Casting Crowns came out with a song recently called “Slow Fade” in which they explain that Christians in particular don’t just dive into sin, yet we take baby steps until we realize we are in too deep.
This is exactly what happened to King Saul in 1 Samuel Chapters 13-15. I always wondered what King Saul did that was so terrible to receive the wrath of God, and by the way how did God’s anointed get himself to that point of rebellion against God?
1. Saul let his Fear of the Enemy Get in His Head! In 1 Samuel 13 the Philistines were pushing against the army of Israel and it wasn’t looking too good for King Saul. The Prophet of the Lord was late showing up to the battle field so Saul thought oh well I better make a burnt offering and a peace offering to God so that I can get His favor.
Well… This was the wrong move he was not authorized to do that, he had a plan that God had already set out and established with the prophet, yet he saw his army scattering and decided to try to manipulate God’s favor. Saul was rebuked but God was still with him. (Praise break aint it good when we sin yet God is still with us!) Saul ultimately let fear of the enemy push him to rash decisions.
2. Saul let the Fear of His people Get in the Way! In 1 Samuel Chapter 14 the Philistine army still had the upper hand. In fact they left the army of God without weapons. Saul’s son Jonathan took it upon himself to challenge their enemies and God gave him favor. God gave the Israelite so much favor that he caused the enemy camps to be in a state of confusion even attacking each other.
In 14:24 King Saul swears and oath “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes before I have avenged myself on my enemies.” The Israelites took this oath seriously they fasted and were given victory over their enemies that day! Unfortunately Saul’s son broke that oath and ate some sweet honey. Not only did he eat it but he spoke against his father’s decision to call the fast! This led to even more sin! once Jonathan had his way with the food some followed his foot steps and ate the plunder of the Philistines, breaking a Hebrew law by eating the animals with the blood still in the meat! (Notice how one sin from one person gives way to many sins by many people.)
God shows his displeasure in this sin in Chapter 14:37. When King Saul sought the favor of the Lord for their next battle the Lord did not answer. Saul let out another oath he would soon regret, ” As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if it lies (It being the sin of breaking the oath) with my son Jonathan he must die.” So they cast Lots and yes of course the sin lay with his very own son Jonathan who he said he would put to death.
So once again Saul gave into the fear that lead him to make a bad decision. Although he made this oath and God was clearly offended by the sin, he did not lift a finger to his son. Why? Because the men of Israel sided with Jonathan and threatened their King if he should carry out his oath.
3. Saul let the Fear of the People Get him Fired! Here comes the straw that broke the camel’s back in Chapter 15. The war is not over yet and God has given the Israelites favor so far. In Chapter 15:3 Saul receives the command of the Lord, “Now go attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
But what did King Saul do? He spared the King of the Amalekites and verse 9 says that They were unwilling to destroy completely everything that was good. Notice in verse 12 after this misstep having achieved victory, Saul went and set up a monument to his own honor! (Hmmm)
This is the funny but not so funny part… When rebuked by the Prophet Samuel for not carrying out the command of the Lord. King Saul replies, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” (Side Note: Once we have descended on the slippery slope of sin we will even began to deceive ourselves. Saul seems pretty confident here that he did what God had asked him to do)
He then tried to defend his action and said it was “the soldiers” who took the sheep and cattle. He added in verse 21 that it was not for their own sake but for the sake of the Lord they spared the best of the plunder to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord.
Maybe Saul thought he knew what was in God’s best interest concerning God’s instructions. But when pressed he had this to say in verse 24, “I was afraid of the people so I gave in to them.”
The Underlying theme? Can you see the underlying theme here? A humble young man full of promise, a righteous man that God called his anointed one has found himself fading into sin and ultimately rebuked by God and rejected as King. Why? Because of Fear. He feared his enemies, he feared the allies of his son, he feared the desires of the soldiers.
Bit by bit, choice by choice a righteous man fell to sin because of the fear of others. Interestingly enough the scripture says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge. Fear man or Fear God? What is driving your choices? What is keeping you from fading away?