Monday, July 12, 2010

1 Samuel: Holding Tightly to Power

1 Samuel ends with Saul facing defeat at the hands of the Philistines.  Unwilling to surrender and face potential mutilation and ultimate death, he takes his own life.  The Philistines cut off his head and hang his body on the wall.  After a time, the people of Israel take the body down, burn it, and bury the bones.  And they mourn the loss of their king.

I'm going to make a bold statement.
Saul's death was not as great a tragedy as his life.

Despite Samuel's misgivings about the monarchy, he had great hope for Saul.
Saul worshiped God.  God filled him with his Spirit.  God empowered him to fight for the Israelites.

But Saul grew to value his power over his relationship with God.
And when God rebuked him, telling him that his kingdom would end, he clung to that power instead of repenting.

He repeatedly attacked David even though he knew God had chosen David to reign after him.  (As if killing David could change God's mind about his own throne.)

He threatened his own son.

He visited a witch--totally against God's commands.

Basically Saul would do anything to retain his kingdom.
He forgot he hadn't earned his position--it was a gift.
He forgot the giver of that gift and focused on the gift itself.

I wonder how many times we do the same thing.
Not that any of us are kings, but we have our own positions, or own glories, our own power structures.
And what will we do to keep them?
Even after God has said, "No more."
Even after God has asked, "Am I the most important thing in your life?"
Even after God has instructed us, "Look at me.  Listen to me.  Love me."

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