Wednesday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 31:1-13 (NKJV)
1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons. 3 The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armorbearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. 5 And when his armorbearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day.
7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and those who were on the other side of the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
8 So it happened the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 And they cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines, to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people. 10 Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.
11 Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.
Saul’s selfish faithlessness did not bring him a glorious life. It brought him a thorough defeat, and it brought trouble to the people of Israel. He sought for himself honor and power, but ended up being a sign of failure and a token of mockery against the Lord. The enemies of God’s people put Saul’s body and his armor on display as a boast that their power and their gods are greater than the God of Israel.
This is the trouble that false teachers also bring to the Lord’s Church. Men receive authority in the name of the Lord, but some trouble God’s people with vanities and wickedness. When those false teachers fall into scandalous defeat they become a focus for those who scoff at the Church.
Like the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead, we must uphold the honor of God’s kingdom. Our trust is not in particular men, but in God and His Word, which gives true strength and honor to faithful men. The offices that God establishes are for the benefit of His people, and so we honor them as good gifts from the Lord. But those who fail in such offices do not show that God is defeated. They show that there is defeat for those who depart from the Word of God.
Saul’s life and death were certainly tragic, but they were not worthless. His office would be filled by David, who would bring faithful blessings to the people, and it would be truly perfected in the rule of Christ Jesus, as King of kings and Lord of lords, Who would bring true victory and true peace for God’s people in the hope of everlasting life!