King Saul is a great example of how not to do life. He started good, humble, and obedient. His father sends him out to look for some missing donkeys and he goes and searches for days. Even after days when he is tempted to give up, he goes to a prophet of God for answers about where the donkeys might be. Of course, this prophet was Samuel who announces to him that he will be a king to the people and tells him that he has been chosen by God to lead.
But later in the story, we see that this new position has gone to Saul’s head. He enjoys his power and tries to add to it by acting as a priest. He offers sacrifices on behalf of the people, a job God had given to the priests, and Saul is rejected because of it. God tells him to destroy a people thoroughly, but Saul keeps back the best of the livestock and treasures “to sacrifice to the Lord” (1 Samuel 15.21). Samuel announces to Saul that God has rejected him as king and has chosen another “after His own heart.”
This leads Saul to jealousy. Saul becomes embittered towards God and God’s newly annointed man. He not only tries to kill David himself, but hunts David for over a decade. Saul activates God’s entire army against David until David has to leave the country.
Never in the story do we see Saul’s soul redeemed. He never wakes up from this digression. He never turns his life around. He is a king who starts well and ends broken. And this is a digression we can find ourselves on also in our Christian walk.
The digression happens slowly. We start our walk with God with humility and purpose. We love to obey, even in the hardest moments. We find joy in pleasing God and serving Him. We work hard to earn His pleasure, even though we know that He loves us, forgives us, and accepts us as His children as we are.
But somewhere along the way, we face disappointment. We become displeased with the way life has worked out. We don’t like something God has done (or not done) in our lives. We grow disappointed in our own failures. We start to lose the joy of obedience and start to focus on the difficulty of obedience.
This disappointment digresses into discouragement. This word is a powerful image of having our courage leak out of us. While focusing on our moments of disappointment, we stop wanting to obey, stop wanting to please God, stop wanting to fulfill His purpose. We no longer feel emboldened by His Word, but frustrated by His expectations.
Ultimately, our discouragement transforms into depression. What were moments of negative thought have turned into an entire lifestyle. We think of anger, irritation, and then we give up.
This digression is real. In the Christian life, the devil can interfere by planting seeds of thoughts that we can let grow until we are turned away from the God who redeems us. Let’s stop our disappointments before they digress into discouragement and depression. Let’s get back to thinking how God wants us to think.
(I’ll share with you the solution in next week’s article.)