By James Groce
2 Samuel 1:21
Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
Why did Saul become a statistic?
1. Because his life was marked by disobedience. (He saved Agag when he had been commanded to slay him.)
2. Because his life was marked by rebellion. (He offered sacrifices before Samuel had arrived.)
3. Because of his unbridled hatred. (He had a great hatred for David.)
4. Because of his murderous rage. (He murdered a company of priests at Nob.)
5. Because of his leanings toward apostasy. (He consulted the witch of Endor for spiritual direction.)
6. AND BECAUSE HE NEGLECTED TO ANOINT HIS SHIELD!
Saul’s last battle was fought after he had consulted the witch of Endor. His final hours were spent in misery because God had cut him off and the old prophet, Samuel, (his voice from God), was now dead. In his longing to talk with God, he consulted the witch of Endor in hopes that she could bring the old prophet back to him.
Saul’s seeking counsel from such a voice gives light as to his spiritual condition. When men lose their faith in God, then they start looking for any substitute voice they can find to convey to them some thought, some purpose, or some direction to in which to take their lives.
The spiritual direction of Saul’s life had now caused him to seek after the very thing that he could not have, in all of the wrong places!
When Samuel had been alive, his counsel was treated with contempt by Saul but when Samuel could no longer be entreated, the man who grieved him the most was the most anxious to do anything he could to get that voice back again.
A guilty conscience is one that fills the soul with phantoms that have tongues of evil. The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a soul. Conscience speaks in whispers; but if it is unheeded, its whispers echo quickly back from the close wall of the dark prison of the soul. Then those whispers become like the rolling of thunder. The conscience may be as small as the tiniest earthworm, but when it is contradicted and fought against, it becomes a great stinging serpent that will allow no rest, no peace, and no comfort.
Saul at the witch’s cave at Endor:
This is the cry of a soul consciously deserted by God.
This is the cry of a soul profoundly convinced of the value of a prophet’s voice. This is the cry of a soul who now only can hear the voice of delusions. This is the cry of a soul plunging into the depths of despair.
During Saul’s reign, he had fought twelve wars: One with the Ammonites.
Seven with the Philistines.
One with the Edomites.
One with the Moabites.
One with the Syrians.
One with the Amelekites
What was it that made his last battle so crucial? Eleven times earlier he had gone to battle and had returned mostly victorious. There had been some losses but the progress made in these wars overcame the losses. But all hope had abandoned Saul’s soul. When a man loses hope, he loses himself. A soul losing hope is like a mountain traveler descending some mountain side. The sun is setting behind him and at every step down, he moves further into the shadow. The shadow gets longer and it gets blacker until at last the traveler is shrouded in midnight darkness and with his path hidden, his way is lost and he tumbles over some rocky cliff.
THE ANATOMY OF A FAILURE: The thing that pulled the lifeblood from Saul is given to us. The clue is found within 2 Samuel 1:21. The Bible declares there that his shield had not been anointed with oil. No soldier treats his weapons with disrespect because it is through his own careful attention to detail that sustains him during the fight. That is what Saul failed to do in this most crucial hours leading up to this battle. The failure had occurred before the battle had ever been fought. It came through the haphazard neglect of his shield,
THE’ SHIELD: History bears out that the shield was of extreme importance. Ancient shields were made mostly of stout leather or of several layers of leather that were stretched over a frame or rim of wood. It was necessary to rub them with oil so that the leather would remain supple, which prevented it from hardening and cracking.
If a shield was allowed to become friable and weak, an arrow or a spear could easily pierce through the leather. This could heighten the liabilities against the soldier. The treatment of the shield with oil was particularly important immediately prior to the soldier entering into a battle.
What was the value of the shield to a soldier in battle? It is not strength in a calamity, BUT it is something that prevents a calamity from occurring. My strength lifts me when the blow falls BUT, my shield catches the blow before it falls. My strength supports what is, BUT–My shield wards off what might have been. I have often praised God for the strength, BUT, I have rarely thanked Him for the shield. I have often used my shield against temptation, rebellion, disobedience, and all sorts of other evils, THEREFORE, I must never forget to keep my shield anointed.
Rest assured that somewhere in our futures, there is a carefully laid trap for each one of us. That Trapper of our souls would love to trap and destroy us just as he did with Saul. We cannot afford to die on a spiritual battlefield because of an un-anointed shield.
The following was written by an old Puritan about the nature of self-deception: He who takes copper instead of gold wrongs himself; the most counterfeit saint deceives others while he lives, but deceives himself when he dies. To pretend to holiness when there is none is a vain thing. In what way were the foolish virgins better off for their blazing lamps when they wanted oil? What is the lamp of profession without the oil of saving grace? What comfort will a show of holiness yield at last? Or painted holiness be a cordial at the hour of death? A pretense of sanctification is not to be rested in. Many ships have been cast away upon the rocks; so, many who have had the name, “saints,” have been cast into hell.
There has to be a fresh anointing every time that we go into battle. We cannot wait until we are in the fight to decide then that we need a fresh anointing; it must come prior to the battle. We cannot live on an anointing of the past.
John 12:21 Sir, we would see Jesus.
From “Apostolic Standard” / Page 9-10, By James Groce