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Saul, the Man who Committed the Unpardonable Sin
By Brian Pepper
Every one of us sometime or other have been suddenly brought face to face with the fact that a period of years have slipped by, and so quickly and quietly have they gone that we have barely noticed their passing. For a moment we become startled. We realize that the old enemy of man has been taking his toll. Time is no respecter of persons. It is when we are suddenly faced with the fact, age is creeping on us, that we take time to do a little spiritual stocktaking. One of the first thoughts that flood the mind is, what have I been doing for Christ? How effective has been my witness?
One day God is going to demand an answer to that question. You know it is a good thing to do a little stocktaking of our spiritual condition. Unfortunately we think of the opportunities that we have allowed to slip by. The things we fully intended to do but did not do. I think that if Christians did a little more spiritual stocktaking they would be more stable. Some have lost their way because they have neglected this very thing.
First of all it would be very helpful to take a look at the background to this story. Samuel was now and old man. His sons were made judges or rulers over Israel but they were unfortunately dishonest men. We are told in 1 Samuel 8:2 that they accepted brides and perverted judgment. As you can well imagine conditions were becoming intolerable in Israel. The elders and the people were anxious to have a leader: a man of integrity and ability to wipe out corruption; to restore harmony and prosperity in the nation.
So in verse 5 we read of this request. 1 Samuel 8:5 says, "And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."
But there is a lesson for us even in the fine looks and manliness of King Saul. God has told us that when He looks upon a man it is not so much the outward appearance that He takes into consideration as the heart of that individual.
In 1 Samuel 16:7, "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
I would say that it is heart condition that counts the most with God. Is your heart set on the things eternal? Do you put the things of God first and your own desires last? If you are doing that then you can be sure that you are heading the right way.
When Samuel told him that he was to be the King of Israel this is his answer. You read it in 1 Samuel 9:21. "And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family of the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?" It is perfectly clear that Saul was no ordinary person. He had already made quite a reputation as a soldier. And yet despite success he was still humble. Saul had wonderful possibilities. It is quite apparent that he had the necessary qualifications of a great leader.
1 Samuel 10:6 Samuel told Saul that he would become a prophet.
"And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."
In verse 9, "And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
Verse 10, "And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him and he prophesied among them."
In P.P. (Patriarchs and Prophets) 610 we read
"A great change was wrought in Saul by the Holy Ghost. The light of divine purity and holiness shone in upon the darkness of the natural heart. He was now called to begin the warfare against sin and Satan. And he was made to feel that in this conflict his strength must come wholly from God."
In our introduction to Saul we find that he had all the qualities of great leadership, plus the infilling of the Holy Spirit; besides he was a fully converted man. We are told that "God gave him another heart.” Here was a man filled with the Spirit, a man of power, ready to do a great work for God.
But unfortunately we now see Saul take the first step in the direction away from God. There is always that first step and how quickly it leads into the paths of sorrow and regret.
Presumption is a great sin.
David prayed in Psalm 19:13, "Keep back thy servant also from presumptious sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright and I shall be innocent from the great transgression."
I would suggest that we to would do well to pray that prayer. There are too many who are committing presumptuous sins or sins of presumption.
God says Keep the Sabbath Day holy and He tells us very clearly that the 7th day is the Sabbath but people say, "What does it matter: the first day is just as good, as long as we keep some day that is all that matters." Friends that is presumption.
Strange to say it was over a matter of worship that Saul made that fatal mistake.
You will remember that Samuel had instructed Saul to tarry for seven days until he arrived at Gilgal, to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings.
1 Samuel 13:5. "And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude…”
Verse 6. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed) then the people did hide them-selves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits."
Verse 7 later half. "As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling."
There is no doubt but Saul was up against it. His army deserted him like flies. What was left were not worth anything. What he needed were men with a backbone. Instead he had a motley collection with jelly bones instead of a good stiff spine. It says, “and all the people followed him with trembling.”
I am always reluctant to pass judgment on someone else. It is always easy to be wise after the thing has come to pass. It must have been demoralizing to see the soldiers deserting; each succeeding day more and more made their way to safety. It was a test. This was Saul’s test.
I believe that every one of us have been or will be tested to the same extent; not the same way for God has a different test for each one of us. I only hope that we won’t come out the same way as did Saul.
Saul became impatient when Samuel failed to arrive on time so he summoned an assembly and had an altar built, then he made a sacrifice to God. Nothing wrong with that you might say; he was only worshipping God the best he knew how. And the circumstances justified the act. But the whole thing was this: God had directed that only those who were consecrated to the office should present sacrifices to Him. God is very particular.
I believe that the great lesson we can gain from this experience is that we must not be impatient. When God does not bring to pass the things that we ask for, we become impatient. Too often we try to work them out for ourselves.
It is very easy to point the finger at Saul and say you did very foolishly.
But we need to be very careful that we don’t do the very same thing. This is very important that we realize Israel was to be directed by God and Saul was to receive his power from on high, so this act of disobedience placed Saul in disfavour with God. It is right here that we have the greatest lesson from the life of Saul. This was the reason why Saul, the man who showed such great promise, was from now on a doomed man.
There are too many who are like that. They do wrong and they know it but because they are proud they refuse to confess. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end is destruction.
And now let us take another look at Saul. We see a man who had been granted the wonderful privilege of the Holy Spirit now rejecting this gift.
The opening scene in the next act of this real life drama commences as Saul sets out to do battle with the Amalekites.
1 Samuel 15:7 says, "And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt." This was the most brilliant victory Saul had ever gained. But God had told him that he was to utterly destroy the Amalekites. In verse 8 we read, "And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, Verse 9 says, "But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and of the lambs and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."
Saul had now been subjected to the final test. He persisted in self justification. Samuel said, “to obey is better than sacrifice. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king." 1 Samuel 15:22. As Saul heard these words he cried out; Verse 24, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandments of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice."
But it was not sorrow for sin but fear of its penalty that prompted Saul's exclamation. You notice his words “I feared the people and obeyed their voice."
What a tragedy! It seems almost incredible that this is the same man to whom we were introduced as a man mighty in valour and in the Spirit of the Lord.
It is a very solemn lesson to each one of us. Do we feel real repentance for our sins? Or are we afraid of the penalty of our sins?
From now on we see a different Saul. When the Spirit leaves Saul he throws his javelin at David. Sometimes there are those in the church who try to pin their David against the wall. When the Spirit of God goes we find an evil spirit enters.
I sincerely hope that this is not the case when a church member throws pointed bards of criticism and accusation at others. When Satan takes over a person you can expect evil to predominate and this is what happens to Saul. Saul's disobedience changed his relationship to God.
It is rather a strange thing that when our hearts are set on pursuing our own course we become strangely deceitful and try to make plausible excuses for our actions, some even tell lies to cover our sinful course from others.
Saul lied to Samuel. In
1 Samuel 15:13 he exclaimed "Blessed be thou of the Lord, I have performed the commandment of the Lord."
But the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen told Samuel that Saul was lying When Samuel accused Saul of his deceit Saul threw the blame on the people and tried to shield himself.
This sin of self justification is a very old one. It began with Satan then we find Eve blaming the serpent. Adam blamed both God and the woman for he said, "The woman thou gavest me."
Get close to Satan and you will echo his words. Get close to Christ and there will be no need for self justification. Yes the closer we get to the Master the less we will accuse others; the more we will take responsibility for our actions.
Saul dishonored God by unbelief and disobedience.
When he was first called to the throne, he was humble and self-distrustful, but success made him self-confident. P.P. (Patriarchs and Prophets) 633.
The very first victory of his reign kindled pride in his heart. In his victories over God's enemies
at first he gave the glory to God but later on he began to take the honor to himself. Step by step Saul weakened his grasp on God.
What a mighty lesson there is in the life of Saul. Surely we can profit from looking into his life and noting the things that caused him to lose out. First of all Presumption, then Impatience, next it was Impenitence and finally Self-justification.
Today we are very close to the kingdom. We have nearly run the race. With heaven so near let us push aside anything that is in our life that might cause us to lose out. Today I am going to ask for a full consecration. If there is anything that is holding us back from a full surrender may we with God's help put it aside and walk with Him.