Tag Archives: 1 Samuel 31

Legacy

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 
1 Samuel 31:4 (NIV)

I don’t come from a large family. My mom was an only child, and my dad had just one brother. So, I grew up with just one aunt and uncle, and only three first cousins. A week ago today, my dad got a call saying that his brother had taken a turn for the worst. I drove the folks up to northwest Iowa on Saturday so Dad could see his brother. The local hospice took over my uncle’s care earlier this week. It won’t be long.

After returning home on Saturday, Wendy and I attended a dinner for a locally centered missions organization that was rooted in one man’s love for the people of Haiti. It happens that Wendy actually worked for this man for many years, and he had a profound impact on her life in her young adult years. He died just this past year. His son has grown the mission organization his father inspired and at the dinner, he paid his father a wonderful tribute. Wendy shed more than a few tears.

Today’s chapter tells the end of Saul’s tragic story. Falling on his own sword in an act of suicide is an ironic and sad end to a life marked by self-destructive choices and behavior.

Not surprisingly, I have death on my mind this morning.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the reality that everything I possess gets left behind when this life journey is over. That’s not the only thing I leave behind, however. My possessions are meaningless in the grand scheme. What isn’t meaningless is the legacy I leave behind with those who my earthly life touched.

What will my legacy be?

In the quiet this morning, that is the question I’m pondering. Along this life journey, have I planted seeds of faith, hope, and love that will continue to bear fruit once I am gone? As I ponder the lives and legacies of Uncle Bud and Denny and Saul, It strikes me that legacy is never about just one day or one life event. Legacy is the culmination of daily motives, words, actions, relationships, and choices across some 30,000 or more days I may, or may not, be granted on this earth.

Some day it will be my life that others will remember, or not.

Every day counts. Tomorrow is never assured.

May I make the most of this day in ways that matter.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Footnote

israel02 033They put [Saul’s] armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. 1 Samuel 31:10 (NIV)

The ruined walls of the old city of Beth Shan sit high on a bluff overlooking the ruins of the more modern Roman city that emerged there. I had a chance to visit the ruins of Beth Shan while on a trip to Israel ten years ago. In the picture above you can see the Roman city ruins immediately behind me, the old ruins atop the bluff behind me, and the Sea of Galilee in the distance behind. On the very full itinerary of our trip there were many sites that would make most people’s top 10 list of places to see in the Holy Land. Beth Shan was not one of them. It is an asterisk on the list. It appeared in my travels that few people visit, and fewer still are likely know the reason of its’ footnote in history.

We have spent much of the past 31 chapters learning Saul’s story. It started out so promising. The first king of Israel. The tall, good looking warrior of whom the women sang of his victories. The end of the story, however, ends in stark contrast. Saul the troubled soul, the crazymaker with an unhealthy fixation on hunting down David, takes his own life in humiliating defeat. His body is decapitated an nailed to the walls of a backwater Philistine town most people today whiz by on their way between the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem without giving it or Saul a passing thought.

Today I’m contemplating Saul and am reminded of the adage: “it is not how you start but how you finish.” Will my love and impact on others’ lives become an important theme in the journal of their own  respective life journies, or will our death simply become a forgotten footnote at the bottom of a page? Saul’s death stands as a sad reminder of the tragic ends of a self-centered and envious existence.