebrated the inauguration of Saul when he became king. When Saul became king, he showed that everything God had warned about was true. Saul was a failure of a king, and rather than leading the people to God, Saul led the people to himself and eventually showed he was unable to do what God is able to do – provide peace, hope, and promise.
God didn’t put Israel in the position of defeat. It was Israel’s rejection of God to follow a man that put them in a position of compromise. When the children of Israel followed God according to the leadership of Joshua, they won every battle. When the children of Israel departed from the Lord to place their hope and trust in a man like the rest of the world, they were subject to the same consequences the rest of the world faced – defeat. The testimony of 1 Samuel 31:1-7 shows that those who deny the Lord to go about life on their own according to their own wisdom and understanding, end up in positions of morbid hopelessness. Though the Bible does not teach that suicide will condemn a person to hell, it is important to recognize that Saul’s attempt at suicide was on account of him trusting in himself rather than seeking the Lord God of Israel. His hopelessness begot more hopelessness so that Israel as a whole was demoralized and governed by fear. When people chose to live according to self and govern self rather than seek and submit to God, this is the inevitable result. Though all hopelessness doesn’t result in suicide as with Saul and his armor bearer, it is impossible to find hope outside of the One that provides hope, which always leads to a bitter end.
When the Lord provides an increase, it is important that God’s people act responsibly with it. After all, the Bible teaches that we are merely stewards of God’s own possessions. All good things come from God. The Bible explains that God does not provide increase so that His people can lavish themselves with the excess according to the selfish desires of the flesh. God does not provide extra so that His people can become gluttons and hoard possessions to themselves, storing up treasures on earth. God provides some people with excess in order that they would share with those in need the way God does. God does not hoard His possessions to Himself. Rather, took the form of flesh so that He could die, thereby offering forgiveness of sins and peace between Himself and believers, enabling Him to share His inheritance with His children. Therefore, as God’s children that are filled with His Spirit, we should treat our possessions the same as our Father does.
When dealing with the Lord’s possessions, it is especially important to see things from the perspective of the Lord to ensure that His resources are going to the right places. For example, if an increase should come your way, how was that increase made possible? Were there people that God used to sustain previous needs until the excess came? Were there people involved in the distribution of the increase? In other words, who did God use to put you in a position to receive abundance? If God used people as tools to bring an increase, aren’t they equally as worthy to share in God’s blessings having been used by God to bless you?
The reality is that, thinking this way requires one to die to self. Many people think only of themselves when they receive an increase. They are not willing to share that which is ultimately God’s with any of God’s people. They are not willing to acknowledge the people God used as tools to provide the increase. Simply put, many are not willing to acknowledge God for the increase, and only consider personal desires and affections when an increase is provided. The testimony of David in 1 Samuel 30:26-31 shows that it is good to consider those who God uses to take us along life. The Bible explains that after David and his men destroyed the Amalekite army, there were a ton of spoils to go around. God allowed David and his men to recover all of that which was taken from them, and then some! There was plenty of spoils to go around, and David ensured that each person had an equal share in the spoils that God provided. David acknowledged that God provided the victory, which enabled the people to receive spoils. Without God, there would have been nothing, so David was sure to include everyone as equal recipients of God’s grace.
The testimony of 1 Samuel 30:26-31 also explains that David took some of the spoil and sent it to the elders of Judah. Though David had been dwelling with the enemy Philistines for a year, he remembered his friends that had helped him during that time. Though David was making preparations to war against Israel earlier in the week, the circumstances that God orchestrated by His sovereign hand caused David to remember his own people. David desired to provide increase to those who had helped him live. David recognized God’s people, and recognized the tools God used to sustain him and his men. Without the help of David’s friends, where would David and his men had been while they were running from Saul? David and his men had grown accustomed to roaming around the southern region of Judah, and the people of Judah let him. Though David was dwelling with the Philistines, these men of Judah were willing to look past that, examine the circumstances of David with compassion, and helped him. When David received his increase from the Lord, he didn’t just think of himself. He remembered the overall body of work God did to get him to the place of victory. David remembered the people God had used to lead him to the victory he was enjoying at the time. Rather than indulge his own flesh, David took some of the spoils and sent them as gifts to the elders of the cities that helped him along the way – eleven cities in all.
The amount that David gave to these eleven cities would have been a significant portion. It is important to recognize that David took from the portion that he and his men would have had in order to give unto these helpful cities. David was willing to sacrifice his own portion to honor and thank those who had sustained him and comforted him in a time of need. David wasn’t just thinking about himself. David was thinking of the overall work God had done over the year to keep David alive and away from serious danger. David’s gesture towards these eleven cities was more of a tribute to God, honoring His sovereignty. Thus, David provides a good example of how the children of God should deal with the victories and increases that God provides according to His grace. If we are indeed thankful to the Lord for our increase, we should acknowledge the work God did and the people He used to provide and express that gratitude in the manner that David did in order to ultimately honor God.
When the Lord gives to His people, it is important that His people recognize that all of God’s gifts are given on the foundation of grace. The Bible teaches that none are righteous and that all fall short of the glory of God. The Bible teaches that each and every person has offended God with sin, and that all people are conceived in sin, making it impossible to please Him apart from His own righteousness. This mans that each and every person deserves judgment and condemnation from God, not gifts and rewards. Nevertheless, the Lord gives gifts and rewards. The will of God is referred to as “the Father,” expressing that God’s gifts are in the temperament of a loving father, and are good in nature. Therefore, the people of God should not look to God’s gifts with a sense of entitlement. The gifts of God should be received with gratitude and humility. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it (1 Corinthians 4:7)?”
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told a parable about a group of laborers and a master that had hired them in order to explain the dynamics of the kingdom of God. Jesus explained that there was a master that went out into the town and found several men standing around. The master inquired of those men, put them to work and promised to pay them a fair wage at the end of the day. The master hired a man at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, and late in the day. When the day was over and it came time for the master to pay the wages, he paid each man the wage they agreed upon. The servants who worked a full day were offended that the man who worked only a while, beginning at the end of the day, was paid the same wage. The master replied that he is able to do whatever he wants with his money, and that the men should not complain about their wages since none of the men would have received anything had the master not engaged them to work. This parable is found in Matthew 20:1-16.
The point of Jesus’ parable was that the Father pays fair wages in salvation in that no person is worthy of the gift that He gave in His Son. When a person enters into the kingdom of heaven, some will enjoy the benefits of God’s promises having lived their whole lives for the Lord. Others will receive the same grace of God unto salvation having lived only a few moments for Him. The point is, neither person is entitled to gripe as the will of the Father. The gift of salvation comes on account of God’s grace. Those who enter into the kingdom of heaven will not enter by merits or works, but by the grace of the Father that was given through the life and blood of the Son. No matter how much one has done unto the Lord, God provides His grace equally unto salvation so that no one is able to boast in His presence.
This principle is illustrated in the Old Testament as well. The scriptures show that, while David was a recipient of God’s grace, he was a man that understood the nature of the favor that he received. In 1 Samuel 30:21-25 the Bible explains that David had to intervene in the distribution of spoils after they had successfully destroy the Amalekite army and recovered all that was taken from them. The scriptures explain that David and his men were able to recover all that was taken, but also acquired an abundance of spoils from the victory that the Lord provided. The Bible testifies that there were some men amongst David’s camp that saw the abundance of spoils and grew greedy over them. The Bible actually refers to these men as “wicked and worthless men,” or in the original transcripts, “men of Belial.” This was an idiom used to express the materialistic nature of the men. They desired to be rich and wealthy in material goods, fulfilling all of the lusts of their flesh. The scriptures testify that this group of men sought to horde the spoils that God provided to themselves.
When David and his men set out to pursue the Amalekites according to God’s command, David left two hundred men behind. The Bible explains that those men were too weary to make the journey since they had traveled three days straight from the region of Jezreel, making preparations to fight with the Philistines against the children of Israel. David did not want to force these men into battle while fatigued. David trusted God’s promise of victory, and went to pursue the Amalekites with four hundred men rather than six hundred men. After the Lord brought the victory to David, the Bible explains that some of the men that went to fight looked at the two hundred men that stayed behind with despise. They figured that since they didn’t go fight, they shouldn’t be entitled to share in the spoils. These “men of Belial” suggested to David that they should have their families restored unto them, but should not receive anything additional. They stood on the foundation of “fairness” since they didn’t make the journey to fight and did not risk their lives as those in combat.
At first glance, this might seem like sound logic. The men that pursued the Amalekites and actually engaged against them did risk more. However, the Bible’s reference to this group of men as “wicked and worthless men” shows that their motives were not to be fair. Their motives were to be greedy. They didn’t want to include the two hundred men that stayed behind in the spoils so that they could take the excess to themselves. This is wrong, and David recognized it. David plainly told the men that their perspective was wrong. The spoils were not theirs to horde. The increase that the men saw was not theirs to determine themselves who would increase more. David reminded the people that the spoils were the Lords. He was the One that gave the spoil. He was the One that preserved the men in battle. He was the One that delivered the men unto victory. Without God, the men would have been without their wives and children still, let alone any excess spoils! Like Paul said, the men did not possess anything they had not received from God. Therefore, David expected the men to respond in humble gratitude regarding the spoils, not selfish greed.
David understood his own position of grace. David seemingly recognized that he was in a position of compromise, and the Lord preserved his integrity, his safety, his spiritual well-being, and delivered him from the hand of the enemy – twice in the same circumstances! It is likely that David recognized that he had failed, and was overwhelmed by the favor that God had provided. David deserved death, but was given restoration AND increase by the grace of God. David didn’t deserve to be reunited to his wives, let alone receive a greater abundance. David’s men were in the same position. They were all men of pity and folly that received a monumental dose of God’s grace. Therefore, David made a decree and law that stated how the spoils of war should be handled moving forward. Since God’s grace was evenly distributed to the men as they ALL share in His victory, the spoils should be evenly distributed as well. David made it law that each man was to respond according to the grace that God had first showed. Thus, when God provides increase, the people of God would do well to respond in the same manner of grace that God first does, by sharing the increase with the brothers and sisters in need that the Lord has entrusted to them, rather than horde the excess in selfish greed to build one’s own enterprise according to fleshly lusts and desires.
When the Lord makes a promise, we can trust that it will come to pass because God is sovereign. The better understanding we have of God’s sovereignty, the clearer it is to see that God’s sovereignty enables God’s faithfulness. God is able to fulfill all of His promises at any given time because He is supremely in control of all things. He is able to manufacture any set of circumstances in which the outcome results in the fulfillment of His Word! Thus, as we examine the contents of scripture and its documented history, it is important to pay attention to the examples of God’s sovereignty over people and circumstances. It is when we recognize these facets of God’s power and control that we learn to rejoice in the outcome of God’s work BEFORE He completes it, knowing that He is able to do exactly as He says on account of His power.
The testimony of David shows this teaching to be true in history in an awesome way. In 1 Samuel 30:9-20 the Bible explains that David prepared to pursue the Amalekite army that had raided the city he was staying in while dwelling with the Philistines. David and his men were living in Ziklag, which was a Philistine city, and while they were preparing to fight against Israel with the Philistines, the Amalekites raided David’s family and the families of his people. The Amalekites kidnapped the wives and children of David and his men, and took their possessions as spoils before burning their homes. David inquired of God if he should pursue the Amalekites, and God gave David the green light. He explained that David should pursue the Amalekites and assured David that they would have victory and be fully restored.
In 1 Samuel 30:9-20 the Bible explains that David assembled his men to pursue the Amalekites. Though he had six hundred men with him, he allowed two hundred men to stay behind on account of fatigue. David did not fear the circumstances with fewer men. David was not afraid to pursue and engage the Amalekites even though his resources were nearly cut in half. He did not try and convince the tired men to suck it up in order to have larger numbers. He let the fatigued men stay behind and trusted that the Lord would provide victory according to His promise regardless of the amount of resources he brought with him.
As David and his men went to hunt the Amalekites, the scriptures testify that David’s men found an Egyptian man in a field that was sick and hungry. The scriptures explain that the man was actually a servant of an Amalekite man, but got sick while on accompanying him on the raid they conducted on Ziklag. Since the Egyptian was sick, the Amalekite man left the Egyptian behind to die in the wilderness. David’s men found the Egyptian and restored him to health. The Bible testifies that David’s men gave the man some bread, some water, a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins. The man’s strength was restored and was grateful to David’s men. The Egyptian explained his circumstances to David. He explained that he was actually with the Amalekites that raided David’s home and took his family and the families of his men. The servant explained that he was a witness to the pillaging and burning of Ziklag and knew where the Amalekites were. David asked the Egyptian if he would lead him and his men to the Amalekites, and the Egyptian agreed so long as David promised to keep him safe.
The Egyptian was faithful to his word and led David and his men to the Amalekites. David and his men were able to forge an attack against them, and the Bible declares that they were able to destroy every Amalekite with the exception of a couple hundred young men that fled away on camels. The Bible is specific to mention that David recovered ALL that the Amalekites had carried away. David’s two wives were restored back to David. The wives and children of David’s men were restored fully intact. David took al of the flocks and herds and livestock that had been taken from them, and was even able to claim more as spoils of the victory. God was faithful to fulfill His promise!
It is important to recognize God’s involvement in the circumstances. It was not by coincidence that David’s men found the Egyptian as they pursued the Amalekites. It was not by coincidence that the Egyptian was with the Amalekites that raided David and his men and knew where they were going. It was not by coincidence that the Egyptian servant was wronged by the Amalekites but treated mercifully by David so that the Egyptian would not feel bad leading David to the Amalekites. God worked ALL of these things together to fulfill His promise. The testimony of 1 Samuel is all about God’s sovereignty. Throughout the book, God revealed Himself as “the Lord of Hosts,” that is, the Master of all armies and resources dealing with conflicts. God is able to control people as people control chess pieces. God is able to facilitate any circumstances to result in an outcome that fulfills His promises. God caused the Egyptian to get sick, be unmercifully left behind by the Amalekite, left in the path of David, and then willing to help David find and destroy the Amalekites. Additionally, it is important to recognize that David was previously preparing for battle against his own people with the Philistines. So while God was powerful to fulfill His promise of restoration, He was also faithful to protect the spiritual integrity of His people as well through the same circumstances! This is the Lord God Almighty – the Lord of Hosts!
The magnitude of God’s grace is difficult to comprehend. God’s grace is so great! It is immeasurable! The scriptures explain that Jesus came into the world full of grace and truth; and while He died, He rose from the dead on the third day showing that God’s grace is infinite! The scriptures teach that salvation comes according to the grace of God. It is by His grace that we are saved. Consider how many people have been saved, and how grace was the means by which that salvation took place. That is a whole lot of grace. Yet God’s grace continues even in salvation. The scriptures state that God’s grace is sufficient to cover over sins that are committed even when we’re saved. Since we continue to sin and make mistakes even while saved and seeking to live for the Lord, He continues to pour out favor that we do not deserve, even though He already poured out enough to rescue us from His wrath. These are incredible truths that should cause the children of God to respond in humility and gratitude.
This extent of God’s grace can be seen through the testimony of David. In 1 Samuel 30:1-8 the Bible explains that when David was sent away from the Philistines as they were preparing to battle against Israel in Jezreel, a great tragedy had taken place. While David and his men were with the Philistine army preparing to fight against the children of Israel, the Amalekites had invaded Ziklag, the town where David and his men took residence amongst the Philistines. The Bible testifies that the Amalekites took the wives and children of David and all of his men, then burned their houses. When David returned to his home three days after departing from the battleground in Jezreel, he found his home burned, both of his wives kidnapped, and the families of his men taken as well.
Needless to say, the people were distraught. The scriptures declare that the men of David wept before the Lord until they had no more energy. They were angry with David and some even expressed a desire to stone David. They felt it was David’s fault since he was the one that partnered with the Philistines, taking them away from their families to fight against their own countrymen. This caused David to be distraught and so he sought the Lord. Though David’s strength was taken from him by the circumstances, the scriptures explain that David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” He called for the priest Abiathar and called him to bring the ephod so that he could seek the Lord according to the Law. David knew the circumstances were well beyond his means, and he needed his Savior and Deliverer to respond according to His faithfulness.
The Bible testifies that David inquired of God and asked if he should pursue the Amalekites that took their families and possessions, and destroyed their homes. It is important to note that, while David was distraught and shocked by the circumstances to the point that he was absent strength, he did not respond according to his flesh. He did not respond according to impulse to seek revenge as he had in the past as with Nabal. David did not seek to take matters into his own hands to deliver his own brand of justice. Instead, David sought the Lord to know what He wanted. If the Lord would have told David to let it go, the scriptures suggest that David would have found contentment in that command, seeking for God’s will to be done, not his own. However, God told David to go pursue the Amalekites, and assured David that he would recover everything they had lost.
Here it is important to recognize God’s grace and the magnitude of it. When considering David’s previous position against Israel, it is important to know that the Amalekites were able to take the families of David and his men because they were in a place they shouldn’t have been. This is similar to the circumstances that Saul caused. The Philistines found opportunities to attack the children of Israel when Saul was not manning his post as king, but instead off chasing David with Israel’s best warriors, according to his selfish and wicked desires. Like Saul, David was not where he was supposed to be. David was anointed by God to be the next king of Israel. As an heir to the throne and the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David was not supposed to be dwelling with the Philistines. David most certainly was not supposed to be preparing to battle against his own people, getting ready to kill the people of God. It was because David was doing these things that his family and the families of his men were left vulnerable. The Amalekites had an opportunity to attack because David and his men were preoccupied with duties that were outside of God’s will.
Though David was out of position from God’s will, and even preparing to cause harm against God’s people and ruin his own life, the Lord provided favor. God not only removed David from the battle to preserve the integrity of David, but also encouraged David to attack the Amalekites, assuring him that all of their families and possessions would be restored. David didn’t deserve this favor. The tragic circumstances that David and his men faced were simply the natural consequences of bad decisions that they made. David and his men were simply reaping what they sowed. Yet God was willing to restore David and his men. God was willing to equip David for victory. God was willing to correct David’s path and engage him in a more fruitful purpose, whether David understood that or not. David was rebelling against God, but didn’t really see things that way, and yet still God was patient with David, and nurtured him back into obedience. This is the way God works. He does not excuse fault without consequence, but clearly is willing to rear His children back into His will and engage them with more fruitful purpose to restore His people back into favor.
The Bible teaches that everything reproduces of its own kind. Fig trees produce figs. Monkeys produce monkeys. People produce people. Evil produces evil. Righteousness produces righteousness. This means that when the people of God try to obey the commands of God on the foundation of compromise, more compromise will inevitably follow. Compromise produces more compromise. Disobedience produces more disobedience. The frightening thing is that when a child of God compromises, there is a tendency to grow comfortable in such compromise so that the next opportunities to compromise come much more easily and with less consideration of God and the effects of denying Him. This means that, since compromise causes one to be separated from God, unless one repents from compromise, one can easily and quickly slide a great distance from God without even realizing it. Thankfully, God is sovereign over all circumstances and is faithful to keep His people as His own; doing the work that needs to be done to maintain the spiritual integrity of His people to ensure they remain His.
The testimony of David provides a great illustration of this principle. In 1 Samuel 29:1-11 the Bible explains that the Philistines made efforts to launch a huge offensive attack against the children of Israel. The Philistines and the children of Israel were great enemies, and the Philistines sought to from in battle to end the fight once and for all. The scriptures explain that the Philistines gathered together “all of their armies.” Not a single soldier was left behind. The Philistines put together all of their resources in hopes to totally destroy Israel. They gathered every man and every weapon in Jezreel and waited for the armies of the children of Israel to assemble. Unfortunately, amongst the Philistine army was David and his men. David was still living with the Philistines and serving king Achish as if a Philistine himself. David was also assembled amongst the Philistine armies, armed and prepared to wage war against the children of Israel. Though David was anointed by God, hand selected by Him to be the next king of Israel, David and his men were armed and ready to slay God’s people with the Philistines, not considering the anointing that God had placed upon him.
As the lords of the Philistines examined their military resources in preparations, they saw David and freaked out. They immediately approached Achish and asked why David was there. The lords of the Philistines did not like the idea of David fighting alone side of the Philistines. They knew David to be a great warrior. They knew David was at one time a faithful servant of Saul. They knew that David’s men were Jews at heart. They did not like the possibility of David and his men turning on the Philistines in the middle of the battle in order to fight with their countrymen. They thought that David’s betrayal was inevitable. Though Achish made efforts to validate David, it did him no good. Achish tried to comfort the lords of the Philistines by saying that David had been faithful to the Philistines over the years, serving them as needed, and that he had no reason not to trust that David would remain faithful to the Philistines. The lords of the Philistines would not have it. They demanded that David be sent away from the battle, and Achish was forced to comply.
The scriptures explain that Achish called David to talk to him. He told David that the lords were not comfortable with David being in the battle since they didn’t trust David’s allegiance. Here, the Lord was clearly providing a way of escape. The Lord was exercising His sovereignty to leverage the discomfort of the Philistine lords to separate David from evil. God was trying to take David out of the position of compromise that he had already put himself in. God was trying to preserve the integrity of David. God had selected and anointed David to be the next king of Israel, and the start of the Messianic kingship as the first king from Judah. God’s plan would not fail. David’s foolishness would not overrun God’s providence. Thus, God did what needed to be done for David to be taken from the battle, not being forced to fight against and kill his own people. Yet when Achish approached David to inform him of the decision of the lords, David was offended! He actually wanted to fight with the Philistines. He actually objected and told Achish that he had been faithful and could be useful. He tried to plead his case to fight with the enemies of Israel against God’s own people!
It is terrifying to consider this idea. The hero of Israel that once defeated the Philistine champion Goliath was actually trying to lobby to remain part of the Philistine army to fight against God’s people that were his own people. How does this happen? How was David blind to the sovereignty of the Lord to provide a way of escape from a terrible situation if David was a man after God’s own heart? Was David really willing to fight against his people as a true enemy of Israel? Was David really willing to kill God’s people? These are the dangers that compromise presents. David first compromised when he sought refuge amongst the enemy when he was running from Saul. Rather than embracing the difficulties of persecution, he sought to find comfort in the midst of the enemy. The very people that God commanded the children of Israel to destroy, David sought to make his home with. That decision caused him to compromise more. In order to live peacefully amongst the Philistines, David had to present himself as a servant of Achish and prove himself faithful to the Philistines. David had to prove himself faithful to the enemies of God’s people. This led to even more compromise. David, being convicted about raiding his own people on behalf of the Philistines, raided other people groups in the name of the Philistines, but lied about his works. Compromise was truly reproducing more compromise.
Thankfully, God’s sovereignty is greater than human foolishness and stubbornness. David was blind to God’s intervention, but God’s intervention would be fruitful nonetheless. Though Achish continued to trust David, and agreed with David regarding his value to the Philistine army, he was forced to honor the demands of the lords and sent David off. David still had integrity with the king of the Philistines, but was ultimately removed from the battle. The Bible states that David and his men got up early the next morning and headed back to their homes while the Philistines prepared to engage Israel in Jezreel. God was faithful. Though David expressed no faith, wisdom, or dependence on the Lord at that time, the Lord interceded as the Lord of Hosts to drive David away from evil. Seeing that David was liable to make a tragic decision that would haunt him his whole life, God removed him from the arena of that decision. This is the second time that God did such a thing. Recall that when David wanted to kill Nabal, God sent Abigail as His messenger to stop David from making another foolish decision.
It is true that the testimony of David ultimately shows a faithful man that desired God greatly. However, the scriptures are candid to show that David had issues, and hand it not been for the sovereign hand of the Lord God Almighty, David would have had FAR MORE controversy as part of his testimony than he already does. The Lord protects His people and the Bible shows that behind the faith of every child of God is the sovereign hand of the Lord, ensuring that the foolishness, folly, stubbornness, and spiritual blindness of His people does not cause utter ruin according to His purposes to use us and be one with us. This testimony shows that, while faith may suffice to make us children of God, even as children of God we can see that issues remain. Therefore, we should be humble and continually dependent on God to protect us from the weaknesses of our flesh that lead us to compromise. We should continually be thankful for the grace of God that keeps us in the possession of God, no matter how far off it might seem like our flesh has led us. We should submit to God, embrace His righteous commands, and trust that compromise is dangerous to the degree that God uses a great deal of power and resources to keep us joined to Him.
It is critical for the children of God to understand that the deception of the devil is quite effective! The Bible explains that the devil is the father of lies. The Bible explains that Satan was an anointed cherub, set before the throne of God as a beautiful angel that proclaimed the holiness of God, night and day. This means that the devil is spiritual in nature. He is God’s creation, but has been around since the beginning. He was in the Garden of Eden before Adam was. Following the genealogies of the Bible, we come to understand that the world is about seven thousand years old. The devil has been on this earth causing ruin since then! Additionally, the Book of Job shows that God even gives Satan permission to inflict certain degrees of pain and torment according to God’s administration and control. All of these things mean that as people, we are completely unable to fight against the wiles of the devil and his demons on our own. How do you fight against an enemy you cannot see, that has seven thousand years of experience in crafty deception, and has the permission of God to inflict pain? This means that as people, we need to be TOTALLY dependent on the Lord God Almighty to withstand the attacks and deception of the devil. Without the Lord, we are dead.
This truth is proven through the testimony of Saul. It is terrifying to see how the enemy can present himself as an angel of light, lacing his lies with truth in order to lead people into destruction! In 1 Samuel 28:15-25 the Bible explains that Saul had an encounter with a demon that disguised itself as Samuel the prophet. The scriptures explain that God rejected Saul in 1 Samuel Chapter 15. As time went on, Saul continued to rebel against God by seeking to destroy God’s people. Thus, when the Philistines sought to fight against the children of Israel and Saul sought comfort and assurance for victory from the Lord, the Lord was silent. The scriptures state that the Lord would not respond to Saul directly, through visions, dreams, or through any of the remaining prophets. Therefore, Saul sought other means to appease his flesh with comfort concerning the coming attack from the Philistines.
The Bible explains that Saul sought a medium, that is, a woman that used witchcraft to summons dead spirits. Though Saul had removed and killed all of the witches from Israel at one time according to God’s Law, he later sought one in order to gratify the desires of his flesh. Saul was willing to go against previous convictions in order to gain a form of wisdom that comforted his flesh, even if that form of wisdom was demonic in nature. When the woman brought up the spirit, the scriptures explain that Saul never saw the spirit. He had to ask the woman what she saw. She stated that she saw an old man wearing a mantle, and Saul assumed that it was Samuel since that was the person he demanded the medium summon. Though Saul had to inquire twice from the woman about the form she was seeing, Saul was deceived by his own desire to comfort his flesh regarding his circumstances, and made the false assumption that Samuel had come from the dead to speak to him.
This portion of scripture has confused many people throughout the ages. People often wonder, did Saul actually speak to Samuel? Did the medium raise the spirit of Samuel to confront Saul? Did God respond to Saul through Samuel, or was the spirit Saul spoke to something else? Many have tried to rationalize the idea that God spoke to Saul through the spirit of Samuel out of fear of the idea that Saul was fooled by a demon. It is after all a terrifying idea that a demonic spirit would be able to engage with and sway someone so easily. Yet, if the Bible teaches as it does about the devil, the engagement that Saul had with a demonic spirit should not come as a surprise. To confirm Saul’s conversation with the spirit as an encounter with a demon, it is important to examine the details of scripture.
The Bible does refer to the demon as “Samuel.” This does not necessarily mean that the spiritual entity is Samuel since demonic spirits take many forms and names as seen in the scriptures; and do so with the objective to deceive, steal, kill, and destroy. Recall that Saul was cut off from God in 1 Samuel Chapter 15. Saul made it clear that he sought after Samuel, not God. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that the enemy is referred to as Samuel in order to deceive and destroy Saul. When the spirit first addressed Saul, he said, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” This first statement is a large clue to point to the fact that Saul was addressing a demonic entity, and not the spirit of Samuel. First, recall that the spirit was brought up by a medium. According to the Law, God considered mediums and spiritists to be abominations and commanded that they be removed from the land of Israel by killing them. Why then would a faithfully obedient and righteous servant of the Lord obey and submit to the commands of a medium, even while dead? If Samuel was a servant of God while alive on this earth, why would he submit to the wiles of the devil while being comforted in the bosom of Abraham in the afterlife? Since when do children of God submit to and obey the commands of the devil in scripture?
Secondly, Saul’s response to the spirit provides more evidence that the entity he spoke with was demonic, and not the spirit of Saul. Saul confessed that he had passively sought the Lord about the Philistine attack, but that the Lord had remained silent, had departed from him, and would not answer Saul directly, in dreams, or by prophets. God had truly cut off communication from Saul. Since Saul confessed this himself, it is important to consider the following points. If God was silent towards Saul, why would the spirit of Samuel rebel against God’s intentions by responding to Saul? Why would the spirit of Samuel open his mouth when God was determined to keep His quiet? This is rebellion. Why would the faithful servant of God rebel against Him in the afterlife? More importantly, why would Saul not consider these truths himself? Why would Saul think that, while the Lord God Almighty was determined to be silent, the spirit of Samuel would transcend God’s authority and desire to come from the grave and provide helpful insights? Clearly Saul did not know God, and was fully exposed to deception being separated from God.
The details confirm that Saul did not engage with the spirit of Samuel. That is an impossible conclusion to come to. There is no other portion of scripture that shows the true servants of God directly opposing the declared Word and will of God in this manner without a response from God. Yet Samuel is revered for his faithfulness as a hero of faith in Hebrews Chapter 11. This means that Saul must have been engaging with a demon, and because he had departed from the Word of God, was open and highly vulnerable to the devil’s deception. The testimony of 1 Samuel 28:15-25 shows just how easy it is to believe in the lies of the enemy when the desires of our flesh and worldly comfort are greater than our desires for the Lord and His promises. The demonic spirit addressed Saul by speaking truths that God had already proclaimed in 1 Samuel Chapter 15. In 1 Samuel Chapter 15 the Bible explains that God communicated through Samuel, and stated that He would no longer be with Saul as king. He told Saul that the kingship would be given over to David and that his demise would be inevitable. Saul expressed distress over this truth, but never sought repentance or forgiveness from the Lord. Therefore, Saul never received it.
The demon that spoke to Saul restated the same things that God had already proclaimed through Samuel. This shows that demons will use the proclamations of God and the words that He speaks through His servants to deceive those who live separated from the Lord. The devil will seek to disguise his lies by surrounding them with truths of God’s Word. Those who are not humbly and faithfully connected to the Lord have no way to discern what is true and what is false since wisdom to know these things only comes from God. Saul was not connected to God because he felt his will was better than God’s. Since Saul was disconnected from God, he lacked wisdom, which crippled his ability to discern true from false, and was willing to heed the words of demons disguised as men of God. The demon rested that Saul was cut off from God, that David would assume the kingship, but also that Israel would be destroyed in the battle against the Philistines. The demon told Saul that he and his sons would die against the Philistines, but also that the Philistines would utterly destroy Israel.
The words of the demon greatly distressed Saul so that he was unwilling to eat for some time. The medium tried to get Saul to eat, but at first he was unwilling. He was paralyzed with fear. While the Word of God is known to strike fear into the hearts of God’s faithful, such fear is never discouraging to the point of paralysis. The fear that the Lord inflicts is meant to encourage repentance unto salvation, or God’s perfect judgment. The Word of God is intended to build up the people of God, not tear down. The words of the demon tore Saul down without the opportunity for repentance. After some time, Saul was willing to eat, and the medium was finally able to get him to leave her home, showing that she wanted nothing to do with Saul. The woman slaughtered a fattened calf that she had, cooked it for Saul and his servants, and sent them off. They left that night with the idea that Israel would be brought to ruin by the Philistines, though God Himself had never made that proclamation. This lie from the devil clearly put Saul in a deeper state of distress, hopelessness, and carelessness. This is the aim of the devil, and those who do not faithfully seek the Lord and His righteousness according to the truth of the Word in humble repentance are open to fall into the trap of these lies.
When a person denies the Lord, departs from Him, and refuses to repent to passionately and persistently pursue Him, that person makes themselves open for terrible evils. When Jesus taught His disciples, He plainly said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” This shows that there are only two sides to choose from. We either elect to follow Jesus through repentant faith, or we choose to scatter the people of God in the manner of the devil. Those who have not made decision to faithfully follow Jesus have made the contrary selection by default. Since this type of person would not receive the grace of God through Jesus, that person is vulnerable to terrible evils administered by the devil. Such a person would not have the wisdom of God according to the light God gives, but instead would be confused, distraught, and deceived while living in darkness. Such a person would not have hope. Such a person would not be genuine, transparent, or true. Such a person would live in shame and fear. Such a person would not be led by the Savior into eternal glory and life, but instead led by demonic spirits into condemnation, wickedness, and hell.
These truths are difficult to digest, but they are true nonetheless. The Bible provides historical evidence of these harsh realities. In 1 Samuel 28:7-14 the Bible describes the testimony of Saul and the tragic folly he experienced because he would not seek the Lord. The scriptures explain that the Philistine armies that gathered together to fight against the children of Israel terrified Saul. The Bible describes Saul as a man that relied on his own merits to handle various situations in life. He never sought the counsel of Godly men, including Samuel when he was alive. Likewise, Saul never sought the counsel of God in humility, seeking for His will to be done. As such, Saul was unfamiliar with God, His righteousness, His wisdom, and His patterns of work. When the Philistines prepared to wage war against Israel, Saul sought the Lord for wisdom just one time. When God was silent, Saul did not pursue the Lord with persistence seeking forgiveness. The Bible explains that God did not respond to Saul on account of Saul’s sin. Saul lived for himself, had many priests of God murdered, and diligently sought the life of David. When Saul sought God, he did not seek forgiveness, nor present himself in a humble condition before the Lord. When the Lord responded to Saul according to His holy nature, and remained silent, Saul quickly turned to others means of counsel.
Saul sought a medium, that is, a witch. Since Saul could not seek the comforting wisdom of the Lord, he quickly abandoned the Lord to seek the devil. Here it is important to note the typical human response. When the Lord does not gratify the wicked desires of unfaithful people through convenient means, a common human response is to quickly seek other means that will offer more convenience to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Since Jesus said that there are only two sides to choose from, when we seek any other source of wisdom that is not God’s own wisdom, there is only demonic influence to be found. Saul could not get what he wanted from God, so he went to a witch that was influenced by the devil. To make matters worse, the scriptures provide details that show the extent of hypocrisy that Saul demonstrated in his pursuit of a witch. Saul had to ask his servants if they knew of any witches in the land because Saul had previously put out all of the mediums. Saul knew that the witchcraft these people practiced was evil, and at a time was convicted to do right according to God’s law concerning these people. Saul had these people put to death in order to do what God’s law said concerning mediums. Yet Saul was quickly willing to seek out that which he once despised on account of his rebellion against God.
The scriptures state that the men knew of a woman that lived close by that practiced witchcraft. The Bible testifies that Saul took two men with him, disguised himself, and sought the medium at night. It is important to recognize the characteristics of sin in these details. First, it is important to recognize that Saul went in disguise. Saul was the king of Israel and could not be recognized as one seeking a medium. Sin has a way of causing people to put on disguises. We often feel embarrassed or shameful about sin, so will seek ways to hide our true self when we seek to do so, either by altering our appearance in how we dress, or in altering our conduct with foreign substances that influence how we act. Notice also that Saul did not go alone. It was easier for Saul to commit this evil as long as he had company. He did not take his whole assembly of servants, but selected just two men to provide company and assurance that his wicked actions were doable. Sin loves company. Lastly, Saul did not seek to commit his sin in the light of day, but in the darkness of night. Though bad things happen in the day just the same, the things that people often pursue to indulge the flesh are often “nightlife” activities, that when seen in the bright of day, look foolish, shameful, and convicting. Thus, Saul sought the night to hide his intentions and conduct.
When Saul got to the woman, the woman did not recognize Saul. Saul asked for a séance to bring up someone from the dead. The woman was confident in her ability to do so, but was reluctant to do so on account of the things Saul had done to other mediums in the past. This woman was more afraid about what Saul had done to others than what God would do in His judgment. This woman was more afraid of what would happen to her body than what would happen to her soul. This is often the case of those that separate from God to follow the devil. They buy into the lie that damage to the body is more terrifying that God’s eternal judgment. This woman felt that her involvement in a séance could bring trouble onto her from Saul. She felt the request of her services was a trap leading her to death from Saul. She expressed no concern whatsoever about her fear of the Lord.
When this woman expressed her fear of Saul and his judgment, Saul, still in disguise, assured the witch that she would be fine. Ironically, Saul “swore upon the Lord” that the witch would be safe. Two people that had no concern for the Lord relied upon an oath made to the Lord that their wicked conduct would not be immediately judged. Here it is important to recognize the extent of spiritual and logical blindness that living in darkness produces. Why would someone swear upon the Lord for safety while pursuing the devil? Why would someone rely on the faithful reputation of the Lord to uphold their own word, but not seek Him and His faithfulness for wisdom, protection, or provision? Why would those who live for the flesh, the world, and for darkness, receive an oath made in the Lord’s name if they have no affection or concern for Him? Yet these are the very things that the medium and Saul did. Saul swore to her by the Lord that she would not be punished. Not only did Saul swear upon the Lord in foolishness, but then made an oath that he was not able to keep. Saul previously had mediums killed on behalf of the declarations of God’s law. Saul knew that God would judge mediums, spiritists, and witches, yet promised that this medium would not be punished. This was not true, but Saul did not care. He just wanted to consult her to ease the desires of his flesh.
The woman then confidently asked who Saul wanted her to bring up. She expressed no concern regarding her ability. Her concern was only regarding her safety. She trusted in her enchantments and spells. She only feared the consequence of using them. Saul then told the woman that he wanted her to bring up Samuel. It is interesting to consider Saul’s request. The Bible never shows Saul seeking out Samuel before, yet now that he is dead, Saul recognizes the value that Samuel was. This is often the case that those who despise God’s people do so until they realize the absence of God’s presence that was found in that person. Like the testimony of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke Chapter 16, it is not until it is too late that the enemies of God value the presence of God.
The scriptures then explain that the woman was able to raise up a spirit. The scriptures do not explain how the woman did it. This is important to recognize. The Bible does inform people of evil and the ways to commit it. God forbid Adam from consuming the fruit that provided the knowledge of evil in the Garden of Eden. The Apostle Paul wrote that we should be “simple concerning evil,” meaning that we should remain ignorant of evil. Though some people might be curious to know how this woman was able to do what she did, the Bible does not educate in matters that God condemns. When the spirit came up, the Bible explains that the woman was startled. This was not because she was able to raise the spirit, but because of what she learned from the spirit. The spirit told her that the man she was serving was Saul, the very man that she was afraid of on account of what he had done to other mediums and witches. The woman feared for her life from Saul. She was not afraid of the spirit that she summonsed.
Saul again sought to assure her. He promised that he would not punish her. Now knowing that she had indeed raised a spirit, he was more concerned with knowing the details of what the woman saw. Clearly the spirit was able to reveal his identity despite his disguise. Saul’s intrigue was greater than his previous convictions. There was no way he was going to hurt this woman that was tickling the urges of Saul’s flesh to great curiosity. The woman told Saul that she saw “a spirit ascending out of the earth.” Notice that the woman never said it was Samuel. Also notice that Saul never saw the figure himself. In that he had to ask the woman what she saw proves that Saul never saw the spirit with his own eyes, and so never knew who it was he was engaging with. Saul then asked, “What is his form?” This shows that while he was getting information from the woman, it was not information he could verify with his own eyes. The woman simply told Saul that she saw an old man covered with a mantel. She never told Saul that she saw Samuel. Saul simply made the assumption though there was nothing about the circumstances that suggested a servant of the Lord would respond to a witch that was performing on behalf of a man that God Himself was silent against.
When Saul concluded in his own mind that the spirit the woman raised was Samuel, the Bible explains that he put his face to the ground and bowed down. Saul would not humble himself before the Lord, but was quick to put his face to the ground to hear from Samuel. It was said back then that the spirits spoke from the ground, so Saul likely put his face to the ground to hear the voice of the spirit he thought was Samuel’s. Saul would not passionately pursue the voice of God, but was active in his pursuit of demonic influences. This testimony is important to consider. It is telling of some very dangerous human habits and how the cravings of the flesh can cause people to do some extremely damaging things. A foot in darkness and evil to any degree is dangerous and makes anyone susceptible to great deceptions that lead to destruction. We would all be wise then to humble ourselves before God, denying the affections of our flesh in repentance, to seek the Lord and His righteousness through Jesus in order to escape the dangers of the devil, his lies, and his traps that lead to condemnation and destruction.
There are many confusing messages coming out of the modern church these days. One of the confusing messages that comes out of the church these days is in regards to the grace of God. There are many that are ignorant about God’s grace and how it works. There are many that are ignorant about God’s grace and its relationship to God’s justice and righteousness. There are many who explain certain elements of God’s grace correctly, but sometimes at the expense of His holiness. It is important to understand that while God’s grace is sufficient to abound beyond sin for those who desire God’s forgiveness, God’s grace is NOT an everlasting resource that is available any time a person finds it convenient for their personal gain. God does not provide favor to those who continually reject and rebel against Him. God does not draw near those who are prideful and self-righteous. The Bible is clear to teach that God resists the proud. Therefore, those who think they can manage and navigate through life on their own should expect to do so. God is present, but He will not make His favor available forever. God’s grace is great in magnitude, but those who deny God continually will push Him to a limit in which case His grace is cut off from that individual.
An example of this truth is candidly revealed in the testimony of Saul, the first king of Israel. The Bible explains that Saul was a wicked king, intentionally put in place by God to prove a spiritual point about the depravity of Israel. The children of Israel had sinful desires to want a king to rule over them in place of God. Though the Lord pleaded His case as being a greater leader than any man, the children of Israel desired a man to lead them anyway. They just wanted to be like the pagan nations that surrounded them, and were willing to deny the Lord’s warning to do so. Therefore, God made efforts to teach the children of Israel a lesson. He wanted to show them the consequence that inevitably takes place when any person chooses to please people and follow people rather than God. Nothing good comes out of this, and God was going to use Saul to prove this point.
When God selected Saul to be king, He warned the children of Israel that he would be a miserable leader. They didn’t care. The Bible explains that while Saul looked the part, he was a coward and was extremely selfish. The children of Israel were pleased to have Saul as their king because he was big, tall, and looked good. No one questioned his leadership or his motives because Saul looked like the other pagan kinds. They were satisfied with that. Over time, Saul’s conduct became harmful to the children of Israel. Saul’s selfish pursuits put Israel in positions of danger. While Saul selfishly and wickedly pursued David, the Philistines attacked the children of Israel. Since Saul used the best military resources that Israel had in order to gratify his own selfish and wicked desires against David, Israel was often left vulnerable. The Philistines saw this and were opportunistic. Hence, they were frequently attacking the children of Israel, petering them and causing chaos in the land that God appointed for peace.
In 1 Samuel 28:3-6 the Bible explains that the Philistines were at it again. The prophet Samuel had died and David was dwelling with the Philistines in order to protect his life from Saul. Therefore, there were no spiritual leaders in Israel. There were no men that were committed to seeking the Lord and were servants of the Lord as leaders. There was only Saul. When the Philistines assembled together to fight against the children of Israel, Saul brought his men together as well. However, upon seeing the size of the Philistine army, Saul was terrified. Saul had no spiritual counsel to encourage him. Saul had no relationship to the Lord to call out to him on his own. The scripture also state that previously, Saul had put out all of the spiritists and mediums from the land of Israel as well. Though Saul was a wicked man, there were some noble things that he had done in his past. The Bible provides this detail in order to explain that there was no spiritual refuge available to Saul. Saul was on his own and the presence of the enemy terrified him in a paralyzing manner. His heart trembled greatly.
The scripture testify that Saul reached out to the Lord in desperation. He inquired of the Lord for help and for wisdom, but the Bible candidly states that the Lord did not answer him. The Lord would not respond to Saul in dreams, in visions, by the Urim of the priests, and the Lord sent no prophet to Saul. The Lord had cut communication with Saul off. Saul had brought this upon himself. Saul had denied the wisdom of God when Samuel was around. Saul had rejected the authority and power God had given him when the Spirit was upon Saul while he had the opportunity to slay Goliath. Saul had pursued David for years to try and kill David out of jealous outbursts of anger. Saul had tried to kill David himself twice. Saul threatened his own children on account of showing compassion for David. Saul commanded that all of the priests of Israel be killed because the high priest helped David with food. In fact, one of the main reasons that there was no more spiritual counsel left in Israel was because Saul had the priests murdered!
It is important to recognize that God is patient, but His patience has a threshold. God’s grace does not extend as an available resource, eternally available, no matter how one historically responds to the Lord. God knows the heart and knows who will repent and who will continue in wickedness. The history of Saul shows that his heart was not humbly repentant. He swore to David several times that he would relent in his pursuit, but never did. Saul was a man committed to evil and God knew. While many people commit various evils in their life, they come to a point of repentance and humility so that God is willing to extend grace to them when they seek God’s forgiveness. Saul never sought God’s forgiveness. He just wanted the benefits that God provides. Saul just wanted the favor of God while living in sin, having no intentions of departing from the sins he had committed against God and his people. God knew this, and so cut him off, leaving him to figure things out on his own. Those who continue in sin with no intentions of turning from sin, humbling themselves before God, and repenting should not expect to receive the favor that God provides to His children.