A Word From a Dead Man About Reaping and Sowing

Saul was afraid. The Philistines had gathered at Shunem, and not a few of them. They prepared to war against Israel, and God had stopped speaking to Israel’s king. Saul’s heart trembled in his chest. He had not listened to God before. But now, he wanted to hear from his Creator. Like kings had done before, Saul sought the voice of God in his dreams. But no answer. Like priests had done before, Saul listened for God in the Urim, but no dice. Perhaps he could hear the word of God from the prophets, but after seeking a word from heaven, he was left with a sick and chilling silence.
The prophet Samuel was dead. And Saul had cast all of the wizards out of the land. But the silence drove Saul mad, not to mention the hosts of the Philistines who were sharpening their blades. Saul was south of the Philistines with all Israel at Gilboa. And his men told him that if he could get past the Philistines, there was a woman at En-dor who could speak with the dead. God had spoken to Saul through Samuel before. And Saul was scared enough to call Samuel up from Hades if he could only have God’s help now. Yes, Saul had outlawed necromancy, and rightfully so, it being against God’s law. But, Saul had made a practice of breaking God’s law when the situation called for it. So Saul put off his kingly clothes for a disguise and snuck through the dark night to the witch’s house.
The witch was nervous. She knew Saul had outlawed her trade. But the disguised man who had made the request reassured her that all would be well. So she brought up Samuel from the belly of the earth, and she screamed when she saw him journey up from Sheol. Bodiless, Samuel asked King Saul why he had called him up. Saul replied that he needed Samuel’s help to know what he ought to do. Samuel told him, “Why do you ask me? The LORD has departed from you and become your enemy. Tomorrow, you and your sons will be with me in Hades.”
The word was too much for Saul. His fear grew too much to bear, and he fell to the earth. The necromancer herself pitied the king, who was weary and famished, being too sick to eat. He refused at first. But she prevailed upon him. And while he was not in the house of the Lord, a calf was slaughtered, and bread was baked. The night before he went down to Sheol, he received a bitter word in the witch’s house and ate a bitter meal from the witch’s hand.
Many chapters ago, God told Saul that he would tear the kingdom from him. And now we have finally reached the night before the tearing. Things might have been different if he had put his pride to death back when he boiled at the women’s songs of Saul slaying his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Things might have been different had he waited for Samuel to offer the lawful sacrifice. Things might have been different if he had slaughtered Amalek as God had commanded. But now it was too late. He was at the end of the line.
Momentum matters. Saul got better and better at the wrong things. He discovered that the longer you drift, the further you are away, and the tighter the grip of sin, the less like you are to get free.
This is a sobering word. And if we receive it with faith, then it is an encouraging word. Momentum, after all, works both ways. You can track more and more toward darkness or more and more toward light. You can grow more and more deaf to the voice of God, or you can hear more and more of his words. You can stumble toward crippling fear or stride toward courage.
Christians can fall into the temptation of thinking that only the end matters. We will think about marriage once we get there. We will develop a theology of parenting once we have kids. We will give sacrificially when we are older. We never get going because we are not at the finish line. We look at others, and they are far ahead of us in Christian virtue or service. So we decide we will do nothing since we will never be able to catch up anyway. But God says, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).
Maybe you haven’t yet rendered exceptional service to the Lord, but why should that stop you from serving Him now, in whatever small ways you can? Perhaps your faith is not great, but why should that stop you from trusting Him today with the little faith you have? All of God’s promises are yes and amen in Christ. And one of his promises to the saints is that he will see to completion the work he has begun in them. You then can trust him to sanctify you completely. And you can get to work, working out your salvation with fear and trembling. It is God, remember, who works in you to will and work for His good pleasure.
One day, you will find yourself at the end of the line. You are not there yet. And for the time being, God says, “You will reap what you sow.” So what are you sowing?