Just a little footnote here. Or headnote, perhaps, since this is at the top. 🙂
As you may have noticed, from time to time, I’ve been trying to chronologicalize passages in the Bible. So if a psalm fits in with a certain time period, I’ve put it in where it was appropriate. I believe I once put a passage from Judges in the Joshua section because it was referring to the same event.
Starting from this point, I’ll be doing a lot of that, mixing in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles because they are all referring to the same events, or they fit into that time period.
I may miss a few events in the chronology from time to time, so in those cases, I’ll get back to it later. And unlike some Bibles, I will not put in the prophets at their proper places in history. I’ll get to them after I finish the books of poetry in the Bible. (I may change my mind if enough people ask for it, but I make no promises).
Anyhows, end of “headnote.”
And so we come to the end of Saul’s story. And it is a gruesome end. He kills himself, rather than let his enemy kill him in battle. Then his head is cut off and displayed in the temple of one pagan god, his armor is hung in the temple of another pagan god, and his body is hung on the wall of one of the Philistine cities along with the bodies of his sons.
Why did this happen? The writer of Chronicles gives us the answer.
13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance,14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. (I Chronicles 10:13-14)
Saul was definitely not a good king. But there was one people that remembered some of the good he had done, the people of Jabesh Gilead. I never realized this until now, but these were the same people that Saul had rescued before he formally took his position as king of Israel (until then, he had been anointed by Samuel, but just hung around working on his farm).
But when he heard that the people of Jabesh Gilead were under attack, he rallied all of Israel and they rescued the city. The people of Jabesh Gilead never forgot that. And so when they heard about what had happened to Saul and his sons, they courageously went and took the bodies down, and properly buried them.
The people of Jabesh Gilead had to know that Saul was not a good king. They had to know about how he had unjustly chased after David, and even left Israel vulnerable at times in his obsession to kill David (I Samuel 23). They had to know too that he had unjustly killed the priests who had helped David.
And yet, they chose to reflect not on these things, but on the good that Saul had done. And so they put their lives at risk to take down his body and those of his sons, and gave them a proper burial.
And it kind of makes me think. How do I reflect on the people in my life? Do I remember the good about them or the bad?
Usually I reflect on the good, but there are times when I reflect on the bad. There remains a bitter root there, that I haven’t quite dug up yet. And it affects the way I see them in my mind, and it affects the way I treat them even now.
I suppose, the people of Jabesh Gilead had it a little easier with Saul. They knew of the evil he had done, but he hadn’t done anything to personally hurt them. But for me, there have been people who have hurt me, personally. And while I have to some degree forgiven them, there still remains that root that causes me to reflect on the bad in them.
But if I really think about it, there was good in them too. I can remember some good things that they did, for others, and even for me. And as I look at these passages, it makes me think, “These are the things I need to focus on. Not the bad. But the good.” That said, it’s not easy.
Now reflecting on the good does not mean that we completely forget the bad, nor does it mean that we should leave ourselves vulnerable to them hurting us again.
David was a perfect example of this. When he heard that Saul had died, he wept for him. He even wrote a song honoring him. But while Saul was alive, he would not put himself in a position where Saul could hurt him. David chose to reflect on the good in Saul. He chose to forgive the evil. But all the while, he kept himself safe. And that’s the kind of balance we need to strike as well.
Are there people who have hurt you? Your father? Your mother? Your coworkers? The people at church? How do you reflect on them? Do you think of them only in terms of the wrongs they have done to you? Or do you choose to focus more on the good?
It seems to me that that is how God sees us. When he looks at us, he could focus on the evil in us. But because of Jesus, and the blood he shed to cover our sin, he chooses to focus on the good instead.
May we show the same mercy to the people who have hurt us, as we think about and remember them.