Thursday, March 19, 2009

Saul and the Natural Man

I’ve finished the account of Saul in the Old Testament. What a sad, sad story. Saul was a man who was chosen by the Lord, through Samuel the prophet, because of his righteousness. Yet, he made choices that separated him from God. In a previous post, I mentioned that Saul relied upon himself instead of the Lord and that was the beginning of the end for him.

I believe Saul’s life is an example of a man who could never quite part from his natural man. We learn from the scriptures that the natural man is an enemy to God. “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever . . .” (Mosiah 3:19). Saul had the potential to be a great leader and faithful servant of the Lord. Unfortunately, he relied on himself and when God then instructed Samuel to anoint David as king of Israel, Saul lost all reason.

He became so jealous of David that he sought o take his life on a number of occasions. David had to flee from Saul and his armies numerous times. Saul’s jealousy of David and obsession with killing him, led Saul to make erroneous decisions as the Israelite king. He couldn’t concentrate on his job as king because he was so preoccupied with destroying his once beloved David.

One has to wonder if Saul might have suffered from schizophrenia as he vacillated between wanting to kill David and wanting to forgive and love him again. At times, Saul’s spirit was pricked, especially when he realized that David spared his life on more than one occasion. These momentary lapses into civility and reason shows us that, perhaps deep down, Saul wanted to overcome his natural tendencies, but in the end chose not to do so.

He allowed his natural man to grow in such stature that it effectively stamped out the life of his spirit. He gave in to jealousy and rage. He fanned the flame of hatred. He wallowed in his self-pity.

We can become like Saul if we are not careful. If we do not do all in our power to squelch our natural man, our life will be filled with the same natural tendencies as Saul’s. What is the key to overcoming our natural man? The answer can be found in the second-half of Mosiah 3:19, “ . . . yield[s] to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and putt[eth] off the natural man and become[th] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and become[th] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

If we heed this scripture and fill our lives with the Spirit by reading the scriptures, praying, and doing all in our power to keep the commandments we will not succumb to our natural man as Saul did. We will be able to withstand the temptations of the world and secure our place in eternity.

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