THE DEATH OF KING SAUL – "FOR TO BE CARNALLY MINDED IS DEATH" – ROMANS 8:6; See 1 SAMUEL 28, 31; 2 SAMUEL 1, 2
Saul's insane envy of David weakened the kingdom and the enemy defeated them. "The fellowship is broken. The power of darkness grows. All will be sacrificed. All will be lost unless we unite against evil." (From the Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers) "Jesus …said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." (Matt. 12:25) Pray for and live for unity in the Spirit. (John 17)
"In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him.." (See 28:1-6) Saul did not fear the Lord and considered His commandments negotiable. "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke.." (Prov. 1:28-30 – also see Psalm 111:10)
When Saul couldn't hear from heaven he turned to hell. "Find me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], that I may go and inquire of her." Saul had expelled mediums from Israel himself and now he is inquiring of one. But in this most unusual account, the medium didn't bring up Samuel (she was shocked), God did. And Saul heard the future all right – to his horror: "tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. (will die) Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel's words." (28:19, 20) We best leave our future in the hands of the only One who loves us more than we love ourselves and simply obey His Word day by day. (Matt. 6:34) God had said that those practicing divination (foretelling the future) and witchcraft were "detestable" and the same applies today even to such "harmless" things as reading your horoscope. (Deut 18:10-12) If you have dabbled in the occult in the past be sure to repent and renounce all false gods and confess the One true God as the only One you will worship.
The man who was once "small in his own eyes" later "built a monument to himself". (1 Sam. 15:12, 17) Saul became proud, feared men rather than God, blamed others for his own sins, and tried to substitute rituals (offered sacrifice) for obedience. In summary, Saul was insubordinate to God's authority and the authority that God placed over him – the prophet Samuel. (See 1 Samuel 15; Prov. 1:7; Heb. 13:17) "Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are…. Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy,"….. (Gal. 5:19-21) Does this sound like a picture of Saul?
"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Saul couldn't handle power, even the power the Lord gave him. This all led to a most painful and humiliating death for the King of Israel – suicide, beheaded, mocked and unburied in enemy territory. In the Lord of the Rings the wise leaders (Gandalf, Aragorn, etc.) refused to own the ring of power yet Gollum, the one who just had to have it, went to his ruin and death over it. "Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not." (Jeremiah 45:5) Let God promote you in His way and time. (1 Peter 5:6)
2 Samuel 1, 2 – Once again David shows us the character of God in his life as he genuinely mourns the death of Saul- the man who tried to murder him for years. Listen to how David describes the insane man who tried to kill him: "Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!.. The shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul- Saul and Jonathan- in life they were loved and gracious, They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold." (See 2 Samuel 1:17-27) "When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, "The LORD bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead." (2 Samuel 2:5-7) Then later we learn that David moved the bones of Saul and his sons to their hometown and gave them an honorable burial. (2 Sam. 21: 12-14) What a picture we have of our Lord on the cross as he forgave the very ones who nailed Him there. "Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor. 13: 4-8)
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD
The Fall of man brought shame, blame, finger pointing, factions and divisions. Jesus prayed for unity and Paul and others urged us to make every effort to keep it: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:3-6) Man and wife, parents and children, family relationships, denominational differences in churches, etc., can all be a place where Satan works to divide and conquer as he did with King Saul. Where can you work and pray and humbly serve to be a peacemaker versus a peace breaker?
Unconfessed and unrepented sin can "hinder our prayers" (1 Peter 3:7; Psalm 66:18). Are you having trouble hearing from the Lord? How can applying Psalm 139:23-24 restore good communication with Him?
If you have dabbled in the occult in the past be sure to repent and renounce all false gods and confess the One true God as the only One you will worship. Too many Christians are blind to the work of Satan which is the way he likes it. Have you or someone close to you ever been oppressed by the enemy? Do you know how to do spiritual warfare? Discuss your answers. If not, one good resource is "The Bondage Breaker" by Dr. Neil Anderson
Saul is a good "bad example" to learn from. Of his many failures in his relationship with the Lord which strike home with you? Note the "deeds of the flesh" in Gal. 5:19-21
I have heard that the hardness of our heart is measured by how long it takes us to forgive someone who hurts us. David was a "quick forgiver" as seen in this account and later on. Jesus tells us that the Father is "quick" to forgive (see Luke 15:22-24 NIV) and as He was on the cross. Are you a quick forgiver or do you "keep records of wrongs?" Discuss your answers.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25) It is in doing God's Word, not in just hearing it, that we are blessed. What action will you take to apply these truths to your life?
Scripture memory verse: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8 KJV)