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If ever a life had fair opening and opportunity, it was Saul’s.

Every personal
advantage that could be desired was his. Good looks above all in Israel; immense
strength of bodily frame; mental qualities to match; wisdom and courage suitable for a
king … Then his circumstances were of that sort that most persons would envy …
He comes before us with many qualities which engage respect. There is modesty, …
generosity, … courage, … kindliness of heart. Then there was some working of piety in
him; not much, but still apparently some. He had a sensitive nature ... Everything thus
seems to concur to make life not only moderate but brilliant success.
Power, opportunity, circumstances, advantages, natural endowment, - all in favour.
And God, always waiting to make (the) best of us, sought to make the best of him. And
if he had but walked with God, what service he might have rendered, and what joy in life
have won! But, alas! Amidst all these supreme advantages and natural probabilities of
success, there is one defect of character which mars everything.
There is a willfulness, which is left unrestrained; a habit of choosing his own path and
keeping to it; impatience of any restraint of religion or duty. … Self-will, declining the
restraints of religion, and those of conscience, early appears in him. He is never humbly
obedient, but picks and chooses what part of precept he likes, stopping short of a whole
obedience. Always feeling at liberty to revise and moderate the requirements of God, he
thus comes short, through willfulness, of God’s requirements.
The self-will that declines to serve heartily soon ceases to serve at all. … The very
energy which, restrained and ordered, would have been of vast service, unrestrained,
becomes terror to his friends. That firmness of nerve-formation which, consecrated,
would have lain his nature open to God, unconsecrated lays him open to invasion of evil
spirit, to madness and fury. His action is disapproved by his best friends … by nation, by
his own heart. And wasting powers of nature … he sinks lower and lower, till eve of last
battle finds him in sheer despair. … And disobedience leading to despair, the two soon
lead to destruction. … And there is deplorable defeat where there would have been
grandest victory. … And, instead of his ranking with great heroes that have wrought
deliverance in the earth, he stands a majestic, melancholy might-have-been and nothing
more. A truncated life; a casting spoilt in the moulding. The mere possibility of such a
thing should rouse solicitude in all our hearts. …
Your career may have every prospect of being honourable, useful, happy. But
probability is not certainty. Whether probability (is) realized will depend altogether and
exclusively on (the) degree of faithfulness you manifest.
We say, “We will do much, but not this. We will sacrifice much, but not this. We
will follow, but will choose our own time and our own way.” … Let us beware of this
self-will. It has a look of force and energy; but it really destroys both. It changes the
may-be into the might-have-been. … Self-will never is allowed in any soul without
consequences of saddest kind. …
Man keeps back nothing from Christ save to his own hurt. You give up nothing but
you profit. Don’t let our lives be mere might-have-beens. But keep faithfully to the path
of duty as shown by Christ, and then, although men of grandest early advantages and
powers make grievous shipwreck, you, with no advantages and no special power, will
find that “that which concerneth you God will perfect.”

The Pulpit Commentary, I Chronicles p. 133-134, I Chronicles 10:4, (R. Glover)

Gold Nugget 281
A Majestic Might-Have-Been