The Tragic Demise of a Good Man II Sam. 1: 17-27 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Three times in David’s lamentation for Saul and Jonathan in 2 Sam 1:17-27, David said, “How are the mighty fallen,” [2 Sam 1:19, 25, 27]. Saul, indeed, was a mighty man. He had an excellent beginning as the first King of Israel. Saul was a good person [1 Sam 9:1-2, a choice young man], he was God’s choice [1 Sam 9:17; 10:1; 10:24], he was humble [1 Sam 9:20-21], the Spirit of God was on him [1 Sam 10:9-10; 11:4-6], and he was a successful military captain [1 Sam 11:7-11; 14:47-48]. And yet he came down terribly. In him we see the tragic demise of a good man.
What caused Saul’s tragic demise?
Pride – 1 Sam 13:3-4. Jonathan and the thousand men who were with him “smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba.” Yet, when Saul blew the trumpet for all Israel to hear, “all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines.” Saul took credit for the victory that Jonathan had won. Saul, initially, wasn’t one to draw attention to himself. When Saul was chosen to be the king of Israel he had hidden himself among the stuff [1 Sam 10:22]. However, by the time he had reigned two years he wanted to be “front and center.” Pride and ambition will take you down when God gives you something to do for him. You must humble yourself and fight the old man’s temptation to seek recognition and honor for what you do.
Disobedience – 1 Sam 13:13. When Samuel anointed Saul to be king, he gave Saul several things to do. One of those things was for Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to come down and offer burnt offerings and sacrifices of peace offerings [1 Sam 10:8]. However, when Saul was in Gilgal, his troops were scattering from him, Samuel was late and the Philistines were coming. So, he disobeyed Samuel’s instructions and offered his own burnt offering, instead [1 Sam 13:12]. He justified his disobedience with the spiritual excuse; “I have not made supplication to the Lord.” Listen, “I prayed about it” is never justification to disobey God. Saul knew what he was doing was wrong and chose to do it anyway. His decision cost him the kingdom. And your disobedience will cost you dearly, as well.
Saul disobeyed again when the Lord commanded him to slaughter all the Amalekites and their possessions. Instead, Saul kept the Amalekite king, Agag, alive and kept alive the best of the sheep, oxen, failings and lambs [1 Sam 15:9]. Thus, God rejected him from being king over Israel [1 Sam 15:21-24]. When God gives you a command, he expects you to obey it to the letter. Your disobedience will ruin you.
Hypocrisy – 1 Sam 14:33-34 Saul could see the sin of his men eating “with the blood,” but he couldn’t see his own sin of disobeying the Lord [1 Sam 15:13, 20]. This is the problem with hypocrisy. You can see “their” sin, but you can’t see “yours.” The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the sabbath, though he never broke it. Yet they couldn’t see that they were breaking the sabbath in the temple by buying and selling, exchanging money and selling doves [Matt 21:12-13]. Hypocrites see sin in others and miss the sin in their own lives. Listen, if you are one of those who has razor sharp insight into the sins of the brethren, you better go to the mirror and take a hard look at yourself. You are overlooking the sins of the greatest sinner in the room. As the Pharisees’ hypocrisy destroyed them, and as Saul’s hypocrisy destroyed him, so your own hypocrisy will ruin you.
Envy – 1 Sam 14:39 Jonathan and his armor bearer killed about twenty men in the Philistines’ garrison near Michmash. That sent fear through the host of the Philistines and caused the armies of the Philistines to start beating down one another. The Jews wrought a great victory that day. Yet, Saul was so envious of Jonathan’s bravery that he was willing to kill Jonathan for disobeying an order that Jonathan never heard. Jonathan was with his armor bearer fighting the enemy when Saul gave the order to fast that day. Jonathan ate some honey. So, Saul cited him for disobeying the command and ordered his execution. “Who is able to stand before envy?” [Prov 27:4]
When David killed Goliath and the armies of Israel, subsequently, routed the Philistines, the women began to sing, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Saul was furious [1 Sam 18:7-9]. He was eaten up with envy. And so he spent the rest of his reign trying to kill David. If you can’t appreciate the things God is doing in other peoples’ lives that are greater than what he is doing in your life, your envy will destroy you. “Envy (is) the rottenness of the bones,” [Prov 14:30]. I believe envy is one of the underlying reasons that men split churches to start their own. They can’t stand to see God using someone they don’t like.
Fear of Man – when you fear men, you will either be ensnared to do what they want you to do, or you will be inclined to destroy them. In 1 Sam 15:24, Saul chose to disobey the Lord and keep Agag and the best of the animals alive because he “feared the people.” When you fear men, you will seek to please them, like a politician, to maintain your own status. Prov 29:25 says, “the fear of man bringeth a snare.” If you fear men then you don’t fear God. And if you don’t fear God you won’t do what he says; you’ll do what men say.
But the fear of men can also lead you to try to destroy them. The one person that Saul feared the most was David [1 Sam 18:12, 15, 29]. Saul could see that the Lord was with David, in a way that the Lord was not with Saul. So, Saul sought, throughout his reign, to destroy David. This kind of fear will lead you to destroy the men you fear like a dictator eliminating his opposition. If you want to succeed with the Lord, you must walk in the fear of the Lord. If you choose to fear men, you will be a total failure. You will forsake God’s will to do their will. And you will fight God’s men who do his will.
An Evil Spirit – 1 Sam 16:14-16 an evil spirit from the Lord troubled Saul. See 1 Sam 16:23 and 1 Sam 18:10-11 and 1 Sam 19:9-10. When the Spirit of the Lord was on Saul, he did well. But when the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him, he began to self-destruct. The same thing happened to Ananias and Sapphira when Satan filled their heart to lie to the Holy Ghost [Acts 5:3]. They died. Don’t think that evil spirits can’t affect you now that you’re saved. They can. The devil will do everything he can to draw you away from the Lord’s purpose for your life. You must not give place to the devil [Eph 4:27].
Conclusion: how are the mighty fallen 2 Sam 1:19, 25, 27. You do not want this to be how your life ends. If you are having trouble with one or more of these problems in your life, deal with it, or them, diligently and get back on track with God. Humble yourself. Obey God. Shun hypocrisy. Squelch envy. Fear God, not men. And be filled with the Spirit, not with the devil.