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The Peril of Presumptuous Sin

1 Samuel 31:1-6

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When we left this story a couple of weeks ago, David faced a clear choice to kill Saul, taking matters into his own hand or to trust in the Lord to protect him from Saul. On two occasions, David found Saul in a vulnerable position and could have killed him and ascended to the throne, but he chose a different path. In a self-imposed exile to preserve his life and the life of his king, David lived in the land of his enemies-the Philistines for over a year, waiting for God to take His vengeance on Saul. It was all a matter of trust-trust that his God could and would protect him and take vengeance on his king who was trying to kill him.

God used two of Saul's greatest enemies to defeat Saul. Let's read, 1 Samuel 31:1-6 to see who they were, "Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. [2] And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul. [3] And the battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was badly wounded by the archers. [4] Then Saul said to his armor bearer, 'Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and pierce me through and make sport of me.' But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it. [5] And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died with him. [6] Thus Saul died with his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men on that day together."

The battle turned against the armies of God and one of Saul's enemies-the Philistines-killed all three of his sons. Advancing into the core of Israel's command, the archers hit and weakened Saul. Saul knew the end was near, so he commanded his assistant to draw his sword and kill him. Saul did not want his enemies to have the satisfaction of killing or even torturing him. But his assistant refused to obey the order. So Saul's greatest enemy-himself- fell on his own weapon.

Saul ascended to greatness, but was never a great man. Instead of living with humility and gratitude for his opportunities, he lived the tragic life of presumption. He presumed to decide which of God's commands he would follow and which he wouldn't. God told him to utterly destroy the Amalekites-he chose to spare some of them and keep the spoils of battle. On another occasion, he presumed to offer sacrifices unto the Lord, a task that was reserved for the priests. The psalmist wrote, "Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression." (Psalm 19:13 NASB) A prayer Saul would have done well to pray. Instead, he gave into his base desires. Deut. 17:12 gives the penalty for presumptuous sin, it says, "And the man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel." (NASB) In falling on his own weapon, Saul was executing the judgement of Deuteronomy 17.

In his book, Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, Garrison Keillor says something that most people have thought, but few have vocalized as succinctly. After gossiping a bit about all the men folk at Lake Wobegon who were caught cheating on their wives, he wrote: "Men believe in their hearts that God will make an exception in their case and look the other way." (The Atlantic Monthly, Sept, 2001, p. 70)

As accurate as Keillor's assessment may be of what men believe, it doesn't reflect what will happen. God doesn't look the other way when we sin, neither does He make exceptions in our case. Galatians 6:7 says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (KJV)

God did not look the other way when Saul sinned.
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