False Professions

Do you ever get déjà vu? You know that feeling like the thing you are experiencing has already happened before. Maybe in a dream or something. When you read 1 Samuel 26 - it feels like déjà vu. The circumstances of 1 Samuel 26 play out almost exactly like the circumstances of 1 Samuel 24 - which I preached from on Sunday Night.

  • David is on the run from Saul.
  • The people from the region of Ziph betray David’s position to Saul.
  • Saul summons an army of 3,000 of his best people to go find David and kill him.
  • David finds Saul in a vulnerable situation.
  • David refuses to kill Saul and instead takes something as proof he could have killed him.
  • David confronts Saul and his men with this fact.
  • Saul makes a big public show of repentance.

All of those details match up between chapter 24 and chapter 26.

It’s not exactly the story though.

  • In chapter 24, David was hiding in the wilderness of Engedi - that’s not the case here.
  • In chapter 24, David finds Saul in a cave going to the bathroom. In chapter 26 David sneaks into the camp where Saul and his men are all sleeping.
  • In chapter 24, David takes a piece of Saul’s robe. In chapter 26, David takes Saul’s spear and water bottle.
  • In chapter 24, the only characters identified by name are David and Saul, but in chapter 26 we see new characters like Abishai and Abner.

So they aren’t the same story, but they are basically the same story.

I want us to read verses 21-25 this morning as our text:

[1Sa 26:21-24 KJV] 21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. 22 And David answered and said, Behold the king's spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it. 23 The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into [my] hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed. 24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.

Because this is basically the same story I preached from a few days ago, I don’t want to preach basically the same sermon. I want to approach this differently and the way I want to do that is to focus our attention on Saul’s words.

Here Saul makes some very clear statements, in front of all of his men and in front of David. He says:

  • I have sinned.
  • I have played the fool.
  • I have erred exceedingly.

Then he says ”Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things and also shalt still prevail.”

This is almost identical to what Saul said at the end of chapter 24. In chapter 24 it says that Saul lifted up his voice and wept and said to David:

Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.


then I know well that thou shalt surely be king

Saul made a big public show of being wrong and repenting in chapter 24 - so the question is, why did he have to do it again in chapter 26?

And, spoiler alert, Saul didn’t mean it here either. Saul went right back to hunting David. Over and over again when Saul has been confronted on this he’s said “you know, you are right, I’m wrong to be hunting David like this” and then Saul goes right back to it.

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

So what I want to talk about today is the problem of false professions. The problem of people making a big deal of repenting in public, of saying they are going to change, only to go right back to living like they lived before.

This is a big problem. Listen, if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “Pastor, I mean it this time, I’m really going to start coming to church and make it a priority.” I’d have at least enough to buy my family a good meal at Denny’s today.

Talk is cheap. Talk is easy. It’s really easy to say things, it’s really hard to follow up on it.

Now, with that in mind, I want you to take your Bibles with me and turn to the book of Ecclesiastes. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. Go to chapter 5.

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books in the Bible and I’ve been going through it again in my morning devotions. Ecclesiastes is a treatise on life and what it means to live. It was written by Solomon, who was one of the wisest men who ever lived, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived and one of the most powerful men that ever lived. It’s an intellectual book - maybe the most intellectual book in the whole Bible - it is all about the tough questions of life.

In the first part of chapter 5, Solomon deals with one thing that has been bothering him and that is people who are religious, but their religion is all talk. There is no there there. They are like Saul in our story - they make a big show of their religious promises, but they don’t back it up.

Lets read Ecclesiastes 5:1-7:

1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter [any] thing before God: for God [is] in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice [is known] by multitude of words. 4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for [he hath] no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5 Better [is it] that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it [was] an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words [there are] also [divers] vanities: but fear thou God.

Solomon says at the beginning here “keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God” - that means “watch your step” or “be careful.” Why should you be careful when you go to church? I mean, what is the danger there?

Solomon says the danger is to not listen enough and to “give the sacrifice of fools.” Then Solomon explains that the “sacrifice of fools” is making religious promises, making religious statements, but not backing them up. God’s not impressed by that.

As the old saying goes - “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

I’m going to say something that might shock you a bit: I wish there were less religious people. Don’t get me wrong, I want there to be more saved people. I want there to be more people living as disciples of Jesus. But there are too many religious people.

There are too many people who go to church out of cultural obligation. There are too many people who like the association. Maybe they like the church experience - so long as they can keep the church experience where they want it. They like to own religion, but they have no desire for religion to own them.

Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 3:5

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

The atheist looks at the world and thinks “Wow, all these religious people. Where do they all come from? They are all a bunch of fools. How can so many people take these fairy tales so seriously?”

When we were on vacation a few weeks ago we opened up the Gideon Bible in the hotel room and someone had taken Genesis 1:1 and crossed off “in the beginning” and wrote in “once upon a time.” That’s how the secularist sees religion and religious people.

But I submit to you, the problem with religious people isn’t that they take religion too seriously, it’s that they don’t take it seriously enough.

Look at verse 1 here again:

Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools:

Notice that phrase “be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools.” We need people who hear the gospel, who consider the gospel, who let the gospel take seed in their heart. Not people who make rash emotional decisions and public displays but then who flake out right away or who never really mean it or live it.

Think about Saul’s professions again. He said all the right things. He said “I have sinned.” He said “You are God’s plan David.” It seems like Saul had a genuine turn of heart, a genuine repentance there. I mean, he admitted his sin and he accepted the messiah. (Remember, Messiah means “anointed one” we aren’t saying David was Jesus).

But then he goes right back to it. He goes right back to hunting David. The next time we see Saul he’s going to be visiting a witch. Was Saul genuinely converted? I don’t think he was.

This reminds me of Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus said:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Listen, let me be very clear here - you are not saved by works. You don’t get saved by walking away from your sin and trying to live a righteous life. You get saved by believing the gospel and trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross.

But - the Bible is clear - I mean from beginning to end that when you get saved and put your faith in Christ it should change you. It should result in a change of attitude about sin. It should result in a new heart. In a new relationship with God.

We reject salvation by works, but we believe in a salvation that works.

My message this morning is super simple. I just want you to ask yourself one question: Is it real to you?

Have you truly accepted Christ and are you truly living for Christ or have you made the sacrifice of fools?

Why did Saul make this public show of repenting two times?

Maybe it was Saul just getting caught up in the moment, it was sincere, but only in a shallow way?

Is your faith shallow? Maybe you got touched at a revival service or something somewhere, but it never really went past skin deep.

Matthew 13:20 says:

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Is that you? Think about it?

Another possibility is that Saul was just socking to peer pressure. He was repenting because he was surrounded by a crowd of people who believed David and he wanted to go with the flow.

Ask yourself, is your faith based on peer pressure? Did you accept Christ just because everyone else was. Maybe you were in a meeting somewhere and everyone was on fire for God and you didn’t want to seem like a callous jerk, so you went along with it.

When I was a boy - about Noah’s age - I went to a vacation Bible school and I remember that they played some kind of Jesus play. It was really impressive to my 7 year old self, but I was way more into the watermelon I knew I was going to get before they put me back on the bus and sent me home.

But at the end of that meeting the preacher made a big deal about getting saved and he had us all bow our heads and close our eyes. So I bowed my little head but I looked around and all of my little friends had their hands up, so I stuck my hand up. I didn’t know what was going on.

And they took us all into a room downstairs and said “pray this prayer after me” so I did what all my friends did, I prayed the prayer. And the man patted me on my little head and said “You just got saved.”

I wasn’t saved! My mind was on the watermelon. I was just going along with peer pressure. Was your salvation like that? Just you going along with the flow, but it never really took?

Matthew 13:23 says:

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Here is my challenge for you and I’ll be done - examine your heart. Have you ever truly accepted Christ, have you truly made a decision to live for Him? If you have - awesome - don’t be like Saul. Don’t flake out.

But maybe you realized this morning that you never did. Maybe it was just a surface thing. Peer pressure. You certainly didn’t understand it and it certainly hasn’t brought forth fruit in your life. I want to challenge you to consider another profession, but don’t rush into it. Don’t do it because of emotions. Make sure you understand what you are doing. Put your faith in Christ, make it real.

Let’s stand together and close in prayer.