The Downward Spiral of Sin
1 Samuel 22
Sin is sneaky. Sin is deceitful. It rarely announces its arrival. It prefers to enter inconspicuously. All it desires is death and destruction. Because of sin’s cruel intentions, believers must be constantly vigilant to prevent the downward spiral of sin. This spiral can take many forms, and we do well to study each occurrence in Scripture.
In the case of King Saul, the spiral began when he listened to himself instead of God. His actions reveal a very common progression of sin—one that begins when we listen our own word instead of God’s. I want to trace the spiral in 1 Samuel 22 and encourage you to see if it’s familiar.
1. Saul viewed himself as the victim (22:7-8).
“It’s not my fault. Everyone’s against me. No one cares about me.” Whenever we listen to ourselves, this is where we begin. We are very willing to assume ultimate authority, but are never going to accept ultimate responsibility. It’s always going to be the other person’s fault. In difficult situations, if you find yourself blaming others, beware. You have begun to listen to yourself instead of God.
2. Saul trusted foolish counselors (22:9-10).
The Edomites were enemies of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament, they stand, almost proto-typically, as those opposed to God and His people. The King of Israel shouldn’t have been listening to the advice of an Edomite. Why did he? Because Doeg told him what he wanted to hear. When you listen to yourself, you first turn yourself into an innocent victim, and then you find those who say what you want them to say. At this point, you don’t care about the truth. You’re just looking for agreement. You’ll listen to anyone, as long as they agree with you.
3. Saul made wild accusations (22:11-15).
If you’re always the victim, and you’re listening to fools who only agree with you, then what’s to stop you from making wild accusations? We see, sadly, in this case, that the answer is nothing. Even though the explanation from the priest is clearly sound, Saul ignores it. The truth no longer matters. All that matters is what Saul wants to hear and believe. Sin’s downward spiral is evident, and it doesn’t stop here.
4. Saul acted with sinful abandon (22:16-19).
In the greatest irony of all, what Saul refused to do to the enemies of God—thoroughly wipe them out (ch. 15)—he does to the people of God. This is the progression of sin. It begins with excuses and rationalizations and ends with destruction.
This progression isn’t unique to Saul. Do you see yourself on that path? Maybe there’s a situation at work, in your home, in a relationship, at church where you see yourself as the victim, and you’ve begun to justify your actions…to trumpet your innocence…to boast about your self-righteousness? Maybe the process has just begun? Recognize it. Repent. Stop listening to yourself and begin to listen to God.