The bigger they are...
King Saul was tall and handsome, literally head and shoulders above the rest. I envision him with movie star good looks. But, when he entered the pages of Scripture, he seemed humble, happy, and carefree. He ventured far out of his way to find his father's lost donkeys. The fact that he traveled with a servant tells me that his family was well-established.
But, Saul didn’t have that sense of entitlement which often envelops the offspring of successful men. At least it didn’t appear that way, considering his reluctant acceptance of the kingly title. When he fully embraced the role, though, he became a great warrior. God had filled Saul with His Spirit, and his stature became even greater. The people loved their new king. But, then Saul started believing the hype, as most humans do.
I’ve always believed that the human spirit was not designed to receive worship. It’s addictive. It’s deceptive. It’s transformative, but not in a good way.
Think of your favorite musical artist. Do you remember what he was like the first time you saw him in an interview? What was she like the first time you saw her perform? Several of my own favorites come to mind, and I remember them being humble, modest, courteous, and very approachable. After just a few years, millions of record sales, and worldwide tours, most of them change tremendously.
They transform into someone resembling that bright-eyed girl or boy whose brand new music moved me across the floor or moved me to tears. But, after years of receiving the hands-raised praise of millions from the concert stage, they get weighed down with a few too many layers of worship. They become smothered by it. It oozes from their very pores.
To protect their spirits, many become guarded. Some become rebellious. Others become self-destructive. It’s no longer safe for them to remain in their original skin. So, their garments become like costumes, and their faces become like masks. They become “larger than life.”
Praise feels good at first. It fills the empty spaces that we all have in our spirits. But, it’s not the nourishment that our spirits need. It’s more like junk food, from which we can become bloated if we’re not careful.
That’s what I saw when reading about Saul’s fall from grace today. Yes, he was a great warrior king, but his ego became bloated, as evidenced by the monument he built for himself. Then, instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive and perform his official duties, Saul took it upon himself to perform the animal sacrifice to the Lord. He was on his way to becoming a one-man show who could play all the parts on all the instruments, and receive all the glory.
Being on the receiving end of a heap of praise makes us waver in our convictions. We become insecure and unsure of ourselves. We lose who we really are because we become dependent upon the acceptance and adulation of others. In Saul's case, he not only lost himself, but he also lost the Spirit of God. This left the window to his soul wide open and vulnerable to the depression that rushed in to take His place. This, too, sounds very familiar.
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