you ever watch the Cowboys play football? Does it help for them to get
a good start during the first half so that they have a lead over the others?
If the Cowboys have a good start, does it mean that they will win the
game? No. What else is needed besides a good start? They need a good ending
as well as a good start. If the Cowboys are ahead of the Redskins 07 points
in the first half, can they sit back in the second half and say, “Oh,
we’ve got it made now?”
Our lesson today is about Saul who had a good start as a king, but was
tripped up by Giant “MY-OWN-WAY and so made a very bad ending. The
Philistines stayed in their own country, by the sea-coast after they had
been driven away from Michmash, and King Saul went out to fight against
other nations who had been troubling the Israelites. God helped him to
be victorious in those battles, and his soldiers began to honor him as
a brave leader.
All the while King Saul kept a close watch over the Israelites, and whenever
he saw a strong-looking young man who acted bravely in the presence of
danger he took that young man and placed him in his regular army. In this
manner he kept making his army larger and stronger, and finally he chose
Abner, his uncle, to become the captain of it.
When everything began to go nicely, King Saul seemed to forget that God
had given the kingdom to him and that God could easily take it away again.
Instead of being careful to obey all of God’s commands, Saul allowed
a feeling of pride to creep into his heart and to crowd out some of the
fear of God. He began to think that he was wise enough to decide for himself
what was the right thing to do. We could say he was leaning on his own
While these changes were going on in the king’s heart, one day a
message came to him from God. Samuel, the gray-headed old prophet, came
to him and said, “God wants you to take your army and go out to
battle against the Amalekites. Those are the wicked people who fought
against Moses and the Israelites when they came out of Egypt, and God
has not forgotten the sins of the Amalekites. Because they have continued
to do wrong, now God wants you to destroy them all. You must not save
any alive, nor even their oxen and sheep and camels and asses must you
not keep for yourselves; for God commands that they all be killed.”
Saul gathered an army of two hundred and ten thousand men and started
for Amalek at once, and he sent a messenger to the Kenites who lived among
the Amalekites, telling them to leave the country because God was going
to punish their neighbors. The Kenites had been kind to the Israelites
when they came from Egypt, and now Saul and his soldiers were kind to
When the battle began, Saul’s army fought bravely and destroyed
all the Amalekites except the king, Agag, whom Saul took to a safe place.
Then after the battle ended Saul and the soldiers looked about upon the
flocks and herds that belonged to the Amalekites, and they saw many valuable
cattle and sheep and playful little lambs. “We will save the best,
they said, “and kill the others.” So they returned again to
the land of Israel, bringing Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the
best of the cattle and sheep and lambs.
God told Samuel what Saul had done, that he had dared to disobey the command
given, and Samuel knew that Saul had turned away from serving God. Sorrow
filled the heart of the old prophet, and he wept and prayed all night.
We are all born with something in our hearts that likes to have its own
way. Have you ever seen a baby or a little child cry because it could
not have what it wanted? When we are very small, our parents begin to
teach us that it would be very bad for us to have our own way always.
We might eat only ice cream and then be sick. We might never share our
toys and would grow up to be selfish. One of the biggest battles we will
ever have will be with this giant, MY-OWN-WAY, for he is always around.
Hundreds of years before Christ came as a baby, the prophet Isaiah wrote
these words in Isaiah 53: “We, like sheep, have gone astray (out
of the right way); each of has turned to his own way; and the Lord (God
the Father) has laid on Him (the Son) the iniquity (sin or wickedness)
of us all.” We know that Christ came as a lamb without blemish to
take away the sins of sinners. At Calvary, Christ died to pay for my sin.
Have you trusted Him as your Saviour? You can do so today by thanking
the Father for sending Jesus.
After Samuel had wept and prayed all night, early the next morning he
rose and started out to meet Saul. When Saul saw the prophet coming ,
he thought, “I will tell him that I have obeyed the Lord’s
command, and he doesn’t need to know that King Agag is still alive
and that we have saved the best of the flocks and herds. We have obeyed
nearly all of God’s command, and it would have been too bad to destroy
the best things.”
But Samuel could not be fooled so easily. (Saul had done wrong, and now
he was trying to cover up his sin and to make Samuel believe that he had
done all of God’s command.) “I have performed the commandment
of the Lord,” Saul said. But the old prophet said, “Then what
is the meaning of the noise of bleating sheep and lowing cattle that I
hear?” “Those have been spared to sacrifice to the Lord,”
answered the king. “They were the best of the flocks and herds,
and my soldiers thought it would be better to keep them alive. So we have
brought them to sacrifice to God.”
(Now, Saul was trying to place the blame for the disobedience upon his
soldiers); But Samuel said, “Stop – Let me tell you what God
spoke to me last night.” Still Saul tried to excuse himself and
blame his soldiers for sparing the best things; but Samuel told him plainly
that God had turned away from him. “It is better to obey God than
to sacrifice to God.” said the old prophet.
“I have sinned,” cried the king at last, “because I
feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Still Saul was not willing
to admit that he sinned by his own choice. Saul wanted Samuel to forgive
him, but Samuel turned to go away. Then Saul caught hold of Samuel’s
mantle (which is his coat) and tore it, and Samuel said, “The Lord
has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today and has given it to
your neighbor, who is a better man.” Saul asked that Samuel worship
at Gilgal, and Samuel did. Then Samuel called for Agag to be brought out
before the people, and there he killed the wicked ruler, whose life Saul
had wished to save. After doing this, Samuel returned to his own home
at Ramah, and never again visited Saul. He mourned and wept as if Saul
had died, because he knew God would not bless Israel while Saul ruled
Saul made a good start. God gave him a crown, a throne, a palace, an army,
a brave son. Everyone in the land looked up to him. They saw all these
things and saw that God had blessed him. But God saw Saul’s heart
and there he saw “SELF” or “MY-OWN-WAY” ruling.
Saul chose the way of the Big “I”. At first only God saw this.
Then Samuel saw that Saul had disobeyed. Before long all the people could
see that something was wrong. Later Saul lost his crown, his throne, his
palace, and his army. Even his brave son was killed. Why? Because he began
to think he was wise enough to decide for himself what was right to do
instead of following God’s instructions. Perhaps he did not know
how important this test was. Perhaps he did not even know that it was
a test, but thought it did not matter. But everything matters to God.
There are no small things with Him.
I wonder if the big “I” is ruling in your heart? Have you
committed your way to the Lord Jesus? Every day tests come to us. How
are we going to meet them? The way to meet them is to have the Lord Jesus
Christ ruling in our hearts. We will make this big “I:” into
a cross. This speaks of Jesus. When he is ruling in our hearts, we will
want to go His way and not our own.
Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all
your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Now before we pray aloud, let us each pray silently.
If you have never committed your way to the Lord Jesus and you truly want
Him to take charge of you and manage you, will you tell Him that now?
He will hear you.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, Help us to not lean on our
own understanding and sin as Saul did. May we seek to follow what your
Word says when we go through trials at school and at home. Thank you,
Father, that you want us to come to you with our every trial and joy.
If there be any here who have not trusted You as Saviour for their sin,
may they cry out to you today for forgiveness. In Jesus’ name I
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