Saul’s Legacy

Wendy Blight

Day: 31 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 31

1 Samuel 31:6 (NIV) So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

Today is Saul’s day of reckoning. This day God exacted justice for the blood of the Amalekites Saul sinfully spared. The blood of the priests he sinfully spilled. The blood of David for which he sinfully sought and desperately schemed.

On the battlefield of Mount Gilboa, God fulfills Samuel’s haunting prophecy against Saul in 1 Samuel 28:18-19. This mountain that had once set the backdrop for Gideon’s great victory now becomes the scene of Saul’s shameful end.

In the heat of the Philistine battle, Saul watched his soldiers fall dead around him. He then watched as the Philistines slaughtered three of his sons one by one, including David’s beloved friend Jonathan. Saul knew he was next. The Philistines had already critically wounded him, and fearing further torture, Saul asked his armor-bearer to finish the job. He refused, so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. The king of Israel chose to die by his own hand, rather than be humiliated by the enemy.

The Philistines celebrated their victory in the most gruesome of ways. They hung Saul’s head in the temple of Dagon (1 Chronicles 10:10), displayed his armor in the temple of Ashtoreth and fastened his body to a wall as a trophy of their victory.

Saul’s tragic ending takes us back to God’s words in Deuteronomy 7:9-10. God promised to keep His covenant of love “to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” But “to those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction.”

We see this played out before our eyes with King Saul. He disobeyed God for years. He walked in his own ways. He failed to seek God’s counsel. And in the end, Saul even chose death by his own hand.

God kept His Word. He held Saul accountable. Israel’s enemies overtook them. Saul and his family died painful, humiliating deaths.

Though Saul’s life ends shamefully and tragically, it leaves a legacy of valuable lessons.

  • A life steeped in sin begins with compromise and small steps of disobedience.
  • Prideful justifications and excuses cannot replace humble confessions.
  • God-given gifts are worthless when not surrendered to the One who gifted them.

Yes, the first king of Israel was tall, handsome, strong, rich and powerful. But it all meant nothing without a heart surrendered to the One who placed him on Israel’s throne. Saul looked good on the outside but was spiritually bankrupt on the inside.

Friend, Saul’s life teaches us how not to live. David’s life teaches us how we should live. 

  • Walk consistently and faithfully, stacking small steps of obedience one on top of another.
  • Bow before God when we take a step of disobedience, swiftly and humbly confessing our sin without justification or excuse.
  • Surrender our God-given gifts and talents to our Creator, giving Him alone all the glory and honor for our successes.

Prayer: Father, help me to walk consistently and faithfully with You. Give me a heart of humility so that when I take even the smallest step off Your path, I will submit to Your words of discipline and turn back toward You. May I daily give back to You that which You have entrusted to me. May I never seek personal credit and always give You all the glory in everything I say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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