10–16 September 2017.
In just a few short sentences at the end of 1 Samuel we read about the downfall of King Saul and his family. We followed Saul’s story, we watched him become king, and now it’s all over. Jonathan and his brothers are hunted down and killed. And Saul, broken and in despair, commits suicide. Even worse, the enemy troops then mutilate and shame the bodies of Saul and his sons. Is this how it all ends?
Maybe we don’t feel very sorry for Saul, after all he had caused so much strife not only in Israel but also in his own family. But for the good and faithful Jonathan to be killed this way too – it doesn’t seem fair!
But the Bible reminds us that death comes to everyone. In movies, only the bad guys die while the good live happily ever after. But real life isn’t like that. War and violence kill all types of people: the famous and the ordinary, the bad and the good. The sins of some stretch out to also destroy the lives of others.
Again, this doesn’t seem fair. Saul sinned, he allowed his life to be eaten up by hate and jealousy, so why should Jonathan have to pay the price? What did Jonathan do to deserve such a terrible death? It isn’t fair at all, but sadly that’s the way our world often is. The effects of sin spread out and affect others too. One person sins, but others pay the consequences. One generation sins and gives into the temptations of violence and war, and then their children pay the cost, dying in their parents’ war. One generation sins and destroys the world, leaving their children to live with pollution and rubbish. One generation sins, and in their greed they destroy the economy, leaving their children to live in debt and hopelessness. No matter how old we are, how many of our problems today have we inherited from the generation before us!
In Saul’s story we learn that when we sin we don’t only destroy our own lives, we also destroy the lives of those around us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The good news is that it’s not just our sins that influence others. When we follow God, when we work for justice and peace, and when we do what is right, those actions also spread out – as blessings to those around us. Through our righteous and loving actions, we can have a positive effect on others, and leave behind something wonderful for our children: a life full of blessings and love.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis