What keeps us from drawing nearer to God? Worse, what tears us away from Him? King Saul is the poster child as the answer to these questions.
The prophet Samuel hadn’t been thrilled when the people he served wanted a king. He was near the end of his life, and his two sons weren’t Godly men. The people saw this and demanded a king like all the surrounding nations in the Ancient Near East. God knew this would take Israel as a nation further from Him, but He gave them what they wanted. At God’s direction, Samuel capitulated and anointed the king that He chose.
Of course, Yahweh knew that this first king over Israel would be unfaithful despite his outward appearance of kingly demeanor. Saul was taller than most, handsome, and essentially a rock star in the eyes of the people. At first, he was humble and reluctant in his role, but that quickly changed. It wasn’t long before he disobeyed Samuel’s instructions that had come from God to honor Him. Saul’s pride got the best of him. Perhaps it was because of his youth and inexperience. The responsibility made him exalt himself rather than God who had placed him as king. This led to his falling away that grew worse over time. The Lord removed His Holy Spirit from off of Saul, and in that absence, a demonic spirit took over in his life.
Saul spent most of his life in conflict because of his disobedience. If he wasn’t chasing David who Saul knew was the direct threat to his position as king, he was fending off hostile nations that wanted to conquer Israel. We see in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 the crux of the matter regarding Saul’s life:
So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
Saul’s breach of faith was treachery in God’s eyes. Treason deserves death. What were the acts of Saul’s unfaithfulness? He was disobedient. He didn’t guard his heart in order to remain observant of that which God had instructed His people. Worse, rather than consult the God of Israel he sought spiritual guidance from the dead. This was a direct insult to Yahweh, as He had long ago commanded His people never to engage in sorcery and necromancy. These were demonic practices related to the gods of other nations and an abomination to the Lord. For Saul to seek guidance from other gods, that broke all Saul’s connection with Yahweh. It was his death knell.
Our lesson is that we have a choice of gods that we can follow. We can commit to the One true God; He who is above all created things; the Savior of our souls – should we decide to truly follow Him. Or, we can turn to the gods of other nations and of the material world. Should we choose to do that, we break faith with the Lord.
Perhaps our attitude is that we can serve both God and one of these other entities at the same time. God tells us that we cannot serve both Him and mammon, whether it’s money or a false god of any kind. By making such a choice, we break faith with the only One who can actually save us.
Why do people do this? Perhaps salvation through Jesus Christ is so simple that in our human complexity, we think that attaining heaven or nirvana or whatever our concept of an afterlife is, that getting there must be harder than what God actually makes it. Regardless, when we go down the path that leads away from Christ, we descend into darkness. If we seek guidance elsewhere than from the source of Truth and don’t turn back, our destiny is assured, just like Saul’s. He chose not to trust God; it brought him eternal death.
Where does your faith lie? Whom do you trust? Is it Christ alone? Or do you also place your life in the hands of another, be it wealth, your position in life, or even in your family situation? Is your attachment solely to the Lord, or are you attached to this world? Remember what 1 John 2:15 tells us:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Is the world and all its enticements worth not having the Father within? Humanity has two possible destinations: one is with the Father of life, the other is with the father of lies.
Let us not be like Saul and breach our relationship with God. Instead, let us follow hard after Him alone, and we’ll not have the sorry ending that Saul did: dying without faith, having all his posterity ripped from him, and spending eternity separated from the One who loved him, yet allowed him to make the choices he did.