It is said that every good story has an antagonist. There is no hero without the “bad guy.” When one approaches the biblical literature, it doesn’t take long to come in contact with the chief antagonist, the devil (Genesis 3:1-4). From the Garden of Eden, to the present day, the antagonist of Gods people is Satan (John 10:10). Satan does a lot of his work through the vehicle of willing rebels. He desires to sift and devour any and all he can (Luke 22:31; 1 Peter 5:8) and then use them to further accost Gods cause (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 4:14).
Much of biblical Israeli history is marked by the people of Philistia. The “Philistines” were an immigrant people from the military aristocracy of the island of Crete (Amos 9:7). Archeology has uncovered their love for strong drink. They were a people of excess. Since they were a sea faring people, they had the ability to trade with lands that were far away, which afforded them the best of military technology. They were a force to be reckoned with, especially since Gods people were namely herdsmen that would fight…and Philistia had well equipped warriors. Their ability to trade armed the Philistines with helmets, shields, coats of mail, swords and spears. This was superior weaponry, both offensive and defensive, to the army of Israel.
Worst yet, Israel had a king that refused to serve God sincerely. 1 Samuel 15 details the ungodliness of Saul, but it is 1 Chronicles 10 that details his undoing.
The Philistines had attacked deep into Israeli territory and Sauls army assembled at Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). Saul was not ready to battle because of his rebellion against God (1 Samuel 28:5). He had zero confidence that God would help him because the prophet Samuel had already told him that God had rejected him as king and would seek a man who would do all his will (1 Samuel 15:26ff). God refused to answer Saul by dreams, Urim, nor by prophets (1 Samuel 28:6).
“Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. And the Philistines followed hard after Saul, and after his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded of the archers. Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died. So, Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together. And when all the men of Israel that were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, then they forsook their cities, and fled: and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his sons fallen in mount Gilboa. And when they had stripped him, they took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry tidings unto their idols, and to the people. And they put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon” (1 Chronicles 10:1-10).
The Wages of Sin
The Bible makes plain “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but other wages are also paid. The wages of fear and panic, shame and embarrassment are also rendered to whom it is due. When the leader and shepherd of Israel was struck and all the royal seed was slain, panic and fear ran wild among the host of Israel.
Jesus knew and used this principle in preparing his disciples for what would happen upon His death. “And Jesus said unto them, all of you will stumble because of me this night, for it is written: I will strike the Shephard, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27). Solomon said, “The righteous are as bold as a Lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Sin takes the blessed assurance of Gods presence away from men, and leaves them weak and beggarly. They not only gave up the battle field, they forsook their cities, and ran away from the vicious oppressor.
This passage reveals the death of the first king of Israel, and his sons. And in greater detail then some might desire to consider, the brutal end of sin.
The king lay slain and the enemies of God come and strip him, and take the pieces that proclaim his royal position…and his head. They used this to tell the story among their people of victory over the God of Israel.
Just as the antagonist came to strip Saul of his royal apparel and flaunt his demise to all the world, so Satan, wants to come strip us from our Royal apparel and flaunt our failure to the world. The devil wants to strip Gods people of their good name, reputation, hope, influence and salvation. These and many other things are lost due to sin…and the end is brutal.
The devil wants the downfall of Gods people to be as public as possible. The devil will tempt you to “lose your head” in the public square with every intention to flaunt it around to the world. Sauls sin gave opportunity for the enemies of God to disgrace His name. And Christians that openly transgress and live in sin do the very same thing. Is your sin, or the sin of this author used to disgrace His name? Do people use your actions or the actions of this writer to mock the living God?
Just as the philistines fastened Sauls head in the temple of Dagon, the devil wants to “fasten” the very worst about godly men to cause shame, mockery and to weaken the cause of God. The end of sin is absolutely brutal, but thanks be to God that He has provided a way for man to be redeemed and reconciled. Jesus Christ came to this earth and paid the ransom price.
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