July 9, 2008
I hope you are reading your Bible steadily through the summer. I hope you don’t miss a day. “On his law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2). I pray that there are times when it tastes so good, you slow down and steep your heart in it. Today was an especially rich day for me.
I was reading in four parts of the Bible—not for any preparation, but just to feed my soul. In every text another text came to mind that made each clearer. And that blew some fog away so I could see and enjoy God more fully.
1. Why did Saul die?
“Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.” (1 Chronicles 10:4)
“So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium.” (1 Chronicles 10:13)
“The Lord put him to death.” (1 Chronicles 10:14)
One reason Saul died is that he committed suicide. Another is that he broke faith with the Lord much earlier. Another is that God put him to death. None of these excludes the others. To say God is the decisive actor does not mean Saul did not act. To say there are physical causes for a death (suicide) does not mean there were not moral causes (infidelity).
To say that Saul brought his demise on himself (by infidelity and suicide) does not mean God did not bring it on him. We would be unfaithful to Scripture if all we said was that the reason Saul died was the natural consequence of his own behavior. We must also say, “The Lord put him to death.”
There was real punishment, not just impersonal, natural consequences. God is personal. God put him to death. There was punishment by a judge and executioner. There was wrath. The Bible is designed to make sure we do not turn death and hell into impersonal consequences. “The Lord put him to death.”
Therefore, I was sobered this morning. I trembled in my spirit. I bowed to God’s right and authority to give and take life. I reverenced him. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
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