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1 Samuel 28:8, So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.”

What do we do when we don’t get an answer from someone immediately after we ask a question? Some just give up. Some go elsewhere. In this case we find Saul looking for a type of person he expressly expelled from Israel – a spiritist. Deuteronomy 18:1-12 outlaws any such activity. Saul knew the truth of God’s word. But like he did too many times in his life, he sought to get what he wanted, when he thought God was not looking. Early on in his political life he did God’s will. Now as God’s priority shrinks and Saul’s flesh increases in importance, he was looking for what he once considered wrong.

We can easily find ourselves doing the same. We feel convicted to get rid of something in our lives, and then we find our way back to it when our regard for God falls and our own self-interest grows so we crawl back to what we once walked away from. “Backsliding” is not a new dance move; it’s what we are all guilty of from time to time. I wish we only had forward movement as people of God, but sometimes our footprints in the sand often look a lot more like figure eights.

I hope Saul’s life had a happy ending, but I think a fair reading of scripture tells us his life was at least troubled, not that I am a judge of anyone. Samuel told Saul that he and his sons would be with Samuel. (v. 19) Did he mean spiritually? Did he mean that they would be together in captivity? Did he mean that they would simply die? All but one of these is not too appealing to Saul. I hope Saul got his soul where it needed to be with God. Without knowing the answer to that question, I can say that a fair warning of a future event is more than many people get. Sometimes the most merciful thing that can be done between God and man is a fair warning. Realizing our need for mercy might prompt us to be more emphatic about asking for it. I hope we seek to live what is a right life. I hope we all repent with whole hearts, of the sins which separate us from God, confessing Jesus daily while we acknowledge our sinful unworthiness, and, if necessary, are baptized to begin a new relationship with God. All of these could be summed up in one phrase – “begging for mercy.” If it is mercy we seek, I recommend not being “too cool for school.” Beg for it, realizing who we are and how badly we have wronged our most holy and righteous Father. God loves us. Do we seek mercy and love, or do we take it for granted? Maybe we need to do some old fashioned begging!