4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.” But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.
1 Samuel 31:4 (NLT)
We have come to the end of 1 Samuel. Personally, this is a milestone in this blog ministry. I started in writing on specific verses. Then I proceeded to write a series on some chosen chapters. Today, I have just ended in my writing on the entire book of 1 Samuel. This is called progression in life. God’s will for all Christians is always to improve and progress. No matter what God is calling you to do now, he expects you to improve in it and he will provide all the necessary blessings to help you with it.
If you are a teacher, he wants you to teach better. If you are a swimmer, he wants you to swim faster. If you are a writer, he wants you to write better. God loves to think big. There is no limit in his mind. If you are poor, God wants you to be a millionaire. If you are a millionaire, God wants you to be a billionaire. If you are a billionaire, God wants you to be a trillionaire. Don’t you think it is great to have a God who wants you to have the best in life?
1 Samuel ends with the death of King Saul. After Saul had visited the medium. He had lost all hopes. He was lost before the battle begun. As a result, the entire war was nothing more than the slaughter of the Israelites. How can we expect the Israel soldiers to fight valiantly when their king had already given up hope? So, the war was basically about Philistines chasing and killing the Israelites. It was a total disaster.
King Saul was wounded. At his last breath, he displayed some courage. He told his armor bearer to kill him. He did not want to give his enemies the privilege to humiliate and kill him. His armor bearer refused and he resorted to kill himself. That marks the end of the first king of Israel.
Let us review the life of King Saul. He was born in quite a rich family. His family has flocks and servants to take care of them. Not only that, he was born with good looks and he was the tallest man around. Don’t you wish you were born in the same environment?
When the Israelites wanted to ask God for a king because they wanted to look good to their neighbors, God chose Saul. Saul was chosen to be the first king of Israel. At that time, Israel did not have a proper national government. The only form of government they had were tribal leaders. At the national level, they had a judge who was theoretically the head of state. However this judge was only a single individual. He had no means to enforce his rule. He could only rely on his charisma to persuade the people to obey him.
When Saul was formally announced as the king, the people cheered for him but after the party everyone went home. No one cared about him anymore. Nothing physical had changed about him. However, God did not abandon him. God was blessing and preparing Saul for his kingdom. Samuel had trained Saul for the job. This guy is very privileged. He is the first man in the history of Israel God had chosen to be king.
The heads of state before him from Moses to Samuel were judges. They were just people doing their jobs but they had no privileges. They had no power to demand taxes from the people to build their own palaces. Saul was different. As the king, he owned the entire country. Theoretically he had absolute power to impose taxes and spend them in ways he pleases although he could not implement that at that moment.
His time to shine came when Israel was attacked. As the king, he rallied his people to unite and fought off the invaders. His fame grew. The neighboring countries were terrified of his potential and attacked him from every side but God was with him. Saul fought them all and won. At that time, Saul managed to establish Israel’s first permanent and professional army. Saul had the means to impose his rule over Israel. Saul’s kingdom was born.
Unfortunately, when he faced troubles, he lost focus. He allowed himself to be controlled by fear and sinned against the Lord. At last God had had enough and withdrew his blessings from Saul. Saul was on his own.
Saul’s kingdom had been facing constant attacks from the neighbors. Fortunately for him, David appeared. David had served him faithfully and valiantly. David had successfully fought off the enemies and secured Saul’s kingdom. However David was too successful. Saul became jealous and wanted to kill David. David ran away. Saul had lost the only man who had the capability to secure his kingdom. He diverted his attention from protecting his kingdom from the neighboring countries into David’s capture. He fell into David’s hands and David spared him for 2 times. This had caused Saul to feel ashamed of himself.
Without David, Saul’s kingdom was very shaky. When the Philistines launched a massive force against him, he panicked and resorted to consult a medium. The devil took advantage of that and inflicted a lethal psychological blow on him. Saul had lost all hopes. The final battle was a complete disaster. It was a one sided affair. The Israelites ran and the Philistines chased. King Saul died together with his sons. It was ironical that the man Saul tried so hard to kill was the one who could save him and his kingdom.
Let us revise our lessons from the story of King Saul. All of us (with the exception of theologians) want to be greatly blessed by God. We want to have the best in life. At the same time, our God is pleased to fulfill all our desires. So we obey God, do every thing he wants us to do and finally get what we want.
The potential pitfall is when we stop obeying God after we get what we want. Some of us may think that obeying God is only a means to an end. What is the use of obeying God after we get what we want? The truth is, obey God is more than just a means to an end. It is the lifeline to the continuous prosperity in our lives. Why is that so?
Let us go to the true definition of obedience. When I was in my religious church, I considered obedience to God is something I must do or I might face disasters from God. At that time, I had a very theological view on God. God is a pervert. If you show him any form of disrespect or disobedience, he will do perverted things on you. After all, he is God. He can stoop to any evil. Ironically, even if you obey him, he can still give you some disease called “thorn in the flesh” to teach you his sufficient grace.
Of course, God had shown me the truth. The truth is God is not a pervert. He loves you and wants to have the best in life. When he tells you to do something, he has already planned to bless you in the thing he asked you to do. He always has our best interests in his mind. His greatest wish is for all of us to prosper and be in health as our souls prosper. Obeying him means we are placing ourselves into positions where his greatest wish for us is being fulfilled. We will prosper and be in health as our souls prosper.
However, we will never be forced to obey. You can choose to disobey God. When you disobey God, you will be in the position where the opposite of God’s wish will manifest in you life. When that happens, it is not God’s fault. You have chosen your own destiny. God will never punish you when you disobey him just like he will never give lung cancer to the smokers. Neither will God kill those who commit suicide. We obey God because we choose to, not because we have to. Unlike the theologians, we are not blackmailed into obedience.
As for me, I choose to obey God because I want to have the best of everything he has to offer. I am sure the theologians will pass their judgement and condemn me for my honesty but that is not going to change the truth. I have experienced been under both the teachings of theology and the teachings of Jesus. My final verdict is: Jesus is better. I choose Jesus and reject theology. How about you?