Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Edvard Munch, Tragedy (1898-1900)
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;
— 1 Chronicles 10:13
Following the long genealogy in chapters 1-9, the first book of Chronicles picks up the story of Israel from the point of Saul's death, and then covers the reign of David, so naturally there'll be some repetition in these reflections too, as I follow the order of the books, rather than the chronological order.1
The episode where Saul goes to visit the medium to conjure the spirit of Samuel, rather than seeking God directly is considered here a prime reason for Saul's death. It was the ultimate expression of his lack of faith. Saul's story is a tragic one. Thrust into this leadership position, that he didn't ask for and didn't want, Saul is ill-equipped to handle the pressure of kingship, and lets the power go to his head, forgetting what his bigger purpose is. And as he heads down the wrong path, the further he goes the harder it becomes to return. This is true for us too, today, perhaps most notably in the world of business, but we see it play out in our personal lives too. The phenomenon is known as the 'sunk cost' fallacy.2
It is easy to fall into doing the wrong thing, being pulled by power, profit, lust, self-interest, all the short-term gains dangled like carrots in our faces. Much harder to stay tuned to our greater purpose, that of loving one another and serving God, the greater good.3 Saul fell on his sword, and we fall into anxiety, depression, shame and guilt. It's all avoidable though, it just requires turning around, walking in the other direction. Easy to say, and yet the forces of temptation that prevent this turning are great, so much so that we easily forget, like Saul, that it is even an option. This is the tragedy of inevitability.
1 Saul's death was covered in reflections 102: Rejection and 103: Fallen
2 The Sunk Cost Fallacy Explained
3 Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.