Evening Scripture: Finished 1 Kingdoms/ 1 Samuel by reading chapters 30-31 in my two-year Old Testament program. Saul and his sons meet their end at Mt. Gilboa while David rescues his kidnapped loved ones.
What a contrast between Saul and David there is in these last chapters of this book!
In their moments of weakness and despair, each one desperately sought the Lord. But David did so God’s way with an ephod while Saul used a method forbidden by God in consulting the witch of Endor.
The Gospel Transformation Bible sums up some of these contrasts wonderfully:
“The contrast between David and Saul continues to the end of Saul’s life. In chapter 30, David is in peril of his life at the hands of his own men, but he “strengthens himself in the LORD his God” (30:6).
In chapter 31, Saul is also in peril of his life—at the hands of the Philistines—and he finds no strength. Wounded, he is terrified that “these uncircumcised” will come and torture him, and so he asks his armor-bearer to run him through. When the latter refuses, Saul falls on his own sword (31:4).
The habits of a lifetime show themselves in extreme circumstances. From an early age, David was convinced that even a giant among the “uncircumcised Philistines” was no match for his big God (17:26). Through the encouragement of a faithful friend like Jonathan, David had developed the habit of finding strength in God (cf. 23:16). Saul, by contrast, had developed the habit of thinking little of God and regularly giving more weight to circumstances.
This meant that he vacillated between overwhelming fear and overweening pride, depending on the circumstances. Threats from “uncircumcised Philistines” held little fear for David but literally scared Saul to death.
The magnificent truth of the gospel is that to fear God (to give him ultimate weight) is to dispel all other fears (cf. Ex. 20:20; Rom. 8:35–39), even the fear of death: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11; cf. Isa. 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15; Heb. 2:14–15; Rev. 21:4).