Monday Club Sermons
1 Samuel 15:11-23
It repents me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments…
On the top of the Hartz Mountains in Switzerland the figures of travellers, in certain states of the atmosphere, take on a gigantic size to the eye of an observer below, and every movement they make is exaggerated. In the career of King Saul, as it is presented to us in Scripture, we see the figure of a man raised to a dizzy height, his actions prelected, as it were, upon the clouds, so that all mankind may learn from them the desired lesson that Jehovah reigns, and that it is an evil end bitter thing to sin against him. Note —
I. SAUL'S ELEVATION. If ever man was king by Divine right, it was Saul. Never were greatness and royalty more suddenly thrust upon one than in this ease. The priest and prophet, Samuel, gave him his title of king.
II. SAUL'S DISOBEDIENCE. This was seen plainly on two occasions: the first, when he sacrificed at Gilgal, contrary to an express command; the second, when he refused to smite Amalek utterly, and offer all the spoil to Jehovah. But these occasions simply brought to the surface an underlying state of disobedience which only waited its tempting inducements to appear. But before this last outward disobedience there had been a slowly increasing departure from the living God in the heart of the king, so that, when the wicked and justly punished Amalekites were put under the ban he was not equal to the occasion and he yielded to the temptation of the hour. The devoting of the whole nation to destruction was no arbitrary act of barbarism that assumed to be under Divine appointment, but a literal and genuine visitation from heaven upon those who richly deserved it. The phrase "utterly destroy" is in the original "put under the ban." This ban was an old custom, originating before the time of Moses, but formulated and regulated by him, as were so many other social customs amidst which Israel grew up. In its simplest form it was the devotion to God of any object, living or dead.
III. THE GROUND OF SAUL'S REJECTION. It is stated in the briefest language. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath rejected thee from being king. The rejection was already an accomplished fact in the Divine purpose, although its execution was for a time delayed. In this complete rejection we are instructed in God's ways by seeing that it proceeded on no technical and superficial grounds, as if the Almighty was an austere man, reaping where He had not sowed, and eager to secure a reason for condemning His servant. Even under the old dispensation, how spiritual was God's claim; how identical with that which rests on us today. The sacrifices of God have always been a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Outward acts have never been accepted in place of an inward submission and penitence.
IV. THE FALSE REPENTANCE OF SAUL. It had much of the appearance of a godly sorrow that leads to peace. It surely was sorrow. It showed an aroused and alarmed conscience. Saul comprehended himself; saw the conflict within between his better and worse nature. Again and again he awoke to his sin and folly with bitter tears in after days, but never reached the point where he could say, in the wonderful words of his successor, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned."
V. THE MYSTERY OF SIN AND PUNISHMENT. Who can understand his errors, or those of any man in ancient or modern times, delineated in the Bible or in our own literature? Who can find the key to a sinful life, and unlook all its mysteries and incongruities? What is sin but an irrational, abnormal, strange thing, making everyone's life at points an enigma, and best described as a mystery in its origin, development, and results in eternity? Who shall attempt to fathom the connection between wrong-doing and punishment, and foresee the consequences of single transgression? Who is to say what a sin is in its real nature, and what its results ought to be in a holy government? We cannot tell when our characters have become so consistent in evil that God passes judgment on us, and tears from our hands all that He gave us, and for which we are called to live. God has left the consequences of sin in the unseen future, like the shadows of mountains when the sun is behind us. This may be because He wishes us to be more afraid of sin than of its results. This man, whose downfall was the result of his own misdeeds, was, in the hands of Providence, a scourge for Israel, sent to them, as we read, in God's anger. The career of a sinner can be understood only when we see to what uses it is put in the world's discipline. If we are obedient to God He will turn our lives into a blessing upon men. If we rebel, He still can use us. turning our actions into scourges. To each of us is offered a kingdom, invisible but real, as old as eternity.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
Parallel VersesKJV: It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.