A Price To Pay

(Scripture references from the NIV)

Oh so much can be said about pride and the results of too much of it; and, the same can be said about deceitfulness.

In 1 Samuel 15 you will read the story of how Samuel, the prophet, delivers a message to King Saul.  Saul is told to attack the Amalekites and to spare nothing and no one.  “But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fatted calves and lambs – everything that was good.”  (Verse 9a)  “Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, ‘Saul has gone to Carmel.  There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.’”  (Saul’s pride was in full force now.)  “When Samuel reached him, Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you!  I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’”  (Now the deceitfulness erupts.)  But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears?  What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?’  Saul answered, ‘The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.’  ‘Stop!’ Samuel said to Saul….’’  (Notice that as the leader, Saul did not take responsibility for the wrong, but put it onto his soldiers.  Something else that caught my eye was how Saul referred to God as “the Lord your God” – not “our God” or “my God”.  That is very telling.)

As a result of the disobedience, God again spoke to Samuel about how displeased He was with Saul, and when Samuel approached Saul he blatantly lied to him.  But Samuel called him out on his lies and spoke another message from God – “’…Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.’” (Verses 22 & 23)  “And the Lord was grieved that He had made Saul king over Israel.”  (Verse 35b)  There would be a price to pay.

In 1 Samuel 28 is the story of how years later Saul became terrified when confronted with the Philistine army.  When no answer came to him as he sought the Lord, he lowered himself to break his own law about consulting mediums for guidance.  He visited a medium (trying to disguise himself so she would not know it was him) and asked her to call up the spirit of Samuel.  When Samuel appeared to him he said “’…Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy?  The Lord has done what He predicted through me.  The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors – to David.  Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out His fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today.  The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.  The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.’”  There would be a price to pay.

In 1 Samuel 31 we read about how Saul then returned to battle and the Philistines killed his three sons and pursued him.  He was critically injured and “Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.’  But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.” (Verses 4 & 5)  He had a price to pay.

But the lessons do not end here.  In 2 Samuel 1 is the story of a young man that escaped from that battle and came into David’s camp.  He told them how the Israelites had been defeated by the Philistines and that Saul and his son Jonathan were dead.  (Maybe he did not mention all three of Saul’s sons were killed, because he likely knew of the close relationship David had with Jonathan and thought it would have more impact mentioning only Jonathan.)  “Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, ‘How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?’  ‘I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,’ the young man said, ‘and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and riders almost upon him.  When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’  He asked me, ‘Who are you?’  ‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.  ‘Then he said to me, ‘Stand over me and kill me!  I am in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’  So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive.  And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.’”  (Verses 5-10)  

Apparently this young man was prideful and thought he could make himself seem more important by embellishing the story, trying to make himself appear a hero.  “David asked him, ‘Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?’  Then David called one of his men and said, ‘Go, strike him down!’  So he struck him down, and he died.  For David had said to him, ‘Your blood be on your own head.  Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”  (Verses 14-16)  There was a price to pay.            

We need to be very aware of what the results can be when we choose to be prideful.  If we determine that we know better than God what we should do, we will fall into the trap set by our enemy.  Satan is the father of lies and will tell us we can do better if we follow our own thoughts and ideas than if we follow what God wants.  Failure always occurs,   maybe not immediately but eventually, Saul being the perfect example.  With that failure will we practice deceit to attempt to avoid the consequences?  How will we react when it is time to pay the price?

We all make mistakes in our lives, but how much easier would it be if we would just do our best to follow the guidance of God, follow His precepts and obey?  And, when we mess up, do not try to lie our way out of it but own up to the wrong, confess and ask forgiveness.  I believe that we will then receive our rewards instead of having a price to pay.  

Written by Karran Martin – April 3, 2019

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