Don’t let “Monkey see; monkey do” be your downfall.

When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. – 1 Samuel 31:5

David had returned to Ziklag to his family only to find the town burned down and everyone taken captive. He pursued after their captors, defeated them, and regained all the people and possessions of Ziklag. Meanwhile, Saul had been fighting the Philistine army. They overpowered the Israelite army and defeated them. Their archers wounded Saul critically, and he called to his armor bearer to kill him to prevent them from torturing him. However, the soldier refused to do so out of fear. Then Saul impaled himself with his sword and died. The armor bearer seeing the king and princes dead on the battlefield decided out of fear to commit suicide like Saul to avoid being captured by the Philistine army.

When we were children, most of us learned the phrase, “Monkey see; monkey do.” This idea is nothing new. Apparently Saul’s attaché knew of this principle some 3,000 years ago. When he saw Saul take his life to prevent capture by the enemy, he did likewise. Why? Because of fear of being tortured by enemy hands but also out of lack of discipline.

Saul was neither the greatest leader nor the best example to follow. He had refused to listen to God, refused to obey God, and refused to humble himself before God. Even after Saul had been mortally wounded, he could have called out to God for mercy in faith and received God’s salvation. However, Saul was so evil and self-reliant that he chose to die in his sins rather than humble himself and seek God’s mercy and grace. Saul knew the enemy would torture him if they captured him alive. Why? Because he was the enemy and the leader of the enemy forces and nation. What higher prize was there other than King Saul?

Thus, Saul committed suicide to avoid being captured and tortured by Philistine forces. He chose to face the King of kings on judgment day for his actions rather than throw himself on the mercy of said King! When Saul’s attaché saw this act and realized the same fate awaited him if captured, he decided to take his life also. We can be sure that this soldier witnessed many an evil deed of King Saul and had heard all the old stories of how he tried to kill David more than once and had made a lifelong pursuit of it. This soldier didn’t have a great role model or mentor in the likes of Saul.

Who is your mentor? What example is that person setting for you? Do you follow a leader who lives in sin and does what he wants? Or, do you follow a Godly leader that strives to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness? Furthermore, what kind of leader are you? What kind of example are you setting for others? Whether we know it or not or want to admit or not, other people watch everything we do and listen to everything we say. People are like parrots. They tend to mimic those in charge or those they admire. People are also like monkeys in that they will repeat the actions of another in the pack if it is advantageous to them.

I am reminded of the technique that is used to catch monkeys in parts of the world by hunters. They will take jars barely large enough for the primates to slip their hands through and fill them with food. Once the monkey puts its hand in and grabs the food, it is no able to remove its hand from the trap so long as it holds onto the food. Its natural instinct for survival overrides any sense of reasoning that may exist. They desire the food so much that they will sit there and allow themselves to be caught. And when multiple animals do this and see another being caught ahead of them, those not yet captured will not release the food and escape being caught. They are too greedy to let go and flee. Thus monkey see; monkey do.

Are you following after the wrong leader/example? Do you have your hand in the trap and remain so stubborn that you have let sin capture you and enslave you again? Don’t you see that you need to first set your sights on the perfect example we have in Jesus the Messiah and follow His leading through the Holy Spirit and thus walk a life in faith through the Spirit and not fulfill human lusts that trap us? Satan doesn’t have to set out traps that take your life much like the monkey traps that are just open jars staked to the ground. If he gets you to put your hand into the jar of sin and not let go, he’s go control of you without any real effort on his part. He let you do the work for him. Yet, God can free you from that trap if you will but let go of your sinful ways, repent of them, seek His forgiveness, and follow after Him. Remember there is no other way because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He’s the only One who can set you free because whom He’s set free is free indeed!

Father, thank You for teaching me to let go of the temporary pleasure of sin in the jar. It had a hold on me for so long simply because I refused to let go of sin and to take my hand out of the jar. I’d seen many a person caught in the sin jar just like those monkeys and knew what fate awaited me if I didn’t let go and flee. But, I held on and refused to ease my grip at all. Then one day, You came and flicked me in the back of the head and woke me up to the reality of sin in which I lived. I harkened to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repented of my former ways, let go of the sin in my hand, and fled the scene toward the narrow Gate in Jesus that leads to the path of Life. Help me to spread the message to others that have their hands still stuck in the sin jar and are stuck simply because they refuse to let go of evil. In Jesus’ name, Amen.