Desperation leads us to do things we normally would not do. Confronted by the Philistine army Saul becomes very afraid. He seeks God and gets no response. Then desperation sets in. What happens next is almost humorous.
Saul, in keeping with the law, has expelled all the mediums and spiritists from Israel. Yet, when he thinks he needs one and asks that one be found his attendants immediately respond that one can be found in Endor. Biblical geographers think that Endor was probably just over the border from Israel. The humor comes from the speed with which Saul’s attendants tell him where this forbidden resource is to be found.
The rest of the story is not at all funny. Approaching the end of his life Saul can think of only one person who might help him avoid the inevitable. He asks the medium to call up Samuel.
Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”1 Samuel 28:15 NIV
I do not understand why, but God allows Samuel’s spirit to rise and hold a brief conversation with Saul. Samuel begins by repeating the message he has conveyed to Saul in the past, the kingdom is lost to Saul and has been given to David. Samuel continues and informs Saul that the battle the next day will be lost and Saul with his sons will die in the battle.
At this point the medium has her own bit of desperation. She wants Saul to eat something so that he is strong enough to go away. She knows that Saul will die in battle the next day and I am certain she wants Saul to be as far away as possible.
I do not know what would have happened if Saul had sought God, stepped down from the throne, and surrendered the kingdom to David. I do know that he hung on to his throne as long as he could in futile desperation.
What about us?
It is certainly possible for us to become as desperate as Saul. There are many opportunities for us to be overcome with fear. Fear often threatens me when I anticipate a difficult conversation. I expect that most of us are tempted to fear catching Covid and getting seriously ill. Rather than focus on our potential fears I want to encourage us to do what Saul seemed unwilling to do.
We can always trust God. Remembering His promises, we will be filled with hope and courage to face whatever is coming. We can always look to the cross, confess our sins, and know with certainty that we have been forgiven. Our past does not determine our future. Instead, Christ’s past sacrifice and resurrection guarantee our future. We can always choose to serve. Our significance does not come from status or position. God is our Father, and our significance comes from His bringing us into His family as His children.
Saul lost all confidence in God and was overcome by desperation. His life did not end well. Maintaining and increasing our confidence in God we can finish well.