1 Samuel chapter 28. Don’t let sorry be the hardest word. Be willing to repent!
What do you do when you reach a low point in your life and you ask God for a Word, but you hear nothing back? When you need wisdom, for example when you have an important life or death task to complete and you need to put your heart and soul into it.
This was the case with King Saul. He was called by God to be King of Israel, anointed by God’s holy prophet Samuel. Unfortunately, he screwed it all up with disobedience. Saul’s view of the crisis in this passage is that he needed to win the next day’s battle against the Philistines.
So, what went wrong, why could he not hear from God? I shall not try to give a complete answer but rather highlight a few points from this passage.
When anyone refuses to speak to us, it is usually a sign that we have upset them. Such is the case here. We know from 1 Samuel 15 that God had rejected Saul as king of Israel because Saul did not follow God’s instructions to destroy the Amalekites. Despite strong challenging words from Samuel, Saul was more concerned about not losing face in front of the people rather than seeking the approval of God through being obedient. He may have been proud of heart and not willing to humble himself in repentance. Samuel grieved Saul’s sin before he died.
In 1 Samuel Chapter 18, we see Saul’s unrepentant desperation. He was willing to violate his own and God’s law to find a medium (in our local context this was a bomoh). The bomoh saw the spirit of Samuel coming out of the ground. In verse 15 Saul told Samuel, “I am in great distress”. He knew that God had turned away and would no longer answer him. Samuel told him that he was going to die with his sons within the next 24 hours. He fell prostrate full length on the ground In verse 20. He was very distressed.
What was the next step Saul should have taken? Surely it was to reflect on when and why the Lord had stopped speaking to him. He should have recalled Samuel’s words and poured out his heart before the Lord in repentance. Why didn’t he do this? His heart was hard and not willing to repent.
The grace of God is bigger than our sin. Saul had gone deep into sin and murdered many innocent people, with his homicidal jealousy of David. Later on, King David also caused innocent deaths but despite this, repented and found his way back to God. Another wicked king of Judah, called Manasseh, repented of despotic murder and idolatry and became reconciled to God, (see 2 Chronicles 33:11-13). However, it is not clear if Saul repented before his death.
When we are challenged by God, sometimes we can do many things except to repent. We can fall down, cry, wail, spend money, blame others, play the victim, or just cover it up and lie. Judas threw the 30 silver coins for betraying Jesus into the Temple. He was remorseful about his guilt and committed suicide in a violent, gory fashion. But he did not seem to repent. Sorry really does seem to be the hardest word. God finally spoke to Saul albeit in a highly unusual way, through Samuel’s spirit because the usual channels would not have got through to Saul. He was too hard of heart.
When we come before God and repent, when we apologise to Him for our sins, His grace is able to reach us. The rehabilitation and recovery may not be easy. We may need to apologise and make restitution to people, but it is worth humbling ourselves before God to do it.
Suggested prayer: Lord Jesus, may I be sensitive to the leading of Your Spirit to repent and be sorry for my sins, whenever I need to be. May I never become so hard of heart, and too proud to repent. May I recall that the grace of God is able to triumph over all sin and seek Your forgiveness and restoration. In Jesus Name. Amen.