Maintaining Good Character
I Samuel 31 & II Samuel 1
Saul’s life is a great example of how each of God’s promises has a premise. A premise is a statement or idea that is accepted as being true. God promised that through Saul He would save His people from the Philistines. The premise to all of God’s promises includes obeying all of God’s Word. Saul started out well. He started with enthusiasm and faithfulness. As we live for the Lord, the Evil One continually tries to devour us and destroy our good character. (I Peter 5:8). These two chapters reveal 2 requirements for maintaining good character.
I. Reject Resentment (I Samuel 31: 1-13).
God’s name is not found in this chapter. One of the consequences of Saul’s sin is that he must face the final battle of his life alone, without any intervention from God. The Philistines attack Israel and Saul’s soldiers flee before them. Many Israelite warriors are slaughtered. Then the Philistines close in on Saul, killing three of his sons, including Jonathan. Another son of Saul, Ishbosheth, apparently was not present in the battle. He will later become king and the enemy of David. Finally, the Philistine archers severely wound Saul. Saul commands his armor bearer to kill him with his own sword. What happens? He refuses. Saul takes his own sword and falls on it. The Philistines find the bodies of Saul and his three sons the next day and disrespect them.
It didn’t have to end like this. Saul’s decline began with jealousy and resentment of David. Note that Saul lost his throne and his life because of the sin of resentment, but if he was saved he didn’t lose his salvation. Salvation is totally by grace and doesn’t depend on our works-past, present, or future.
Because of his jealousy and resentment toward David, Saul acted like a fool and failed to maintain his good character.
2. Refuse to Demean (2 Samuel 1: 1-27).
After Saul’s death, David returns to Ziklag in southern Judea. An Amalekite arrives from Saul’s camp with the report of Saul’s death, having Saul’s crown and armband (or bracelet) as proof. He tells David that Saul asked him to kill him.
David and his men tear their clothes and mourn, weeping and fasting until evening for Saul, his son Jonathan, and the house of Israel. David asks the young man why he wasn’t afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed. David knows Saul was God’s anointed king. Regardless of Saul’s sins, only God can remove him from the office.
David laments for Saul and Jonathan. It has been called “The Bow” or “The Song of the Bow”. David’s generous heart not only forgets about all the bad Saul has done, but remembers what was good about him.
In his amazing words of grief, David asks the mountains of Gilboa, where Saul was slain, to be cursed.
David is emphasizing that, even though Saul let his envy make a fool of him and lead him away from God, he was not a coward.
Few things reveal what kind of person you are like how you react when an enemy or someone who has hurt you is disgraced or falls (Romans 12:14).
To maintain good character and win God’s applause:
- Reject resentment.
- Refuse to demean.