Life is filled with choices — dozens, hundreds, even thousands of choices each and every day.

Maybe you are at a fork in the road of your life, where you are facing an important choice right now. Perhaps it is a decision regarding a relationship or a career. Maybe it is something else.

Whatever decision you must make, make the right choice. Choices produce consequences, and actions produce reactions.

We find a clear and tragic example of this in the life of Saul, Israel’s first king. His life is a study in contrasts. He started his reign in victory and ended it in humiliating defeat.

His life stands as a warning that you cannot rebel against God and get away with it. Your choices and actions will catch up with you — maybe not today, maybe not even tomorrow. But sooner or later, the Bible says, your sin will find you out unless you repent.

Saul’s story begins with the nation of Israel, which until then had been ruled by various judges, along with prophets who would give the word of the Lord to them. But the people grew tired of that. They wanted a king, because other nations had kings.

So they complained to the prophet Samuel. As God instructed him, Samuel warned them of the consequences of having a king. Still, they were intent on having one.

Samuel brought Saul before the people of Israel and told them: “Here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired.... If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God” (1 Samuel 12:13-14 nkjv).

Not long afterward, Saul began an inexplicable course of self-destruction. He became a victim of himself — full of impatience, pride, rebellion, and jealousy, ultimately leading to attempted murder.

Over a period of years, he descended from being a great leader to being a paranoid tyrant. And when he directly disobeyed God’s command, Samuel said to him, “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart...” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 nlt).

After this, Saul went from bad to worse. It wasn’t long before David emerged on the scene, and Saul began to relentlessly pursue him out of paranoia and jealousy. Saul eventually died a pathetic death on the battlefield, taking his own life.

Saul started well, but he finished badly. In effect he wrote his own epitaph when he said, “Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly” (1 Samuel 26:21 nkjv).

We too can “play the fool.” We play the fool when we disobey God, even in the smallest matters. Spiritual decline is gradual. It is not for us to pick and choose what we like about God’s will for our lives. It is for us to do what the Bible teaches.

We play the fool when we attempt to justify the wrong we have done. More than once, Saul blamed others for what he had done. He was more concerned about the opinions of people than the opinion of God.

We play the fool when we forget that how we finish is more important than how we start. Finishing well is important. Saul forgot that.

We play the fool when we allow hatred to control our lives instead of love. Saul’s jealousy ultimately destroyed him. He thought everyone was out to get him, but he was self-destructing.

We are all going to slip up in life. We are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to sin. But you don’t want to look back on your life one day and think, I threw my life away by the stupid choices I made.

The question is, can you learn from your mistakes? Can you say, “That was such a bitter experience, such a hard pill to swallow, I pray that I will never do that again”?

If so, you have learned something. Something good will have come out of something bad.

But if you go back and do the same thing again and again and again, then you are falling backward. And ultimately, you are going to play the fool.