1 Samuel 13-20
Tonight either we will love His appearing—or dread it. The choice is ours. Let’s look at the finish line. Paul had a distinct impression that life was a daily race with an end of life prize, and the only way to get the prize was to finish the race.
- 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (NKJV)
John the Apostle was also convinced that we would either welcome Christ’s coming or wither in shame before Him.
- 1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Himat His coming. (NKJV)
In fact, as John records the closing words of the Bible, they point to that very truth.
- Revelation 22:12 And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. (NKJV)
I have spent this week sifting through all the debris at the crash site of King Saul’s life. Much like the NTSB goes to airplane crash sites and examines every twisted piece of metal and scrap of plastic in order to piece together the cause of the crash—so God’s Word records every scrap of Saul’s life that is important for us to know about why he crashed and wasted his life. Today in this morning’s and again this evening’s messages I want to share with you the conclusion of all my sifting.
I have sorted through and found no less than twenty-five recorded reasons that Saul’s life crashed and burned; reasons why God rejected his life’s work and said that his ministry was wasted.
So if God is going to analyze our lives and judge us by our works, what should we be doing? That takes us back to Paul and this picture Paul challenges us with—that life is the production of building materials that we present to God. Each day our time was either spent in what is merely earthly and temporal or some of our time was also given over to what is lasting, endless and eternal.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 …each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. NKJV
|Gold, Silver,Precious Stones||Wood, Hay, Stubble|
|Beautiful||Ordinary, even ugly|
|Hard to obtain||Easy to obtain.|
At the judgment seat of Christ some believers Paul warns, are going to see everything they lived for thrown overboard (burned up in the fire) and they will float to shore on a board.
All that will be left of life will be that they were saved (they shall be saved, yet so as by fire). That is such a description of so many lives that fill God’s Word; they began the race with great achievement, but failed at the end because they ignored God’s rules. They did not lose their salvation, but they did lose their rewards (1 Cor. 3:15). It happened to Lot (Gen. 19), and to Samson (Jude 16), and probably King Saul who is our focus these past weeks (1 Sam. 28; 31), and to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). And, as Paul warns–it can happen to us!
Paul wanted to avoid at all costs the disastrous loss that would come if He ignored God and His will for life. Over and over we hear him say things like:
- 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (NKJV)
DISQUALIFIED —The literal sense of the word is “tested and proved to be false or unacceptable.”
- Borrowed from the athletic games, the word describes a contestant who, because of some infraction of the rules, is disqualified from winning the prize (1 Cor. 9:27; castaway KJV).
- Another metaphor is possible: a “counterfeit faith” (2 Tim. 3:8, NRSV). This suggests a coin that has been tested, proven false, and disapproved as legal tender.
The chilling fact of God’s Word is the individual life analysis that God Himself then performs—an autopsy not of the cause of death, but of the purpose of life. That is why the constant theme of Paul’s exhortations to us in the church revolve around the idea of finishing well at the finish line, a life that survive the fires of the judgment seat, and a “well done good and faithful servant” analysis of our race by the Lord Himself.
God’s Word has some sobering portraits of those who suffered loss. One of the greatest of these lessons in how to waste your life is Saul. What a great start and what a terrible ending. In God’s race it is those who finish that get counted for reward—all the rest suffer loss. All the rest have their life’s work burned up before them, thrown overboard and sunk in the depths of the sea, irrecoverably lost.
If you want to not suffer loss, God has given us the tracks of one who walked before us, had the Spirit, knew God—and yet failed completely. The life of Saul stands today as an example to all of us of how not to live, how not to end, how not to invest these precious days we have on earth!
So what was God’s summary of Saul’s life? God only needs one word—rejected. God says five times in just three verses (1st Samuel 15:23, 26; 16:1) that Saul rejected God by disregarding His Word, so God rejected him.
So Paul said, don’t load your ship with what God is going to throw overboard. Don’t build with flammable materials if your house is going to go through a fire. Don’t waste your life!
We could sum up the tragic shipwrecked life of King Saul by saying that you don’t serve God by doing what he did. Why not re-examine his life and see what made Saul the man who wasn’t after God’s heart. Or as I have come to look at Saul after sorting and sifting through all God left for us—25 ways to be sure that your life will amount to nothing!
- Neglect God’s Leadership of your life so that you underestimate the strength of your enemy—and get completely defeated. 1stSamuel 13.1-7
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—neglect God’s Leadership of your life so that you underestimate the strength of your enemy—and get completely defeated. 1st Samuel 13.1-7. Or walk in the Spirit and seek Christ’s rule each day in your life!
- Get impatient and use your impatience as an excuse to do your own thing instead of obeying God. We can’t serve God by—Impatience.“Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him” (1 Samuel 13:8).
Saul was impatient with God’s plan. He sought the approval of man before he sought the approval of God.
If you want to waste your life—get impatient and use your impatience as an excuse to do your own thing instead of obeying God. We can’t serve God by—Impatience. Or walk in the Spirit and seek Christ’s rule each day in your life!
- Neglect your primary responsibilities that God has entrusted to you by only taking care of your own needs. We can’t serve God by—Neglect.“So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son” (1 Samuel 13:22).
Saul neglected to provide for those entrusted to his care. He made sure he had what he needed to defend himself, but not that those he cared for were armed for the battle. In the New Testament, God says such a person is worse than an infidel:
“If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
If you want to waste your life—neglect your primary responsibilities that God has entrusted to you by only taking care of your own needs. We can’t serve God by—Neglect. Or walk in the Spirit and seek Christ’s rule each day in your life!
- Get so out of touch with the battle raging around you—that God can be doing mighty things, and you miss them completely. We can’t serve God by–Lazy indifference.“AND SAUL was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men. Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone” (1 Samuel 14:2-3).
Saul became lazy and indifferent; he was unaware of his son, the battle, and even the victory. He missed it all!
If you want to waste your life—get so out of touch with the battle raging around you—that God can be doing mighty things, and you miss them completely. We can’t serve God by–Lazy indifference. Or walk in the Spirit and seek Christ’s rule each day in your life!
- Allow your anger and pride to rule so that you say and do things that disable, wound, and harm those around you. We can’t serve God by–Rash words.“And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.’ So none of the people tasted food” (1 Samuel 14:24).
Saul spoke with no thought of what the implications were to his family or nation. Instead of his mouth being a fountain of blessing—he was a curse.
- James 1:19-20 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (NKJV)
Now look at James 3.
- James 3:5-10 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—allow your anger and pride to rule so that you say and do things that disable, wound, and harm those around you. We can’t serve God by–Rash words. Or walk in the Spirit and seek Christ’s rule each day in your life!
- Ignore clear and direct statements about what God wants you to do.1 Samuel 15:1-3 Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just ignore clear and direct statements about what God wants you to do.
- Pick and choose from what God clearly tells you to do so that you offer God selective and partial obedience.1 Samuel 15:8 He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. (NKJV)
Remember that the clearest way to declare that you love the Lord is by obedience.
- John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just pick and choose from what God clearly tells you to do so that you offer God selective and partial obedience.
- Hold on to the best and nicest parts of what God hates and has asked for you to destroy, and keep them for your own use.1 Samuel 15:9a But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them…(NKJV)
Jesus told us what He thinks of loving what He hates—
- James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just hold on to the best and nicest parts of what God hates and has asked for you to destroy, and keep them for your own use.
9.Only give God what you don’t want anyway and is worthless to you. 1 Samuel 15:9b … But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. (NKJV)
Jesus told us how to live for eternal gain—
- Matthew 16:24-27 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (NKJV)
God deserves the first, the best, the costliest of our time, treasures, and talents. If you want to waste your life—just give God what you don’t want anyway and is worthless to you.
- Honor yourself before others and remind people of your accomplishments instead of honoring the Lord.1 Samuel 15:12 So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” (NKJV)
Jesus’ harshest criticisms were for the proud religious leaders.
- Matthew 23:1-12 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just honor yourself before others and remind people of your accomplishments instead of honoring the Lord.
- Be deceptive about the true condition of your spiritual life by making false claims about your dedication to God. 1 Samuel 15:13 Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” (NKJV)
Jesus honored honesty and condemned hypocrisy.
- Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” NKJV
If you want to waste your life—just be deceptive about the true condition of your spiritual life by making false claims about your dedication to God.
12.Blame others for your own personal failures. 1 Samuel 15:15a And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people sparedthe best of the sheep and the oxen…” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just blame others for your own personal failures.
13.Experience God second hand, only through others, and not first hand and personally. 1 Samuel 15:15b “to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” NKJV
If you want to waste your life—just experience God second hand, only through others, and not first hand and personally.
- Cultivate an exaggerated view of your own importance.1 Samuel 15:17 So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just cultivate an exaggerated view of your own importance.
- Do your own thing even when God’s Word tells you explicitly not to.1 Samuel 15:18 Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, “Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just do your own thing even when God’s Word tells you explicitly not to.
- Argue with godly people God sends your way to point out ways that you are disobeying the Lord!1 Samuel 15:20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—just argue with godly people God sends your way to point out ways that you are disobeying the Lord!
- James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (NKJV)
- Make sure you only half-repent by making excuses for why you sin, and fearing people more than God!1 Samuel 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 1 Samuel 15:30Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.” (NKJV)
This is admitting not confessing. Here is what a confession looks like: 2 Samuel 12:13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. NKJV And one who really confesses has also really repented and so they can unashamedly sing of God’s forgiveness like David does in Psalm 51!
If you want to waste your life—just make excuses for why you sin, and fear people more than God instead of humbly, contritely repenting when confronted with your sin.
18.Forget the awesome power of God so that you begin to think that mere mortals (the Philistines) are greater than the Ancient of Days! We can’t serve God by–Doubting the power of God. “When Saul and all Israelheard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11).
- 2 Timothy 3:5 …having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—forget the awesome power of God so that you begin to think that mere mortals (the Philistines) are greater than the Ancient of Days! We can’t serve God by–Doubting the power of God.
- Get so absorbed in your self image that you begin to constantly have to defend your reputation all the time. We can’t serve God by–Self-focus.
“Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands’ ” (1 Samuel 18:8).
Saul measured the worth of his life by what others said, rather than by the Lord.
- 2 Corinthians 10:18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (NKJV)
If you want to waste your life—get so absorbed in your self image that you begin to constantly have to defend your reputation all the time. We can’t serve God by–self-focus.
- Be so convinced that you are the master of your fate, that you live in constant fears and insecurities about your health, your job, your future. We can’t serve God by—insecurity.
“Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8b).
Saul surrendered the care of his future security to himself and took it away from the Lord. Fear is always the realm of Satan.
If you want to waste your life—be so convinced that you are the master of your fate, that you live in constant fears and insecurities about your health, your job, your future. We can’t serve God by—insecurity.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. NKJV
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. NKJV
21.Look upon others that God is blessing with suspicion and jealousy. We can’t serve God by—jealousy. “So Saul eyed David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 18:9). “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul” (1 Samuel 18:12).
Saul was driven by the lust for self—desiring to keep others from having something he wanted for himself! This is the worst form of jealousy. Jealousy darkens our eyes to anything good about another; in Saul’s mind, David was unable to ever measure up to Saul’s expectations. Saul neither treasured nor sought God’s blessing, favor, presence, or even involvement in his life. He valued himself, neglected God, and feared David because the Lord was with him. What a tragic, misdirected life!
If you want to waste your life—look upon others that God is blessing with suspicion and jealousy. We can’t serve God by—Jealousy.
22.Tear down your wife and kids when they don’t embrace your self driven agenda. We can’t serve God by–neglecting our marriage. “Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?’ ” (1 Samuel 20:30).
Saul confessed his failure to nurture and care for his wife. An undiscipled wife breeds many painful days.
If you want to waste your life— Tear down your wife and kids when they don’t embrace your self driven agenda. We can’t serve God by–neglecting our marriage.
- Look at life as if it is only for the moment—live only for what you can grab and hold. We can’t serve God by–Seeing things entirely from an earthly perspective.“For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die” (1 Samuel 20:31).
Saul wasn’t able to see the eternal, the divine, and the spiritual parts of life. He looked on his family, his future, and their success as only a physical pursuit, not a spiritual heritage. God was always left out of the equation for security, prosperity, and happiness.
If you want to waste your life—look at life as if it is only for the moment—live only for what you can grab and hold. We can’t serve God by–Seeing things entirely from an earthly erspective.
- Get so calloused about the things of God that you lose all respect and honor for the servants of God. We can’t serve God by–Having no fear of God.“Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, ‘Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.’ But the servants of the king would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the Lord” (1 Samuel 22:17).
Saul did not see God, so he did not fear God. Thus there was no limit to his actions because he saw no consequence in offending the Lord by his life.
If you want to waste your life—get so calloused about the things of God that you lose all respect and honor for the servants of God. We can’t serve God by–Having no fear of God.
- Trust in God’s enemies and use them to advance your goals. We can’t serve God by–supporting the enemies of the Lord.“And the king said to Doeg, ‘You turn and kill the priests!’ So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore a linen ephod” (1 Samuel 22:18).
If we love someone, we hurt when they are hurt. We are loyal and reverent of the name of those we cherish. Saul had none of these qualities because he failed to cherish God enough to carry out His fierce wrath against the Amalekites. He uses one of God’s enemies (an Edomite) to kill God’s choice servants (the Levites).
If you want to waste your life—trust in God’s enemies and use them to advance your goals. We can’t serve God by–supporting the enemies of the Lord.
The end of Saul was a catastrophe. He crashed against the rocks of his own disobedient life and sank into the dark waters of sin. He was a disgrace to himself by his ignominious death; to his family he failed to protect; to his country he betrayed and brought to defeat; and to his God he ignored and dishonored. What a colossal failure and a grim testimony of neglected warning signs that led to a shipwreck of a very promising life!
Saul’s failures can serve to drive us to pray to live in such a way that these areas don’t get solidified in the lives of those we love!
Life really does come down to servanthood—who we present ourselves as servants to obey as Paul said (Romans 6:13). Or as Jesus so clearly warns us “no one can serve two masters”. (Matthew 6:24)
Over and over in God’s Word we see that God summarizes an entire life in a few words. The challenge of that summary is two fold. When God summarizes a life He means it, and it is accurate.
Do you remember God’s summary of David’s life? We can call that David’s epitaph. God distills David’s seventy-year life down to just 9 words in English.
- Acts 13:36 For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. (NIV)
Let’s prayerfully heed the important lessons learned from Saul’s shipwrecked life! When we or members of my family face challenges, hardships, and unfair situations, we will live by 1 Peter 3:8-14.
- 1 Peter 3:8-14 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For“He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” (NKJV)
Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.