Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

God; direct & indirect causes; & the death of Saul, king of Israel

Posted by Chris on July 15, 2009

excerpts from 1 Chronicles 10

v2 The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons…

v3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was wounded by the archers.

v4… Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.

v13a So Saul died for his breach of faith… he did not keep the command of the Lord…

v13b-14 [And also Saul] consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord.

v14b Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David.

3 human events led to Saul’s death. A battle with the Philistines turned against and his foes began to defeat his army. Saul did not escape, being struck by an arrow. Lastly, as he was dying, he hastened his death by killing himself (rather than dying directly from the blow of his enemy).

Yet, the text tells us that Saul’s death was a sentence. Not the natural results of losing a battle, not random, not chance. And not a sentence from the direct agent of his death, but a sentence from the Lord. It was against the Lord that he had sinned, not keeping his commands & seeking guidance elsewhere.

[This was not the intention. Saul was the first human king of Israel. In a sense, he replaced God, who had been their king and Lord. At the very least, he was an steward of that throne. The Lord had ruled and guided the Israelites according to his Law, created for their good, and consulted his will, the only omniscient sovereign source of guidance.

Saul should’ve picked up where God left off. He had no sovereign, all-knowing will. He obviously was far short when it come to moral purity and upright character, attempting many times to murder his servant David. But he threw off the light burden of his Lord, accepted the heavy yoke of depending on himself, and brought the Israelites into corruption and servitude. This was the source of his guilt.]

How do we reconcile the last bold statement with the first 3? Archers shot him, he falls on his sword, God puts him to death? They can’t all be literally true. The Lord rules the earth through direct and indirect causes. This the case here.

Take this truth and hope in and fear it. He’s in control, but he also allowed it to happen (and we all have many it’s).

John Piper writes in his book Spectacular Sins,

By ordain I mean that God either caused something directly or permitted it for wise purposes. This permitting is a kind of indirect causing, since God knows all the factors involved and what effects they will have and he could prevent any outcome. So his permission is a kind of secondary causing, but not a direct causing.

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