Red Village Church

Saul and the Medium – 1 Samuel 28:1-25

In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel.And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” 2 David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.” 3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city.And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land.4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem.And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa.5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.”

1 Sam. 28:1-7

This morning, as we gather together to continue in our study of 1 Samuel, we come to perhaps the most interesting passage in the book simply because it is a little strange, a little odd. In that, this details a medium, which in some translations, they use the word “witch.” There is a seance with Samuel, or at least a Samuel-like figure, coming from the dead to speak to Saul.

There is a lot going on. A lot of odd things in the text. And because of how odd this text is to us, the temptation is to get so focused on trying to understand the various odd details that we can actually miss out on the emphasis of the text. Which I think is an emphasis on how far Saul had fallen as he became completely engulfed in sin.

And because I think that is the emphasis of the text, I wanted to start this time together by refreshing ourselves on where we have been in our study of 1 Samuel when it comes to the character of Saul. Now the time frame is hard to know exactly how much time has passed from when we first met Saul in chapter 9 to our text today, but probably somewhere around 30 years – Saul’s entire adult life.

In chapter 9, when we first met Saul, we met a young man who was tall and good-looking, in fact, the tallest and best-looking man in the area. And not only was Saul tall and good-looking, he was also from a wealthy family, which made Saul the ideal candidate to fulfill the wishes of God’s people who, in the previous chapter, chapter 8, demanded from God that he would give them a king like the kings of the nations around them.

In chapter 9, after we learned some biographical details about Saul, he read about a donkey search and rescue mission that he was on with one of his father’s servants. And shortly into the search, we learned a couple of things about Saul in terms of his character. First, Saul didn’t seem to be a hard worker, perhaps spoiled.

And that seemed to be the case because after looking around for just a bit for the donkeys, Saul wanted to just go home and give up the mission, even though the donkeys were still on the loose. The only reason Saul didn’t follow through on giving up was because of the servant who went with him, who insisted they keep looking.

Secondly, Saul didn’t seem to be very committed to the OT faith in God. That didn’t seem to be the case because, as the servant of Saul insisted they keep looking for the donkeys, the servant also suggested that they seek out Samuel, who was the great prophet and priest, to see if Samuel could help them. Even though Samuel was the great prophet and priest over Israel, incredibly famous, Saul had no clue who he was.

So that is how we first met Saul: good-looking, rich kid, seemingly kind of spoiled, with seemingly no real interest in the things of God. However, surprisingly to even Saul himself, as the people of God were looking for their king, a king after their own heart to rule over them, Saul was exactly who they were looking for. As mentioned, he looked the part: tall, good-looking, wealthy. That is all they cared about. He checked all of the external boxes, and because he checked those boxes, his lack of character and spiritual health were of little to no concern to them.

So, reading in chapters 9 and into 10, we see that Saul became the king over Israel. As Saul first became king, he actually did a pretty good job. In chapter 10, God’s empowering Spirit fell on Saul, and he became very popular and well-liked among the vast majority of the people. In chapter 11, Saul was used by the Lord to rally God’s people together in ways that they defeated the Ammonites, which led to the kingdom that Saul was over being renewed. This brought a lot of unity and rejoicing for God’s people.

At the start of his reign, Saul even had Samuel pretty involved and active in helping him lead. So, it was really a pretty good start for Saul. But then we got to chapter 13, and the good start very quickly went away. The reason for that was because of an unlawful sacrifice that Saul made. The context of the sacrifice was that things were not good for God’s people. Their rivals, the Philistines, were on the attack against them, and the Philistines had God’s people on the run.

As the battle waged on, Saul sent for Samuel to make sacrifices before the Lord with the hopes that the Lord would intervene. However, as Samuel was delayed in coming to the military camp that Saul and his men had set up, we read that the morale of the men started to go south and go south fast. In fact, the morale was so low that more and more started to go AWOL from Saul and his army.

This put Saul into a bit of a panic. Rather than trusting in the Lord and His timing on when Samuel was to arrive, Saul decided he had to take matters into his own hands. He could not wait on the Lord or Samuel any longer, so Saul himself offered up the sacrifice, even though biblically speaking, this was a job reserved only for the priest.

As Saul made this unlawful sacrifice and broke God’s law, this is where we began to first see issues of control that Saul struggled with. The rest of his reign in Chapter 13, as Saul made his unlawful sacrifice, the Lord became angry towards him – angry in such a way that the Lord rejected Saul that day from being king. From there, the life of Saul has been a snowball of sin that continued to build. The good start of Saul very quickly turned into a sinful disaster.

Saul has proved time and time again to be such a cautionary tale for us. I won’t go through all of the details of Saul’s spiraling downfall, but let me give some more cliff notes. In Chapter 14, Saul was recorded running his mouth and making rash vows. In Chapter 14, he was recorded being a terrible dad who was willing to see his son Jonathan killed in order that Saul could save face. In Chapter 15, Saul rejected more clear instructions from God in terms of how Saul was to wipe out the Amalekites, who were a wicked people, only for Saul to reject this command for his own personal gain.

Chapter 17 is the famous story of David and Goliath. In Chapter 17, where David stepped in the gap for God’s people to be their representative to fight their battles. This should have been Saul fighting, but he was too much of a coward to do so. In Chapter 18, Saul’s jealousy towards David started to really amp up. So for the first time, Saul tried to kill David, even though David was his trusted and loyal servant. As you may remember in that passage, Saul tried to pin David to the wall with a spear.

This is where Saul’s control issues started to really spiral out of hand as he was doing all he could to keep his power. Also, in Chapter 18, we read more details about how terrible a dad Saul was as he tried to use his precious daughters as pawns in his ongoing attempts to kill David.

In Chapter 19, there was another attempt by Saul to kill David. Chapter 20 sheds more light on how bad of a dad Saul was as he really went after Jonathan with harsh words because of Jonathan’s friendship and help toward David.

In Chapter 22, Saul employed his evil servant Doeg, who went on a murderous rampage in a city called Nob, where Doeg killed everything, including all but one priest. In Chapter 23, there were more attempts on David’s life as Saul was basically using every resource available to him to kill David, obsessed with keeping his power and control.

Finally, in Chapters 24 and 26, Saul made some empty promises to be good to David after David spared his life in both of those chapters, promises that he really had no intentions of keeping.

So From chapter 13 on it has been just spiraling sinful disaster for Saul Who had little regard for God’s Word Who could not give up his control his power who refused to repent and seek the Lord’s forgiveness Who would mow down anyone who dared to stand in his way.And all that we have read about Saul was building towards today’s passage this odd passage which is the culmination of just how far this man had fell.Good looking good guy who had a good start Only to finish in incredible sinful ugliness.So with that as a bit of a refresher Look back with me starting in verse 1 Where we read that the hated Philistines were back on the attack Where they gathered their forces to fight against Israel And as the Philistines were on the attack We read that Achish who we learned last week was the King of the Philistine city of Gath Went to David As said to him David understand that you and your men are to go with in the army to fight Now as a reminder from our text last week.David was not in a great place seemingly burnout So he fled to Gath where he became a mercenary for Achish Who had deep trust in David which was brought on because David was deceptive towards Achish Where David was able to convince Achish that he jumped ship and became a traitor to God’s people.

In our text today, Achish is trusting David, believing that David would continue in what Achish thought were traitorous ways and go to fight against Israel. As Achish made this request of David, we see that David agrees. In verse 2, David says to Achish, “Very well, you shall see what your servant can do.” To which Achich responded, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

However, David’s agreement here seems to be more deception on his part. He was trying to buy time to figure his way out of the jam he put himself in when he agreed to be Achish’s mercenary. In our text today, through his cunning ability, David was able to further convince Achish that he was indeed on his side. He was so convincing that Achish even made him his personal bodyguard. This will come back into play in our text when we get to chapter 29.

But then in our text today, there is a bit of a transition from details surrounding David, only for the author to take us back to Saul. This transition begins in verse 3, where the author reminds us that Samuel had died, and all of Israel mourned for him, burying him in his hometown of Ramah. Before Samuel died, he was able to convince Saul that all of the mediums, witches, and necromancers (wizards or magicians) were to be put out of the land.

If we were just reading 1 Samuel for the first time, this would feel a little strange, a little odd, and a little random for the author to remind us again that Samuel died and to share one of the initiatives he had before he died. But this information here, this is the author setting us up for what was to come.

In verse 4, as the Philistines gather their forces together, we see that they set up camp at Shunem, which appears to be a location well into Israel’s territory. While they set up camp there, Saul was able to gather together all of Israel to defend its land, and they camped out in Gliboa, maybe 8 miles southeast of the Philistine camp.

In verse 5, as the two armies set up camp, we read that Saul went on a scouting trip as he traveled the 8 miles to get a view of the Philistine camp and see with his own eyes what he was up against. What Saul saw was really concerning because the size of the Philistine army was massive, so massive that Saul’s heart was instantly gripped with fear, to the point where his heart began to tremble.

Such fear overtook Saul that he started to panic and scramble, trying to figure out what to do. So, in verse 6, Saul started to inquire of the Lord, but we read that the Lord would not answer him. There were no dreams, no answers through the OT practice of casting lots by Urim, and no prophet sent his way. It was nothing but silence, which I am sure was terrifying for Saul.

Now, I should mention here that the Lord didn’t answer Saul, not because He was absent or too busy doing something else on the far end of the universe. Likewise, the Lord didn’t answer because He was apathetic to what was going on in the world, nor was He being cruel. Rather, there was no answer in this scene because the Lord had already made it clear to Saul that He had rejected Saul as king. This rejection was evident in chapters 13 and 15, as the Lord, through Samuel, let Saul know that he was rejected because of his sinful actions.

So, even though the Lord didn’t answer Saul here in verse 6 of our text today, the Lord had already made His intentions clear to Saul. Saul just didn’t listen; he didn’t believe what God had said.

In verse 7, as Saul did not get what he wanted from the Lord in our text, we read that he then decided it was time to look to other places for answers, meaning the answers that he wanted. Saul called over his servants and gave them orders to go and find a medium so that he may inquire of her. This marks the point where Saul said, “The Lord won’t tell me what I want to hear; it’s time to look elsewhere.”

By the way, this is just how far the snowball of sin had grown in Saul’s heart. He was looking for a medium, a witch, to solve his problems. As Saul gave his instructions, we see that the servants already had someone in mind, which probably says something to us about the people Saul surrounded himself with.

In the text, the person the servant had in mind was a medium from the area of En Dor. Here’s an interesting point about En Dor: it was located on the other side of the Philistine camp. To get to En Dor would have been a difficult and dangerous journey for Saul. Due to this danger, in verse 8, we read that Saul went into his costume bag to put on some garments that would help disguise him and the two men who were with him. This was to prevent them from being noticed and caught by the Philistines. With their costumes on, they made their way to En Dor under the cover of night, no doubt to also help keep themselves hidden.

As Saul came to the woman, we read that he said to her, “Divine for me a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” At first, the medium gave Saul much pushback. At the start, Saul’s disguise kept his identity hidden from her as well. In the text, the medium responded to Saul with reluctance, saying, “No, I am not going to do this for you. Surely you know what Saul has done, how he cut off the mediums and necromancers from the land. I am not going to help you with this request and have word get out about what I just did. I am not going to risk my life for you. Are you just here to lay a trap for my life and bring about my death?”

In verse 10, as the woman protested the request from Saul, we read that Saul responded back by swearing to the Lord that “as the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” It’s worth noting the audacity of Saul here. He is going to see a medium, and as he does this, he invokes the name of the Lord, essentially bringing a curse upon himself. There is no fear or reverence towards God in this action. Saul is so consumed with the desire to keep his power and control that he doesn’t seem to understand the over-the-top hypocrisy he is displaying by invoking the name of the Lord while trying to get a witch to use black magic to communicate with the dead. It’s a wild and contradictory act.

In verse 11, as the woman heard Saul’s assurance that he wasn’t there to set a trap, she was convinced. She let her guard down and asked Saul who he wanted her to summon from the dead. Saul responded that he wanted Samuel, which is another indication of how much of a sinful mess Saul was in. He was using a witch to talk to the great prophet and priest, even though our text already told us that Samuel was dead.

As Saul made this request with the hope that Samuel could answer why the Lord did not respond to him in verse 6, the woman went into her seance to try to meet his request. During her black magic ritual, she actually saw Samuel, or at least a Samuel-like figure. When she saw Samuel, she screamed out with a loud voice.

Now, this is where the text takes an odd turn, and it can be very tempting to focus solely on trying to figure out what is going on here. It’s important to understand what is happening, but it can’t be the sole focus of this text. The primary purpose of this text, as I’ve mentioned, is to show us and warn us of how far Saul had fallen, which 1 Samuel has been building toward throughout much of the book.

With that being said, let’s think through the odd details here by mentioning a few things. First, the medium’s screaming. Perhaps she screamed because she knew it was some kind of godly figure approaching her, which is what verse 13 indicates. How she describes what she saw to Saul seems to show that maybe she didn’t fully know it was Samuel, but she could tell enough that this was some kind of godly figure, which had her terrified. Or perhaps she screamed simply because she actually saw someone. Maybe, up to this point, any time she would do a seance, it was just an act, a way of making money, like a fortune teller at the circus looking into a crystal ball. So perhaps, for the first time, the medium actually saw someone, and that caused her to panic and scream.

Second, was this actually Samuel coming to communicate from the dead, or was this just some figure who appeared to look like Samuel?

There is indeed a debate throughout Christianity on whether this was or was not actually Samuel. Personally, I tend to think that the text presents this in such a way that this was actually Samuel, not just a figure who looked like him. This brings forth a lot of discussion that we don’t have time to work through here concerning what happens when one dies and whether there is some kind of intermediate state that one enters into before the final judgment. As mentioned, we don’t have time to delve into that, but I would be happy to discuss it further with those who have an interest.

As far as our text goes, I do think this was actually Samuel. That’s how the author presents it, and we’ll explore more of why in just a moment.

Third, how was the medium able to do this? How was she actually able to call Samuel from the dead to communicate? From what we see in Scripture, there is something there when it comes to the world of the occult, and through demonic forces, there is power that some tap into, leading to experiences that are hard for us to wrap our minds around.

Sometimes it can be challenging for us to comprehend the spiritual world, but Scripture is clear that there are forces of evil powerfully at work around us. This is why we should never play around with occult-type things, as if there is nothing to them. There are indeed dark forces of evil that are present and active at times.

I agree that these forces don’t have the power to communicate with the dead, but some may indeed be able to communicate with the demonic world, which is a concerning thought. In the text, even though I believe it was Samuel, I don’t think the text presents Samuel’s appearance as the result of the medium using some kind of dark power to summon him. Instead, it seems that in the text, it was the Lord who sent Samuel to the woman to speak to Saul as an act of judgment on Saul.

Fourth, it’s crucial to emphasize that this is not a normal passage; it’s odd to us for a reason. This is not a common occurrence where the Lord uses dead prophets to speak to us through visions. This is a descriptive passage of an incredibly unique story, one of its kind in the Scripture. It’s not a prescription by which we are to understand how God commonly works. Because of that, it should feel odd to us, and this is why we must stay focused on the big picture of this text, which is Saul’s demise. This story has themes that can be relatable to our own hearts over time, leading to our potential downfall, which we’ll explore in a bit.

Back to the text, at the end of verse 13, as the woman spotted Samuel, it also became apparent to the medium just who it was that came to her, making this request. The medium began to understand that it was actually Saul behind the disguise. So she said to Saul, “Why did you deceive me by coming in costume?”

The woman recognized Saul and said, “I know who you are now; you are Saul.” To which Saul responded, “Yes, I am Saul, but you do not need to be afraid of me. I am going to do you no harm. Please tell me, you saw something that caused you to scream. Tell me, what did you see?”

The woman replied, “Saul, I did see something. I saw a god coming up out of the earth.” To which Saul asked her to describe the figure. She described him as an old man wrapped in a robe. This seems to indicate that she didn’t recognize him as Samuel; she simply described what she saw, whatever her understanding might have been.

In the end of verse 14, we see that Saul knew without a doubt that it was Samuel. As he learned that it was indeed Samuel, Saul fell to the ground on his face to pay homage to the great prophet and priest. This act is yet another display of hypocrisy in Saul.

In verse 15, somehow, seemingly through the medium, Samuel and Saul began to converse. I know it’s odd, but in the text, Samuel rebukes Saul with some real annoyance in his tone, rebuking Saul for disturbing him by bringing him up. Saul responded to Samuel’s rebuke by saying, “Samuel, I brought you back because I am so stressed out right now. You see, the Philistines, they have this huge army, one that is way more powerful than what we have. They are already in our land, and they want to wage war against me.”

Saul continued, “As I saw their massive army, it was clear there was no way we could win this. And by the way, Samuel, before you get too angry and annoyed at me, here’s the deal: before I brought you back, I actually inquired of the Lord first. So, really, I did the right thing. Before seeking to disturb you, I did what you taught me to do all those years back—I sought the Lord. But you know what, Samuel? God has turned away from me, and I got nothing. No answers, neither by prophet nor by dream. Nothing. And because I got nothing from the Lord, I had to turn somewhere. So, really, you can’t be mad at me. This wasn’t really my fault. I summoned you so you could tell me what to do, like you used to do in the old days when I first became king.”

To this, Samuel responded with further annoyance, saying, “Saul, why are you asking me? If the Lord has turned from you to be your enemy, what do you think I can do for you?” In verse 17, Samuel continued, “Saul, is this information about the Lord not responding to you when you inquired of Him really that surprising to you? The Lord is doing to you what I already spoke to you about in chapters 13 and 15. The Lord is making good on His judgment over you, and indeed, the Lord is taking the kingdom out of your hand and giving it to your neighbor David, just like He told you He would all those years back when I was still with you. So, Saul, before you start whining over this, before you start further playing dumb as if you have no idea why this is all happening.”

Before you start to play some kind of victim card,” Samuel continued in verse 18, “the Lord is doing this because you, Saul, you did not obey the voice of the Lord when you did not carry out His fierce judgment against Amalek.” This is a further reference to chapter 15, Saul, because you disobeyed the Lord over and over again due to your obsession with power and control. Therefore, the Lord has done this thing to you this day.

Verse 19 adds to this judgment. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel, along with you, into the hand of the Philistines. Here, it seems that the Lord is judging the entire nation for how they went along with Saul for years and did not remove him from power. So, they too are being judged for their lack of faithfulness.

As God’s judgment was falling on Saul and on Israel, Samuel informed Saul just how severe the judgment would be on him. It would be a judgment of death for him and his sons. Samuel told Saul that they will be with Samuel. I think this specific means they will move from life into death.

By the way, this answer is one of the reasons why I do think this was Samuel and not some kind of demonic representation of Samuel that the medium was able to call up. Samuel, in this conversation, spoke truth, honored God’s word that was already given, and provided truthful information about what was to come, including specific judgment that would fall on Saul. Demons do not know the future; only God does. In this scene, God revealed this information to Samuel: that Saul and his sons would die, and the Lord would give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines. This was a sobering message for Saul to hear, one of strong judgment that left him in shock. Think about it—for years, he played the game of manipulation, seeking to maintain his power and control. I’m sure he thought he was getting away with it. But now, in our text, he learned that not only was he not getting away with it, but swift judgment was coming—tomorrow.

As Saul heard this from Samuel, in verse 20, he once again fell to the ground, his heart racing with fear. He had no strength in him because he had not eaten all day or all night. Here, we can imagine Saul lying face-first on the ground, just a puddle of a man. As Saul lay on the ground, overwhelmed with fear, the woman came to him.

Seeing that Saul was clearly terrified, the woman said to him, “Behold, your servant obeyed you in summoning Samuel. Even though I hesitated to do this because of how it put my life into his hands, I did it. I listened and obeyed the command that you gave me.” The woman continued, “Now, therefore, you obey me and eat the morsel of bread that I am setting before you, so that you might regain some strength to go on your way.”

It’s hard to tell if the medium is trying to be kind to Saul, caring for him, or if she is still in a panic herself from seeing Samuel and hearing the judgment that was about to come to Saul and his sons, so she is trying to hurry Saul away. Whatever her intentions are in the text, we see that she was not able to convince Saul, at least not right away, to get up and eat. Saul refused her request to eat, simply saying, “No, I will not eat.”

As Saul said no, his servants joined the woman, urging Saul to eat until he finally listened to their pleas. This led Saul to get up off the ground and sit on the edge of the woman’s bed, presumably waiting for some food to be given to him.

This leads to the conclusion of this odd text in verse 24. The woman went over to her fattened calf, which she quickly killed. She then took some flour and kneaded it to bake unleavened bread. In verse 25, she put all of the food she had just prepared on a plate and gave it to Saul and his servants to eat. After they ate, strength returned to Saul, so he got up with his servants and left that night. It must have been a lonely and terrifying walk for Saul, knowing that he was walking back to his camp to die sometime the coming day. It’s akin to a death row inmate who has just been given his last rights, ate his last meal, and is now being led to his execution. That was Saul at the end of our text today.

As I close, I want to reiterate that the main focus of this passage is not the odd details but the spiraling downfall of Saul. He started out relatively well only to end up in ugly sin, bringing severe judgment upon himself. Saul’s downfall, unfortunately, is not an odd story; rather, it can be all too common for us. As I conclude, I want to highlight a few warnings from Saul meant for us.

First, we see the theme of sin snowballing in Saul’s life. This is something we’ve discussed before in our study of 1 Samuel, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s been such a prevalent theme in Saul’s life. His life of sin snowballed with such intensity that here in chapter 28, which proves to be the end of Saul’s life, he was talking to a medium, seeking help. It’s ironic because our text reminds us that earlier in his life, Saul was the one who drove the mediums and necromancers out of the land.

In Chapter 13, what started as seemingly a small snowball of sin with Saul’s impatience for Samuel to arrive and perform the sacrifice grew over time. Deeper desires for power and control, manipulation, rash vows, poor parenting, and even putting foolish people into his inner circle – all these seemingly little things contributed to the snowball of sin that eventually crushed him. This odd passage serves as a cautionary tale about how a snowball of sin, if left unchecked, can lead to our downfall.

Friends, the story of Saul’s downfall due to sin is not unique; it’s a common story. Unless we repent by turning to God and seeking forgiveness, it could be our story as well. We all have our own “snowballs” of sin that, if not addressed, can ultimately crush us.

So, this morning, whatever your sin might be, whether it’s similar to Saul’s or something different, don’t be naive to think that sin is harmless, that it’s not a big deal. Don’t justify it, and don’t act like you have no idea about its consequences. God is very clear in His Word, and even in our conscience, He has given us an understanding of right and wrong when it comes to sin. We have no excuse.

Secondly, sin will eventually catch up to us. To reiterate, the snowball of sin will eventually crush us. This was undeniably true for Saul in this text. Perhaps for a long time, he appeared to be getting away with it, even manipulating his way out of trouble. But eventually, things caught up to him, just as they will for us. The longer we seem to get away with our sins, the worse and more painful the outcome will be. Sin always finds its way out. We may be fooling others and even ourselves, but we are not fooling the Lord.

Thirdly, sin will be judged. This is clearly on display in our text as God judged Saul and Israel for their sins. The reality of God’s judgment over sin is evident throughout His Word. He hasn’t kept this truth from us. He has been abundantly clear that we have all sinned and fallen short, and one day we will pay the wages of sin, which is death. We will join Samuel and Saul as we await the eternal judgment that is to come.

Friends, tragically, ever since sin first entered the world in Genesis 3, it may have seemed like a small snowball of sin at the time. Our first parents doubted what God had said and ate forbidden fruit. Since then, sin has been a stain that we all live with. By birth and by choice, we have all sinned. Scripture is abundantly clear that one day, God will come again to fully judge all sin, and there will be no excuses, no victim cards to play. Scripture tells us that on that day of judgment, all our mouths will be stopped. Sin will be judged, and this is a terrifying thought.

However, this leads to the last thing I want to emphasize this morning, and ultimately, I believe it’s where this text is pointing us: God sent a Savior to save His people from their sin. This is incredibly good news for us. When we read stories like Saul’s in Scripture and see his downfall, it’s a way for us to recognize our own personal downfalls, our own sin. As we are confronted by our own sin, we should feel conviction about how far short we have fallen. We should realize that there’s nothing we can do on our own to escape the judgment of God, the weight of our own sin. It should feel odd to think that somehow we can save ourselves, so we ought to know that we need someone to save us. In fact, we need God to save us from the mess we’ve put ourselves in.

The good news of the Scripture could not be more clear: God, in His love, grace, and mercy, sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to live a life we could never live—one without sin. Jesus stood in our place and died the death we deserved to die. On the cross, Jesus Christ took on the entire weight of sin, the entire weight of God’s judgment, so that we might find forgiveness. Scripture says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.”

So, friends, one last time, this is an odd story with details of a far too common downfall. However you might see yourself in this text, let that drive you to Jesus Christ—the one who came to die for sin and, through the power of God, rose again from the dead. He communicates God’s love, mercy, and grace to all who, by faith, turn and trust in Him. May the story of your life, however long the Lord may give you, be a story washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.