Personal experience often confirms this biblical truth: “whatever a person sows he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It’s in the dark that we see our truest selves—who we really are when nobody’s watching. Usually, it’s in times of great stress that our private character is exposed with potentially public consequences. If you’re anything like me, this truth is difficult to admit.
In 1 Samuel 28:5, Saul was under great duress as the Philistines closed in for battle. When Saul sought God for rescue, God was silent. We know God had already sealed Saul’s fate, a promise previously relayed to him through the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 15:28).
Saul’s true character is exposed when he secretly turns to a medium hoping for a way out. The answer Saul receives is ironic. The spirit of Samuel seems to appear in the cover of darkness to further confirm God’s previous word, the word the desperate king hoped he could to escape: Saul’s kingdom would fall.
Christian wisdom tells us that while godly character may manifest itself in great moments, it is forged in small ones—seemingly small moments of obedience. Conversely, patterns of unrepentant rebellion will eventually lead to final judgment. Saul had long before prepared his own table (1 Samuel 2:29-30). Now he would swallow a last meal prepared by a witch. “The LORD [had] done exactly what he said” (28:16-19, 24-25).
Saul had abandoned the way of obedience his entire life, and the Lord had stopped speaking to him. Sadly, it seems Saul was never truly repentant. But before we cast the first stone, let us again admit that we are no better than Saul. The good news is our story doesn’t have to end like this.
When we are truly repentant and cry out for salvation, God is not silent. In fact, He has already spoken. On the cross, Jesus has already reaped what you have sown (Romans 6:23). He consumed the full plate of judgment that you and I deserved. Because of Christ, instead of groping in the dark like Saul, we can walk into the light—exposed, repentant, and forgiven.
It is often said, “As the king goes, so do the people.” Thankfully, God delivered ancient Israel from the wickedness of King Saul, who fell at the hands of the Philistines. In our case, God delivers us through the righteousness of Jesus. He is the eternal King who died at the hands of men, but rose again to set men free. His kingdom will never fall.
Because of the grace of Jesus Christ, we can humbly accept the warnings associated with the life of Saul. Every word of warning before the final judgment is actually a word of mercy.
Written by Matt Capps