[1 Samuel 15: 22 -23]
“Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 13th session of Hell sermon series.
We can easily find people these days who have serious diseases.
In case of cancer, the statistics says there are almost 500,000 patients in Korea.
It means one out of one hundred Koreans is a cancer patient.
As the cancer goes to the later stage, the suffering of the patient becomes greater.
If it’s possible, they perform surgery to remove the cancer. They usually remove some parts of the organ that has the cancer.
If there is a reoccurrence or any other problem, they have to operate again. Some go through operations more than a dozen times.
This is not the end. They go through various anti-cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Many times these treatments are accompanied by complications. Patients suffer from nausea feeling like their intestines are coming out and pain that feels like their whole body is squeezed and twisted.
They become so thin their body is like a thin tree branch. The hairs on their heads fall off in a mass.
Those patients who cannot be treated any longer by medicine can only wait for their death receiving painkillers.
Not only cancer, but there are also many other terrible diseases.
In some serious cases of diabetes, the patients have complications all over their body.
Some of them lose their vision, others have their decaying legs amputated.
It’s not completely curable and it keeps going on, so the patients have to live in pain and nervousness throughout their lives
They cannot eat as they want, and they have to take medicines or get injections every day.
They visit the hospital as if they were going to their own house.
Then, the life of their family members also becomes mentally and financially exhausting.
In case of AIDS, a person’s immunity decreases and they easily become infected by germs and viruses.
Then their whole body becomes full of inflammations and tumors.
At a point they have no option but to wait for their death with their body looking like it’s been eaten by worms all over.
In the case of leprosy, if they get any cut or injury on any part of their body, like on their hands or feet, and if it festers, the whole hand or the foot may be lost.
Today, there are so many traffic accidents and industrial disasters. There are people who lose their arms or legs.
Some people are severely burned all over their body.
There are some who cannot even eat or sleep well because of the pains caused by these diseases and accidents.
They can get only broken sleep when they get painkillers that are just like narcotics.
If it gets worse, they say even those painkillers do not work.
For those who are suffering from the pain without any hope, even one second is such a long time.
Some of them lose the normal human form, not to mention their original appearance, and they think of suicide so many times a day.
But even these pains from diseases and injury cannot be compared with the pains received in Hell.
In this world, they can rest even just for a while, and when they die that particular pain will go away.
But in Hell, the pains will continue without any rest for all of eternity.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus healed many people of all kinds of illnesses.
He also took the great pains of the cross to set us free from the diseases and the pains of Hell.
And just if we properly believe in this Lord, we can live a life that is exempt from any pain of disease or the pain of Hell.
I pray in the name of the Lord that all of you will live a blessed life in the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in the last session, I explained about Pilate, among those who are receiving punishment of the third level.
As the retribution for handing over Jesus for scourging and crucifixion, he is also being scourged in the Lower Grave.
Merciless messengers of Hell are scourging him with terrible whips whenever his name is called.
Pilate cannot even appeal his pain.
It’s because his tongue, which gave the sentence of crucifixion to Jesus, was pulled out as a curse.
King Saul, the first king of Israel is also among those who are receiving the third level punishment.
He is hanging with his abdomen pierced through by a spear.
The spear is not only sharp but it also has many screw-like barbs on it.
It’s hard for a man just to be hanging in the air, and how much harder when he is pierced through by a spear?
Along with the pain of being pierced by a sharp spear, the body will sag under the weight of the body, and the wound will also be torn.
The abdomen that is pierced through by the spear will be torn by the barbs placed on the spear, and one can see the muscles, bones, and the intestines.
There is no way to pull out this spear.
Only the messengers of hell can move this spear, and from time to time some messengers wearing gruesome masks of animals will come and spin the spear.
Then, the spear and the sharp barbs on the spear will rip the inside the abdomen even more.
The messenger will enjoy seeing the person suffering from pain. So, it will spin the spear vigorously left and right and up and down.
As it spins the spear, all the organs, not just the abdomen, but the lungs, stomach, heart, and intestines are ruptured.
As the inside of abdomen is ripped off and torn to bits, the wound will soon recover.
Then, soon the messenger of hell will spin the spear again.
Brothers and sisters, why did Saul have to fall into the Lower Grave? Why does he have to receive this kind of miserable punishment?
What are you reminded of when you think of Saul?
Probably you will remember him chasing after David to kill him.
David was a man loved by God.
Also, he was anointed as the next king to replace Saul.
And from the fact that Saul tried to kill this David, we can understand he was very arrogant.
But as we go back in time a little more, we can see Saul was not so arrogant from the beginning.
When he went up to the throne, he was a humble person before God.
When God pointed out Saul to become the king of Israel, Samuel said to Saul as follows:
1 Samuel 9:20 says, “And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s household?”
And Saul answered very humbly in the following verse 21, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak to me in this way?”
When they cast lots to select the king from the public, Saul the son of Kish was taken, as God had said.
But Saul was nowhere to be seen.
So, when the people asked God for his whereabouts, God said he was ‘hiding himself by the baggage’.
The baggage was what people were carrying for their travel. Saul was such a shy person.
When Saul was chosen as the king, certain worthless men said, ‘How can this one deliver us?’ And they despised him and did not bring him any presents. But he kept silent having no hard feelings.
Soon after that, when Ammonites besieged Jabesh-gilead, Saul fought for Jabesh-gilead and his nation.
He defeated the Ammonites and saved the people by relying on God and with his love for the people.
God was with this Saul, and he gained victories again and again.
God considered this heart of Saul and anointed him as the king.
But this heart of Saul began to change.
He should have been more humble as he gained victory by God’s help, but he soon became arrogant.
For example, he himself offered a sacrifice, which was strictly a priest’s job. He disobeyed God and committed sins continuously.
In 1 Samuel chapter 15, you know very well he disobeyed God’s command to destroy all of Amalek.
God gave the command to destroy Amalek, and God told them to destroy every person, young or old, and even all the cattle.
This was in fact already decided at the time of the Exodus.
Exodus 17:14 says, “I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” God had already announced the punishment.
Namely, Amalek had stored up so many sins to the extent that they couldn’t be forgiven at all.
If Amalek had been left alone, Israel could have been influenced by their practices of idolatry.
That is why they had to be destroyed completely. But Saul did not obey the word of God.
He captured Agag the king of Amalek and came back triumphantly. He also brought back the good cattle.
So God said to Samuel that He regretted appointing Saul as the king.
It was never the will of God to appoint a king in Israel.
God wanted His people Israel only to rely on God.
But the people asked for a king who could protect and rule over the country.
Because of this request of the people God appointed Saul, who was the most qualified among the people at the time.
And when Saul did not obey God’s commands, God was heartbroken.
Because Samuel knew about this part of the heart of God well, he cried out to God all night.
Then Samuel spoke to Saul with some distress.
1 Samuel 15:17 says, “Samuel said, ‘Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel,”
Then he explained what Saul did wrong, and what the will of God was in detail.
1 Samuel 15:22-23 says, “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.'”
Now Saul seemed to repent. He admitted that he had sinned. But following words he spoke were of a different nature.
In the latter part of 1 Samuel 15:24 it says, “I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.”
Furthermore, he even made a request to Samuel.
1 Samuel 15:30 says, “Then he said, ‘I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.'”
Basically, what he meant was, “I admit my sin, but please honor me before the people as the king.”
Samuel was heartbroken whenever he saw Saul doing that kind of thing.
From this incident until his death, Samuel did not see Saul again.
After he had not listened to the advice of Samuel many times, Saul was finally forsaken.
Brothers and sisters, if somebody has a fault and if that fault is pointed out, how should the person react to it?
He has to admit his fault immediately. He must not try to hide it with excuses.
He has to turn back quickly and bear the fruit of repentance.
Only then can God forgive him and he can go the way of life.
Had Saul turned away from sins and repented when his fault was pointed out, his fate would have been different.
But Saul only gave excuses and blamed others.
He had to be humble before God, but he was blinded by the fame. He only wanted to be honored by the people.
He forgot the fact that he did not become the king by his great ability, but it was God who made him the king.
Saul became more and more blinded by pride as he tried to keep his fame and authority.
Now, he even began to stand against David who was anointed by God.
David killed Goliath the Philistine and acted wisely wherever he was sent. Saul acknowledged him and made him the head of the army.
But one day some women sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
From this moment Saul had discomfort in heart. He turned his attention to David thinking he was a threat to his throne.
But David did not have any desire for the throne. He was only faithful to the country and the people.
David saved the nation from great crises with his outstanding achievements.
David had the willingness to sacrifice his life for the nation and the people, as well as for King Saul.
As the king of the country, Saul should have been thankful for David.
But because of his greed and envy, he considered David his enemy and tried to kill him.
And only because they helped David, he killed 85 priests of God in Nob and almost destroyed the whole city.
This was the same as standing in direct opposition to God Himself.
To stand against a man of God is to stand against God.
God will never accept such a thing, and He will certainly hold that person accountable.
Now, why did God not destroy Saul immediately, although he was consistently disobeying and doing evil?
God was waiting because he knew David would become like pure gold through the trials he was going through by Saul’s persecutions.
At the same time, God was giving Saul chances to repent.
David had two chances to kill Saul while he was being chased, but he let him live both times.
When David showed his true heart towards Saul by saving him, Saul was touched in his heart.
He was moved by David’s true heart and even cried with a loud voice calling David, ‘my son’.
But it was only for that moment. He did not repent from heart, and he soon began to chase David to kill him.
Saul did not understand the heart of God who was enduring with him. He just followed his greed without turning from his sins.
He had to face a miserable end on the battle field. When they were about to lose, he took his sword and fell on it.
It was to avoid a miserable death at the hands of the Gentiles.
Saul just cared about keeping his pride and honor rather than following the will of God, even at the moment of his death.
This is the part that lets us understand why he is hanging in the air in the Lower Grave with his abdomen pierced through by a spear.
It was also because once David was playing the harp for him and Saul tried to pin David with a spear.
As retribution for this evil act, he is suffering the pain of his abdomen being ripped apart by the sharp spear.
As he is groaning and hanging in the air, he remembers his chances to repent.
He thinks, “Why did I disobey? Why did I stand against God?”
Of course, it is meaningless thought since he is already in Hell, but he cannot stop the deep sigh of remorse.
But when the pain gets greater, his remorse disappears immediately and he begins to complain with his evilness.
While he is doing that, he recovers from his wounds, and the messenger of hell approaches him to spin the spear.
As he first sees the messenger of hell coming towards him and looking at him Saul is captured by the terror again.
He already begins to be choked by the thoughts knowing the things that he will face.
It is of no use even if he pleads, “Please leave me alone, please stop it!”
Seeing this Saul who is totally terrified, the messenger of hell shows the smile of satisfaction and spins the spear.
As it turns the spear again and again, Saul has to suffer from the pain of his body being torn apart.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we always have to check whether or not we are lifting ourselves up before God.
The higher our position and the more we are recognized and loved, we have to remember the grace of the first love.
We were all sinners.
Without Jesus taking the cross, we would have suffered in Hell just like Saul.
And God saved us from that misery.
He gave us the grace, health and money and our duty so that we can be faithful workers of God.
And how can we say, “I did this, and this is mine!”?
Therefore, we always have to be humble before God and the brothers in faith.
We must not have any desire to be served.
We have to thoroughly cast away our lust, arrogance, and greed for fame, social power, and money by circumcising our heart.
If we have any acts of untruth, we have to repent immediately.
At first we might feel afflicted in heart, and there could be a punishment of God’s love.
But if we keep on committing sins, we won’t even have any pangs of conscience later.
We may even begin to slander and wrongfully accuse servants or workers of God who are loved by God. We could begin to create strife and division in the church.
King Saul is the model of such a person.
We should learn from his example and not go the same way ever.
Especially, let us realize how great a sin it is to stand against a man of God, so that we will not even speak or think anything against him.
Brothers and sisters, those who are really acknowledged by God will humble themselves more as they are acknowledged and loved more.
Also, those who ardently and truly love God have no time to love the world.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will always put yourself in the lowest place until God the Father leads you to the highest place, the city of New Jerusalem.