So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)
The Sad End Of A Great Man
There was a man of Benjamin named Kish who had a choice and a handsome son whose name was Saul. His son Saul was the most beautiful man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land. Judges had ruled the land of Israel since the days of Joshua and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Samuel was the last of the judges and when he was old, the people demanded a king to go before them. The Lord granted the request and Saul, son of Kish, was selected to command the people of God and save the people from the hand of the Philistines. Saul began his reign with great promise. When Saul was anointed king, God caused the Spirit of the Lord to come upon him and he prophesied among the prophets. At the new king’s coronation, Saul was not to be found. He was hiding among the baggage. Samuel ordained Saul as king as the chosen of the Lord.
Saul began with great promise as a humble man, but that would quickly change. Only a few years into his reign, the heart of Saul turned prideful and arrogant. His reign would last forty years and almost all of that time would be a time of turmoil and tragedy. He would chase the young son of Jesse, David, for much of his rule. His unlawful sacrifice set him on the wrong course and when he disobeyed the clear command of God to utterly destroy the Amalekites, God tore the kingdom from him. Samuel mourned for the tragedy of Saul’s life and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
The manner a man dies can often define the way he lives. When Saul went to war against the Philistines, he and his sons were killed. On the day following the battle, the Philistines came to strip the dead, and they found the bodies of Saul and his sons. Cutting off the head of Saul, they fashioned it to the temple of Dagon, the national god of the Philistines. The Holy Spirit writes that Saul died for his unfaithfulness, his refusal to obey the command of the Lord and for consulting the witch of Endor instead of seeking the counsel of God. So the Lord killed him and gave the kingdom to David.
David, son of Jesse, ruled over Israel for forty years and died. He faced many obstacles and trials in his life, but he maintained his faith in God. The Holy Spirit refers to David as a man after God’s own heart. He accomplished great things in his life for the kingdom of God. The story of David is an example of a sinner who faced the failures of life with the hope of the grace of God. What defines his life is his deep faith in God. When it came time for David to die, the record of his death was very different from Saul’s. David did not die in battle by his own hand. He died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor. His son Solomon took the throne, surpassing the nation of Israel to a period of prosperity never matched before or after. The name David is synonymous with faith and courage. His story is found in the book of Samuel the seer, in the book of Nathan the prophet, and the book of Gad the seer.
Saul and David are stories of contrast. God chose both to lead the people, but Saul lost his faith. David faced his temptations and failed, but his faith never diminished. He died a man of faith. The tragedy of some is when they face their trials without hope and promise and they give up on God. David could have turned away from God after what happened with Bathsheba. He would suffer many things as a result, but his faith did not fail him and he did not fail God. Saul allowed his pride to exalt his heart above God and he forgot God and lost his hope. The people took the bodies of Saul and his sons, burned them, and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh. David rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David.
You have a story to tell. What will be the end story? Will you be like Saul, who began with such great promise and lost his faith, or will you be like David, who endured the trials of life and kept his faith? The end story is the most important part of life because as a man dies is how he will live. Facing the reality of death with a heart filled with hope and promise in Jesus Christ is a life of faith. It is sad to know of people of God who once named the glorious call of the King of Kings who turned back to the world. Like Saul, they face the certainty of eternity in unfaithfulness. They do not keep the word of the Lord and seek the pleasures of life rather than the word of God. David died in peace. Saul did not die in peace. Let me live to be like David, resting with my fathers.