EXCUSES OR REPENTANCE?

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 16:14-23

“Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (I Samuel 16:14)

Because of Saul’s pattern of disobedience and compromise, God’s blessings were withdrawn from him. God also withdrew His Spirit from Saul. Remember that before Pentecost (Acts 2) the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell God’s people. The Spirit would come to empower individuals to do what God commanded them to do. Fortunately, the Spirit never departs from us now.

When God rejected Saul as king and chose David to take his place, the Spirit of God departed from Saul and he became tormented by an evil spirit. We are not sure what this spirit was. It could have easily been a mental illness. As we will see, Saul at times lost his reason and acted irrationally. He experienced temporary insanity and had outburst of violence on occasions.

Let me be quick to say that all mental illness is not a judgment of God upon sin. Having gone through a severe depression a few years ago, I know how terrible mental illness can be. Those who struggle with it need to seek help. Sometimes it is a problem with the chemistry of the brain. This condition requires qualified spiritual, medical and psychological help.

The issue with Saul was that he had willfully turned his heart away from God and disobeyed God regularly. He made excuses for his sins and even tried to substitute religious activity for trusting obedience. He failed to believe God and took matters in his own hands at times.

It is hard to know what Saul’s real spiritual condition was. He seemed to be religious but he failed to have a trusting relationship with the Lord. Because of his sinful patterns, he lost his rule over Israel. God was preparing someone else to take his place — a man after God’s own heart.

Much can be learned from Saul’s failures. He was filled with pride. He abused his power. He often compromised and acted out of expediency rather than trusting obedience. I can see some of Saul in me and it makes me pause and seek God’s loving forgiveness. Saul made excuses for his sinful behavior rather than admitting it and repenting. God wants us to be honest about our failures. He want us to repent of our sins and to turn to Jesus who will deliver us from the guilt and shame that our sins bring upon us. This is the good news of the gospel!

Lord Jesus, unfortunately I see some of Saul in me — pride, compromise, failing to trust You, taking matters into my own hands rather than waiting on You. Please forgive me and may Your Spirit who indwells me give me the desire and power to obey You this day.

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