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Last night I wrote a post quoting Pastor John, but this morning I read something he wrote in his blog yesterday.  It points out another “both ways” passage of scripture in a helpful way, so I’m postponing my other post and putting this up. Pastor John writes:

1. Why did Saul die?

  • “Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.” (1 Chronicles 10:4)
  • “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium.” (1 Chronicles 10:13)
  • “The Lord put him to death.” (1 Chronicles 10:14)

One reason Saul died is that he committed suicide. Another is that he broke faith with the Lord much earlier. Another is that God put him to death. None of these excludes the others. To say God is the decisive actor does not mean Saul did not act. To say there are physical causes for a death (suicide) does not mean there were not moral causes (infidelity).

To say that Saul brought his demise on himself (by infidelity and suicide) does not mean God did not bring it on him. We would be unfaithful to Scripture if all we said was that the reason Saul died was the natural consequence of his own behavior. We must also say, “The Lord put him to death.”

There was real punishment, not just impersonal, natural consequences. God is personal. God put him to death. There was punishment by a judge and executioner. There was wrath. The Bible is designed to make sure we do not turn death and hell into impersonal consequences. “The Lord put him to death.” . . .

Note: Suicide is a sin.

Note: The passage does not say “The Lord allowed him to die”, nor does it say “The Lord worked it so that he would die. No, it says “The Lord put him to death”.

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July 2008