Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die. And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan. - I Samuel 14:43-44
Fortunately, the people convinced Saul not to do it and pleaded with him to keep Jonathan alive. They reminded Saul of Jonathan's great victory over the Philistines in the past. If they were going to win the war once and for all, they advised, they were going to need Jonathan. So, Saul relented, though I don't think he was particularly happy about it.
Here's what gets me about this passage. Saul was ready to kill his son for disobeying one of his rules when in the chapter before and the chapter after, Saul disobeys God's rules. In chapter 13, we find him offering the sacrifice that only Samuel was supposed to offer. When Samuel rebuked him for it, Saul's reply was, "Well, we waited for you as long as we could, and then I did what I had to do." No remorse. No regret. Only justification for his sin.
Then, in chapter 15, Saul was instructed by God to kill the Amalekites and everything in the land. But instead, Saul spared the king, Agag, and also brought back much of the livestock. When Samuel confronted him, Saul again sputtered out excuses. "I know what God said, but I only brought back these animals so that we could offer them to the Lord." Evidently, Saul didn't realize that obedience was more important to the Lord than any worldly sacrifice.
Do you see the irony in Saul's story here? On two separate occasions, he disobeyed God then shrugged it off as nothing. But when Jonathan, his son, violated Saul's order, he sentenced him to death. Why was Jonathan's disobedience worthy of death when Saul's was barely worthy of a slap on the wrist (in Saul's mind anyway)? I think it's because Saul suffered from the same thing we do: Sin Comparison Syndrome. In other words, when we look at our own sins, we say, "No, I shouldn't have done that, but hey, everyone makes mistakes, right?" But when we look on the sins of others, we say, "Whoa! They did such a bad thing. I hope God punishes them for that." In short, everyone else's sin is much worse than our own sin and, therefore, worthy of a much greater punishment.
I believe this is why we sit in church services and think, I hope so-and-so is listening. He needs to hear this instead of examining our own lives and seeing how to apply the message to our personal sin. Like Saul, when our sin is pointed out to us, we often have a tendency to shrug our shoulders and make excuses. But the fact of the matter is that sin is sin, whether it's worrying about tomorrow or stealing a car. God hates sin. . . all sin, and none of it is excusable. It's time we get that through our heads and spend more time dealing with our own faults instead of examining and pointing out the faults in others. I don't know about you, but dealing with my own issues is a full-time job.
The next time you want to criticize someone or condemn them for their faults, remember Saul. His sin and the consequences of those sins led him to madness, but he was too busy pointing fingers at others to notice. Don't make the same mistake. Own up to your sin. Confess it to God, and live in sweet fellowship with Him. Then, let everyone else do the same. It's their job to deal with their sin, not yours. Just leave it alone!
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. - Matthew 7:1-5