Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Tragic Death of King Saul (1 Chronicles 10)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, if you're able, please remain standing and give your attention to God's Word in First Chronicles, chapter ten. First Chronicles tends is God's word. Please give your attention to it now. The philistines fought against Israel and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Aminadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul and the archers found him and he was wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, draw your sword and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and mistreat me. But his armor bearer would would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore, Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. When the armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died. Thus Saul died, he and his three sons and all his house died together. And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled and the Philistines came and lived in them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gibola Gilboa, and they stripped him and took his head and his armor and sent messengers...

...throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to their idols and to the people, and they put his armor in the temple of their gods and fastened his head and the Temple of Dagon. But when all Jabesh Gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and took away the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons and brought them to Jabesh and they buried their bones under the oak and Jabesh and fasted seven days. So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with Jehovah and that he did not keep the command of Jehovah and also consulted a medium seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from Jehovah. Therefore Jehovah put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David, the son of Jesse. May God bless the reading of his word. Please be seated. What we have here is very dramatic and also grisly story, a story about a troubled king who ultimately takes his own life, plunging his sword into himself to avoid capture, torture, mistreatment humiliation. We see the death of the King of Israel and the victory of the Philistines not only oversaw but over this whole region as they go and they inhabit the cities that God's people were supposed to belong to and live in. It's a story that reminds us of many things. It's a story that reminds us of the slippery slope of sin.

It's a story that confirms God's sovereignty and Justice. It's also a story that's sets sets the stage for a new chapter about a new king, a king who will not commit suicide to avoid humiliation, but who, paradoxically, will give his life and be granted exaltation. The story of Saul's death ends in chapter ten with an explanation of why he died. This is an explanation that's given as a reminder, and among those who were first hearing this would have been known even from the very beginning, this story, of course, being old news. How soil died and why Saul died. You remember that the people that are receiving this book from the Chronicler are those who have gone into exile after a long history of many kings, some faithful, another's unfaithful. It ends with this explanation about why all these things in chapter ten happen as they do, and that explanation focuses not on the particular events that lead to his death, namely he died because the archers found him, as the text says, but it says he died because God put him to death. So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with Jehovah. The Bible gives some specifics of that and then says therefore Jehovah put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse immediately. This reminds us of the sovereignty of God, doesn't it? There are archers there who are really doing their shooting. Lost the word all of a sudden archery, if they were fighting and they they buy their wills and buy their strength put,...

I'm Saul, to death. Saul, by his own strength, unable to command his armor bearer to put him to death, a committed suicide himself. And yet all over all of this we see that God was in control of these events, ultimately in charge. How God is sovereign over these secondary causes? The exact mechanics of how the world works, I can't tell you, and I don't think the Bible says but it's true. Nevertheless, as much as Saul is responsible for murdering himself, the Bible also points to God as the reason why Saul died. It was the Lord who put him to death and with that, transferred the kingdom to another. This point is very important and it's not just a side note, because it's, in many ways, the very point Saul failed to grasp during his kingship, namely the sovereignty of God. Throughout his entire Kingship, Saul failed to grant the this point, to accept it, to trust it and to rule under it. And so we'll think about that. Well, think that Saul died not just because of some mistakes on the battlefield, not because he was just afraid at the last moment. He died because God him put him to death, and God put him to death because, ultimately, he did not trust and obey God, but turned away from him. He broke faith, he was unfaithful. To understand that you it's important to get a little bit of backstory, and I'll explain that now. To understand Sault sins how we get to this final dramatic scene of his life, you have to understand where things started. And, as you'll remember from the old adage, things that don't start well often don't end well. That proves to be true here. In First Samuel Ate,...

...we read that God's people, Israel, had made up their minds about something. They wanted a king and they wanted one bad. Samuel, the Prophet and judge of that time, warns them against this. He says this is going to cause you trouble, this will be problematic, and they say no, I'll quote, but there shall be a king over us, Samuel, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles. They wanted a king, they wanted a king to rule over them, to judge them, to go out and fight their battles. They wanted to be like the nations. Now, what's so odd about this is that from the very beginning of Israel, beginning of Israel's a nation, they were a people set apart by God himself as their king, not to be like other nations. They were distinct. They were unique and remarkable in who they were, this nation that had laws that had come directly from God, a nation whose King was God himself. They were not like other nations, and it's such an odd and indeed sinful thing that they would desire to have it some other way. God himself, since the days of Egypt, had fought for them, and in amazing ways. What country consider this? What country wouldn't want the god of all creation to fight for them as their warrior King? Isn't this what nations are always claiming? God is on our side, and yet Israel is distancing themselves from the God who has promised to be on their side? What...

...country, what nation of people, wouldn't want the god of all creation to fight for them as their warrior king, a God who could turn water into blood, who overnight can put to death the first born of all the sons of their enemies, a God who could route enemies with earth earthquakes and celestial surprises, who could dis put plagues on people, sudden death and all the rest. The Stupidity of Sin in our hearts should never cease to amaze us. To have this God promise to be your warrior King and say, but we want a king like the other nations, is insane. God points this out himself when he says to them, and first Samuel Ate, they have rejected me from being king over them. Well, soon after this that Saul was appointed king. As King, Saul was given a specific task to rule the people of God as a servant of God and, in particular, to rule according to God's law and to act in faith, in according to God's strength and power. This, in particular, meant saving his people from their enemies. Saul was to be this warrior king, much like they were asking for, much like God had always been. God grants them the king, but demands that this king act under his name and by his authority. Like Joshua before him, this king was to lead the people in victory over the enemies in the land of Canaan, the Philistines, for example, but throughout Saul's Kingship, he continually failed to do the job. He continually broke faith...

...with God. He was unfaithful to God in this particular commission of war, serving as a warrior, king of rule, of a routing out their enemies. If you go back and you read the accounts, and for Samuel for example, you'll see that saul definitely did some good. But if you tally it all up, by the time we get to the end of his life, and particularly this last battle where the Philistines take over a fair section of the land, one commentator points out that Saul had lost Lord more land of the Philistines than he had gained for them, making a mockery of all the original hopes for the monarchy. You see what he means. They're Israel hads had this great thing in mind. If we could just have a king who would rule over US and judge us and go out like the nations, then we'll be powerful, will be strong, will be protected. And just the opposite happened. At the end of the day, saw lost more ground than he had gained. And here is their great and mighty king who, at the beginning of his kingship, stood head, taller than everyone in the land, for Samuel tells us, was beautiful and handsome among all of Israel. This great, glorious, handsome man is here on the battlefield, plunging a sword into his belly. There's so many ways, both big and small, that Saul broke faith with God. Throughout his kingship, we see saul constantly afraid of his enemies, refusing to fight with the confidence of God in his heart, refusing to seek God in times of trouble. Let me give you a few examples. I'm some wellknown examples, hopefully you'll remember. One example is the wellknown story of David and Goliath. The very fact that we don't call it the story of Saul and Goliath should tell you something. Saul refused...

...to lead his ARN, any armies, against this enemy. He refused to face the giant himself, and ultimately God would use David to do the work instead, foreshadowing, of course, the things to come that we see here in first chronicles ten. Or take the store of Jonathan and his armor bearer, perhaps a little less wellknown. Or Saul and his men are hiding. They're hiding in caves, afraid of the Philistines and Jonathan says to his armor bear, enough of this. Our job is to fight these people, our job is to route them out, and he decides to do that. He takes his armor bearer and they climb up these rocky crags, these rocky cliffs, straight up. This isn't a surprise attack. The PHILISTINES are on top, jeering at them the whole time. Come on up, you dog, see what you can do. There's Jonathan and his armor bear crawling up the hill, these rocky crags, I believe they're called. They get to the top and you know what happens? These two men, who I think have one sword between them, slay all of them. There's a big earthquake and they all die and a lot of people go running scared. This is the way that God fights battles in Israel, and this is the way Saul refuses to fight. David, shepherd boy and his kingdom has to do it. Jonathan, his son, and his armor bearer have to do it, while Saul and his priests and his socalled mighty men are hiding. This happens over and over again. One of the worst instances, instances of Saul's unfaithfulness is the example of the one mentioned. He Year we're Saul, instead of repenting and waiting on the Lord, goes to a witch instead a medium. The...

Stories in First Samuel Twenty eight, the basic outline goes like this. Once again, the Philistines had come against come up against him. They were encamping against him. Once again, Saul is afraid. His reaction is one of faithlessness in God. We read he was afraid in his heart trembled greatly. It's a good point to just pause here and remember that being afraid is sometimes a sin. I'll Saul was afraid and he does inquire of God, of what to do. But God is silent, and he silent for a very particular reason, because Saul had failed to do what he had been commanded before to do with the amalekites. God is silent in judgment. He's silent because he is turned away from Saul, because of his sins. Well, let me put a question to you. When God has commanded you to do something and you haven't done it, and then you are facing a task where you have to do something again and he is silent, what do you do? What is the proper reaction? What should Saul have done on the Lord didn't speak to him. I think the proper action was enduring the judgment of God and repenting of his sins. We see many times in scripture where God relents of the judgment that he is bringing or is about to bring because people turn in repentance to him. One example of this is the king and Nineveh. The Jonah goes to and warns and the King and all the city repent and God holds back judgment. Saul doesn't do that, however. He doesn't repent, he doesn't sit contently under the discipline of God or take his discipline, well we might put it. Instead, salt chooses to go consult a which,...

...instead of obedience, Salt Chooses Mor sin instead of obeying God's directions. Saw The sides. A Better option is to disobey God's directions by consulting this medium in end or someone who could call people from the dead. Now, this was no accident. It wasn't as though Saul wasn't aware of this. In fact, earlier in that chapter we read that Saul had banished all the mediums because they were bad and they're not supposed to be in Israel. He had banished them out of Israel. But now, knowing his sin, he chooses to disguise himself and trick the woman about his identity and break the law of God. You see why the chronicler points out sauls transgressions by saying he broke faith with God. Point after point in Saul's Kingship, Saul chooses to trust or be afraid of man instead of trusting and fearing God, to trust in evil spirituality rather than in the Holy Spirit. Over and over and over again, Saul broke faith. But just as much as first chronicles tells us about the faithlessness of Saul, it also tells us about the faithfulness of God. Unlike so many political leaders and kings and judges people in Charge, God does not wink at sin. God is just. He May forbear sin for a time because of his mercy and his kindness, he may forgive sin because of his grace, but he never ignores sin, he never winks at it, he never sort of sweeps it under the what rug and he certainly never condones it, agrees to it, participates in it or praises it. Saul...

...had a job to do, which he failed, but God had a job as well to be the great and holy King and judge that he is. It's not a job that was assigned to him, but a one that belongs to him eternally because of who he is. In addition to this, God has had assigned himself the particular task of caring for his people. Saul had failed to do that, and if God was to be faithful to his people, he needed to remove Saul. To allow a faithful, a faithless ruler to continue ruling over them would be to destroy his people, and so God eventually removes the king that perhaps they even deserved. Well, let's pause for a moment right here and reflect on this powerful activity of God. This story gives us an opportunity to see things not from the sinful, scared human perspective that we often see them, but from the sovereign and powerful perspective that God sees and knows things. To Saul, the Philistines were an unstoppable force, going back to the example of Jonathan and the armor bearer and hit a Jonathan and his armor bearer. The text says there, I believe it's in First Samuel Fourteen, and text says that they were scared because they didn't have any sorts because the Philistines had this monopoly on sword. I believe it's sharpening. Forgive me if I'm not remembering that right, but there's this kind of economic and supply problem and even in terms of weapons, you might be afraid to if you were Saul. There are in some ways legitimate reasons in which Paul...

...look, or Saul looks at his situation and says this isn't good, I should be afraid. But again he's seeing things in a human centered way. To Saul the Philistines seemed like an unstoppable force, but to God, what are they? Ants on the grounds and on the shore. Nothing. God Can do is he pleases, and he does it here with Saul. He does it throughout the entire kingship of Saul. He's does it in all times and in all places. To Saul, his kingship was all that he had and it was his point to put all of his pride and power in it. To God, Saul's Kingship was an office in which Saul was to exercise as a servant, no matter what the outcome was, no matter what happened with the Philistines or his people. Saul was to do his job, and faithfulness to the Lord. Saul, who is constantly worried about the honor and protection of him and his house, ultimately lost both. This is a lesson we must learn. Whenever we forget God and turn to other sources of strength, other hopes, other fears, other plans, we step onto a treacherous path, a trap, a path that is a trap, a path that walks away from the Lord, from his power, from his strength, and walks in our own ways. Even great servants of God, much better than Saul, found their deaths as well for doing the same things. If you are wise, you will hear this. You will beware and remember that Strang...

...from the Lord brings nothing but disaster. But there is another lesson to be learned here as well. God is King Not only to execute justice but, as I hinted at earlier, to also bring about salvation. Those who fight against God will die by his hand, but those who trust God find salvation in him instead, and here, in this chapter, you see this, mostly in the way that the story doesn't end. Saul is put to death so that another king can take his place, a King Saul was unwilling to give his kingship over to but whom the Lord had chosen, in His grace and in his wisdom, to rule over his people. God wanted his people to have victory over others through a king, but not like the other nations. The Nation's apart from God, rely on human things, weapons, chariots, manpower, self confidence. God wanted victory for his people, but not through these means. God wanted peep the victory through his people, through a king who relied on God and on God alone, a king who would trust God and turn to him, whether he had a man, a band of mighty men with him or a sack full of stones. And that's who David was, and that's why David was victorious. Not because David was extra clever, extra willing or extra courageous, but because David trusted in the Lord. Solomon was like this too, and under them, as we will see in the coming chapters, God made Israel to flourish. The PHILISTINES, though they...

...would face, Israel, would continue to face them, and other enemies as well, wouldn't pose the nearly the problem that they did under Saul, and it was because of the weight means would of which these men exercised their kingship. They were kings who, though not perfect by any means, trusted in the Lord, their God, to be the king, not like the other nations, and to do his work according to his will. And because of this, God promised to establish them and this kind of kingdom, and he did. But God promised something even more than that, and even greater than that. He promised them that he would establish a kingdom, holy kingdom, a righteous kingdom, a kingdom that was free of enemies and without fear, a kingdom that was established on God's own strength, a kingdom that would last forever, a kingdom that wouldn't depend on the monarchy going up and down, up and down, as men were faithful and faithless and faithful and faithless, but a kingdom that would last forever, established on the righteousness of a perfect king. And this God has done in David's greater son, namely Jesus. You remember that at the beginning of Jesus's ministry, he says the Kingdom of God is at hand. He means nothing less than this kingdom that had been promised to David, a great and mighty people that had been promised to Abraham, Jesus isn't explicitly mentioned in first chronicles ten, but he is the one who belongs to the House of David and who would one day do all that God had atten had intended for his people, including defeating their enemies. You...

...see, Jesus is power in stark contrast to Saul's all throughout his ministry. When Jesus faces demonic powers, does he go and consult them? Does he seek them out for their wisdom? No, he goes to them and casts them out of people putting a flag in the ground, naming victory for God the king. When Jesus faces enemies and people that would seek to harm the people of God, what does he do? Does he cow or is he afraid? Know? He condemns them, he calls them from what they are, even those who would call themselves leaders in Israel, the people pill that we're supposed to be leading Israel, Israel's elders and priests and scribes, Jesus condemns them for their faithlessness. Jesus is not afraid. In fact, Jesus is so not afraid and so trusting in God that he willingly goes to the cross. Jesus doesn't commit suicide, but he gives himself over to murderers, to the enemies of God, knowing and trusting in the power of God that he will ultimately not be humiliated and defeated, but that he will be victorious. That's the great strength of Jesus, that's the great king that we trust in when we put our faith in him and in his victory. Jesus goes to the cross not wanting to protect himself, but in order to gain victory over all of his and our enemies, and that includes not just political groups of people that might rise up and try to harm him or his saints,...

...but that includes the devil himself, demons, Sin, the power of the law, guilt, shame. When we put our trust in Jesus, then we are putting our trust in the one who saul in many ways points to, but as a bad contrast, we point to the one in whom God transfer the kingship to, away from Saul, away from the sinful desires of his people, to one king that would truly save them. Saul Clung to victory in order to avoid humiliation, and he found death and desecration as a result. Jesus, however, freely gives himself over to the evils of men and humiliation and was glorified as a result. And so we have in Jesus a good king, a greater king, and we also have in him all the confirmation of the promises of God that he will rule over his people and will save them from their enemies. So let us put our trust in him. When we, in our own lives, face various decisions about what to do, about how to act, about how to live, let's steer clear of the example of Saul and instead put our faith in God, fearing him, trusting him, knowing what he has already done for us. Even in Jesus Christ, let us pray and ask that God would grant these things to us.

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