Content warning: this post contains mention of suicide
I still remember being about four or five years old, sobbing at night in my bed at the thought of death.
I didn’t really understand why I was crying. All I knew was that the idea of not existing anymore sounded terrifying, and I never wanted it to happen to me.
Now, as an adult, I’m still afraid of dying, but this time it’s because I’m afraid of regret.
I’m afraid I’ll regret the things I didn’t do. I’m afraid I’ll regret the things I did do.
But 1 Samuel 31 shows us that there’s something worse to fear at the end of our lives.
The longest death
1 Samuel 31 is a chapter about the end of Saul’s life.
It’s simple, brief, and blunt: Saul’s three sons died in battle. Saul committed suicide. The Philistines mutilated their bodies and put them on display—until a group of Israelites came and gave them a proper burial.
And all I can think about while reading this chapter is how differently Saul’s life could have ended.
He could have lived a long life. He could have grown old loving his wife, playing with his grandchildren, watching Israel grow as a nation.
He could have stepped down from the throne when God told him to.
But although Saul loved his wife, his kids, and his country, the last part of that ideal future was something he could not stand. He couldn’t do it. So he resisted God.
Maybe he defied God tentatively at first. He waited for God to strike him down with lightning. When it didn’t happen, he got bolder. He introduced more and more vices into his life.
He started to feel invincible. He started to feel like all he had grown up believing wasn’t really true. He started to feel like maybe he could let go of God and His laws for the rest of his life.
And then, suddenly, it was too late. God had given him all the chances he’d ever get. His time ran out.
What did Saul think in his final moments? What did he regret? What did he wish he had done differently?
We’ll never know.
“You don’t have forever to come to Me.”
We spend so much time focusing on God’s love. His forgiveness. His patience. His understanding.
As we should.
But we also need to dedicate a little time to talking about His justice.
God won’t let us live in sin forever. For our sake. For others’ sake. And ultimately what that means is that we have to make a choice.
Will we follow God or will we not?
Will we love God or will we not?
Will we believe in God or will we waffle, vacillate, wait to decide until time runs out?
I don’t want your time to run out. I don’t want my time to run out.
Today we have time. Let’s follow Him, love Him, believe in Him.
And then we can spend our time in the peace that passes all understanding.
What do you think? What do you think about Saul’s life and the choices he made?