Summary: It is not enough to have great potential or show great promise. It is what you do with that potential that makes all the difference. A good beginning does not guarantee a good end. End your life well, to the glory of God.
Whatever we start, do it well and end it well. Put your heart in it and do a good job. It is more important how we end than how well we start.
• This is so true of Saul’s life. He started well, but did not end well.
• We are going to read about his death today (1 Sam 31), and I’ve entitled my message – don’t waste your life – to remind ourselves that we want to live a purposeful life and end it well, to the glory of God.
Saul started out well, actually. He was anointed by God and given the chance to lead his nation.
• 1 Sam 9:2 says he was “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites - a head taller than any of the others.”
• But a good beginning does not guarantee a good end. It is not enough to have great potential or show great promise. It is what you do with that potential that makes all the difference.
If we squander His blessings, you would have wasted the opportunities God has given us. Don’t spurn the grace of God in our lives.
Let’s read 1 Sam 31:1-7.
• The author reveals more how exactly Saul died in 2 Sam 1:1-12.
David got to know of Saul’s death on the third day after his return from fighting the Amalekites… in order words, both battles could have happened about the same time.
• We see the grace of God here. He led David away from Aphek and avoided the fight against his own nation Israel (where Saul and his sons would be killed).
• And having David returned in time to rescue his family from the Amalekites.
• “… in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
The author described Saul’s death at great length. In fact, we only had one simple line that says his sons were killed (31:2). Nothing more.
• We don’t know how Jonathan died. Some of us may like to know because Jonathan has been David’s most loyal supporter. He risked his life to save David.
From the way this part of Israel’s history was written, it is clear that the author wants to track TWO LIVES – Saul and David.
• He swings between Saul and David, telling us what happens on Saul’s side and then what happens on David’s side.
• Most of the time, they are at two different places, except the few occasions they converge.
The author’s primary interest is to contrast Saul with David. It is not a chronological record of historical events.
• He wants us to see two different lives with two different hearts – one drifting further and further into disobedience, and the other drawing closer and closer to God in obedience.
• One is a heart that is after his own heart; the other is a heart that is after God’s own heart.
And today we read the conclusion of the life without God – a tragic end, filled with gloom and doom.
• This is not that God has not been good to Saul, or that He has not shown him favour.
• God has anointed him as King. Once the Spirit of God fell upon Saul and he prophesied.
Saul has chosen to take a different path on his own and rejected God’s Word.
• Both David and Saul have been disobedient. They were both imperfect in many ways.
• But one was more willing to admit his wrongs and return to God. David humbled himself and sought God’s will.
• The Lord honours such a HEART – a heart after His own heart.
Can Saul be a David? Yes! If he wants to. God does not show favouritism (Rom 2:11).
When the Israelites made the mistake of asking for a King, listen to what the Lord says through Samuel in 1 Sam 12:19-25.
19 The people all said to Samuel, "Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king."
20 "Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22For the sake of His great name the LORD will not reject His people, because the LORD was pleased to make you His own. 23As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away."