1 Samuel 24:16-21

Sermon preached on September 21, 2009 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

About 18 months ago I decided to upgrade the hard drive in my computer. I looked up the directions online and it seemed like a pretty straightforward procedure. But when I went to do it I ran into a problem. There was a very small connector that held four little wires to a thermal sensor on the hard drive bracket. The directions said to disconnect the wires by pushing on the connector, which would release the wires. I had a bad feeling about it was so small. But since the directions said to do it I put some pressure on it trying to release it. Rather than releasing, the little plastic piece holding the wires disintegrated and the wires popped out. I got this sick feeling that I had just broken my computer. That part on my computer was not meant to be disconnected. The only thing I can think of is that they must have changed the connector in a minor revision of the computer and they put a good connector on it that you could disconnect, and that the directions that I had reflected that change.

Anyway, I after I got the hard drive switched, I put the wires back in as best I could, I tried the computer but it wouldn't turn on. So I opened it up again and spent quite a bit of time very carefully trying to put the wires back where there were but the problem was there was nothing to hold them in place but after much effort I got the four individual wires jammed in where I thought they were supposed to be. I booted up the computer and it worked fine—for about two months. Then it failed. So I took it apart and did the same thing with the wires again. Then it worked for about six weeks and it stopped worked. Every time I fixed it, it worked for a shorter period of time.

I really hadn't fixed the computer the right way. My repairs were makeshift, they were not permanent and long lasting. They were temporary and inadequate. It was only a matter of time before the computer failed completely.

We have something like that in our text. When David confronted Saul about his evil behavior toward him—Saul fixed his behavior. He wept, he acknowledged his sinful behavior and left off his pursuit of David. But it didn't last. The beginning of chapter 26 tells us that Saul resumed his hunt for David. Saul's change was inadequate. It didn't go far enough. It didn't stop him for perishing.

Saul's example is very beneficial for us. We've all sinned. Our sin can destroy us just like Saul's sin destroyed him. After we sin we need to make sure that we deal with our sin correctly, not inadequately like Saul did. So let's look at what our text shows us.

The first thing we should note is that

Saul was sorry for his sin.

Sorrow for sin is good. It's appropriate. The world today doesn't believe this.

Don't fall into the pattern of the world today. The world today doesn't want you to feel guilty or sorrowful about what you do. They'll tell you that that's unhealthy. They will tell you that the worst thing you can do is have guilt about what you do.

Of course they deny that many things are sin. They will tell you that freedom is what's important and that people basically have a right to do what they want to do.

The world looks on sin lightly. A few weeks ago I was reading an article about the police force in London, Ontario was encouraging people to lie to their bosses rather than break traffic laws on their way to work. I quote,

"Rather than drive aggressively to be on time and endanger other road users in the process, lie," said O'Brien, tongue firmly in cheek."

Along with that advice, O'Brien offered a few suggestions.

"Go to the junk yard, get an old "flat" tire, throw it in the trunk or back seat and before entering the office, rub your hands all over it to offer evidence of your struggle to change a tire.- Buy a realistic arm cast, keep it in the glove box, slip it on — presto instant hospital visit.""We just want to encourage everyone to adjust their departure time so you can arrive safe and on time," said O'Brien."Sure, police don't normally encourage anyone to lie, but if it leads to safer roads, then get making that list of excuses."

It's all tongue in cheek, but it shows how a certain form of lying is becoming a part of our society.

H. was telling me a story recently about one of her friends who got pulled over by the police. He wasn't wearing a seat belt and quickly put it on and when the policeman asked him if he knew why he pulled him over he said emphatically,

"I have no idea!"

The world today minimizes sin. It denies that many things are sin. If you use the Bible to point out their sin, some of people will get angry with you. We're not supposed to call premarital sex sin. Rather they call it an act of love. We're not supposed to call adultery sin, rather it's often an act of finding your soul mate. We're not supposed to call greed sin, because it's the American way.

Some people will get angry with you when you point out their sins. It was that way with Cain. In Genesis 4:5 we read that after God did not look with favor on Cain's offering,

"Cain was very angry,
and his face was downcast."

He wasn't angry his himself, with his failings—he was angry with God. God had to rebuke him and tell him to do what was right and he would be accepted.

Some people, when they do wrong, when they make a mistake, when they are rebuked for a fault, they don't get sorrowful about their sins—they get angry at others, or at God. Such should not be. Don't let that happen to you. If you're going to get angry, let the primary focus of your anger be on your sins and let that anger motivate you to turn from those sins.

The Bible tells us that we are to mourn over our sins. In James 4:8–10 we read,

"Wash your hands, you sinners,
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Grieve, mourn and wail.
Change your laughter to mourning
and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up."

In Matthew 5:4 Jesus said,

"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted."

Now of course Jesus didn't mean that we're to be mourning all the time or that we Christians are to be morbid and downcast all the time. No. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) The gospel is good news of great joy. (Luke 2:10) In John 15:11 Jesus said to His disciples,

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete."

We are to be a joyful people. We have a happiness that can never be taken away from us. As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:8–9,

"Though you have not seen him,
you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled
with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the goal of your faith,
the salvation of your souls."

Yet having said that, we are to mourn over our sin and our sinfulness. Laughter, mirth or indifference in the face of sin is inappropriate. As Jesus said in Luke 6:25,

"Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep."

There are two ways that you are to mourn for your sins—1) for your actual sins and 2) for your sinfulness.

First, consider your sinfulness.

As a Christian you should have a great desire to be delivered from your sinfulness.

We are to mourn because of our sins, our sinfulness and have a great desire to be delivered from it. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:1f,

"Now we know that if the earthly tent
we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God,
an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed
with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed,
we will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened,
because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed
with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal
may be swallowed up by life."

If you're a Christian, you should be a certain amount of mourning in your life about your sinfulness. In Romans 8 we are told (verses 19f) that the whole creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. Verse 23 tells us that,

"but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly
for our adoption as sons,
the redemption of our bodies."

So in a very real sense we are to be longing for our perfection, the day when Jesus Christ will come and make us perfect—where sin and sinful tendencies will be a thing of the past.

So I ask you—do you as a Christian mourn over your sinfulness like you should? Are you longing for the day when you will be free of your body of sin, when you will be free of this evil age? Are you frustrated with your sinfulness? Do you say with the apostle Paul, (Romans 7:21–25)

"When I want to do good,
evil is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God's law;
but I see another law at work
in the members of my body,
waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin
at work within my members.
What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God—
through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind
am a slave to God's law,
but in the sinful nature
a slave to the law of sin."

Do you grieve over that like you should? If you don't, I ask you, What's wrong with you? Are you that unspiritual? Are you that comfortable with your sinfulness?

Mourn over your sinfulness. You're a long way from what you should be. Long for the day of Jesus Christ when you will be free from it.

But not only should you mourn about your sinfulness,

you should mourn over your particular sins.

King Saul mourned over a series of sins against David. When David contrasted his righteousness and integrity with Saul's sinfulness and hated—Saul wept aloud in front everyone.

This was quite appropriate. Saul behaved terribly toward David.

We see this in Peter as well. After he denied Jesus he went out and, (Matthew 26:75)

"wept bitterly".

He was greatly grieved because of his sin. That's how we all should be about our sin.

But how sorrowful should you be about your sins?

This is a difficult question because it's complicated. I'm tempted to say that you should be sorrowful enough so that you turn from your sins. But the problem is that some people are so sorrowful for their sins that they go into despair. So it's not all about degrees of sorrow.

Nevertheless, our sorrow for sin needs to be real and deep. That is what is required. In Psalm 51:17 David wrote,

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God,
you will not despise."

We are to be broken-hearted over our sins. We are to have deep and real sorrow over them.

But the important thing to understand is that

sorrow for sin is not enough to keep you from perishing.

Saul was sorry for his sin against David but that didn't stop him from perishing. We see the same thing in Judas who betrayed Jesus. Matthew 27:3–4 tells us that when Jesus saw that Jesus was condemned,

"he was seized with remorse
and returned the thirty silver coins
to the chief priests and the elders.
'I have sinned,' he said,
'for I have betrayed innocent blood.'"

He was filled with remorse, but he, too, perished. His sorrow didn't save him.

Sorrow for sin is not enough. What's needed in regard to sin is repentance. Sorrow for sin does not equal repentance. Sorrow for sin is part of repentance, but not the whole of it. We see this in 2 Corinthians 7:9 where the apostle Paul wrote,

"yet now I am happy,
not because you were made sorry,
but because your sorrow
led you to repentance."

He continued in verse 10.

"Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation
and leaves no regret,"

What is need as far as sin goes is sorrow and hatred of sin, plus a turning away from our sin and turning to God.

Saul didn't do that. He seemed to turn away from his sin. He left off chasing David. But that was only temporary. He was soon back at it. (See chapter 26) He didn't turn to God. He trusted in himself, his own strength. He was doomed because of it. Saul's efforts at personal reformation were like some in Jesus' day. Jesus said about them, (Matthew 12:43–45)

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man,
it goes through arid places seeking rest
and does not find it.
Then it says,
'I will return to the house I left.'
When it arrives,
it finds the house unoccupied,
swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it
seven other spirits more wicked than itself,
and they go in and live there.
And the final condition of that man
is worse than the first.
That is how it will be
with this wicked generation."

Our efforts are woefully inadequate.

What we really need is the power of the Holy Spirit.

Only God can give true repentance. We see this from Acts 11:18 where we read,

"So then, God has granted
even the Gentiles repentance unto life."

In 2 Timothy 2:25 Paul told Timothy about a faithful minister.

"Those who oppose him he must gently instruct,
in the hope that God will grant them repentance
leading them to a knowledge of the truth,"

If you're going to be saved from your sins you need to turn to God. That's what was lacking in King Saul. I think he was truly sorry for his sin. I think he tried with all the strength that he had to turn from it. But the problem was that King Saul was a slave to sin. He was soon back trying to kill David. Sin enslaves. (Romans 6) It binds. It's habits are too powerful for us to break on our own.

What you need is for God to change your heart, take our your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. As God said to His people Israel in Ezekiel 36:25–29,

"I will sprinkle clean water on you,
and you will be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your impurities
and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart
and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you
and move you to follow my decrees
and be careful to keep my laws.
You will live in the land
I gave your forefathers;
you will be my people,
and I will be your God.
I will save you from all your uncleanness."

That's what we all need. What you need is to feel sorrowful regarding your sin, but to go beyond that and ask God to give you repentance and forgiveness. That can only come through Jesus Christ. Go to Him today.