“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” ― Ravi Zacharias
King Saul had totally given up on God, and become totally obsessed with discovering the whereabouts of his divinely-appointed replacement, David, so that he could put him to death.
When Saul was first chosen by God to be Israel’s first king, he had started out well. The Spirit of God had come upon him and given him every tool he needed to successfully rule Israel with wisdom, integrity, and power.
But Saul’s heart toward God was weak, and his faith did not stick. He began to wander further and further away from the Lord, until he was now in active opposition to Him.
Saul fell into a demonic obsession with killing David and had tracked him into the presence of the prophet Samuel. Even now, God gave Saul one more chance to turn away from evil and to repent, turn around, and head back toward the Lord.
22 Then he (Saul) also went to Ramah … and said, “Where are Samuel and David?” 23 So he went there… Then the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied…24 And he also stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 1 Samuel 19:22-24 (NKJV)
After a long dry spell, King Saul was once again in the Presence of God’s Spirit, and was overcome by Him. He began to prophesy, speaking God’s praise as the Holy Spirit gave him words. Saul even lay down naked before the Lord for a full day and night in awe of His Presence, slain in the Spirit.
Even now, Saul would have been completely forgiven by God if he had sincerely confessed his wrongs before the Lord. Anyone who approaches God with an attitude of humility, making an honest confession with a sincere desire for repentance, will be shown His mercy. The Father extends His grace to us because of the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, which atones for the sins of any humble believer, be they in a Sunday School class or on Death Row in a prison.
David wrote about this blessing in Psalm 32:
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity. Psalm 32:1-2 (NKJV)
Saul’s story might have taken a great turnaround at this point. With God’s help, he could have accepted the situation with David as God’s will, and begun to act as his mentor and elder statesman to help David prepare to assume the throne of Israel in God’s perfect timing.
Unfortunately, instead, Saul’s story would take a more evil turn. His second opportunity at faithful obedience to God did not last for long, either. Saul returned to his homicidal ways, even attempting to kill his own son, Jonathan, when he began to suspect Jonathan was aligned with David, and helping him to escape.
Full of envy and rage, Saul began to spiral deeper down the path of sin and death. If we should choose to abandon God to follow our own destructive ways, He will do everything He can to hold onto us, but eventually, He will release us to pursue the desires of our own heart, no matter how evil and ruinous they are. He will not force Himself on anybody.
The apostle Paul wrote about this condition in the book of Romans:
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness. Romans 1:28-29 (NKJV)
King Saul became a textbook case of a very gifted life that was wasted by sin, becoming pure evil and working in direct opposition to God on a constant basis.
When Saul heard that Doeg the Edomite had witnessed David at the tabernacle getting the showbread and Goliath’s sword from the high priest Ahimelech, he became enraged enough to commit a mass murder. He ordered his men to kill all the priests of the Lord there, eighty-five in all, as well as all the people in the town of Nob where God’s tabernacle was. Saul’s men were repulsed by the order and refused to carry it out, but Doeg the Edomite, seeking Saul’s favor, obliged him.
King Saul’s evil obsession with killing David had now escalated to become a national tragedy for Israel. His sin had taken him much farther than he ever intended to go.
We need God’s loving presence to help us successfully navigate our journey of life. We turn to God each day, trusting His Son Jesus Christ to bring us strength, deliver us through our trials, and help us to walk in obedience to Him.
Lord, keep me free from the slippery slope of sin, which will only take me down a road of death and destruction. Help me to stay close to You. Keep me on the path of faith, which You have lovingly prepared for me. And when I sin, help me to return to You, confess it, and experience the goodness of Your complete forgiveness. Protect us, heal us, and guide us. Help us to walk with You in purity and freedom. Use us to reflect Your light, hope, and faith to those around us, blessing those who desperately need Your help or a healing touch. We ask this in the name of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.