The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall

“Then Saul immediately fell the fullness of his great height to the ground and feared exceedingly from Samuel's words; also there was no strength in him because he had not eaten food all day and all night” (1 Sam 28:20; translation my own).

I'm a firm believer in the need for identifying our strengths and investing in them to make them even stronger. But I hold to this philosophy with one essential caveat: we must never remove God from this equation, lest our greatest strengths become our biggest weaknesses, the very attributes that lead to our downfall. And King Saul is case in point.

The very first time we are introduced to Saul in 1 Samuel, we meet a man who “from the shoulders up was taller than any of the people” (1 Sam 9:2). With this description, however, the author is obviously baiting us into a trap of believing that Saul's extraordinary height is what best qualifies him to be the king who will lead Israel's forces into victory on the battlefield. By erroneously embracing this assumption, we make the same mistake as the prophet Samuel who, when looking for the next king of Israel, became so preoccupied with the outward appearances of the job applicants that he failed to consider the most important asset: a personal relationship with God (1 Sam 16:7).

In the very next story, however, when a young man called David defeats a giant we are reminded of the dangers of putting all hopes in our physical, natural, and even our spiritual abilities. The bigger we are the harder we will fall (1 Sam 17:4; see 1 Sam 2:3).

Height Doesn't Matter

The description of Saul's physical reaction to Samuel's prophecy is filled with spiritual significance. It is the author's way of rebuking every reader who thought Saul's height was what best qualified him to be the king of Israel. Because of his disobedience and pride, the Lord had long since removed his hand of blessing from Saul (1 Sam 16:14; 28:15-16).

This man who was taller than everyone else in Israel comes crashing down with his entire height to the floor.

My heart truly aches when I think of several gifted people in the church who, despite their incredible achievements, have fallen from grace because they relied on their gifts rather than the Giver. Let us NOT put our trust in our own gifts or in the gifts of others: The single greatest attribute on our CV is not our degrees or our accomplishments. Rather, it is our personal love for the Lord and a realization that without him in our lives we are truly nothing!

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Show the world you are One for Israel!

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