Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Saul rejected


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mar 31 — Day 23 — 1 Sam 13:8-23 — Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice

It’s not hard to see cause and effect in this incident. Saul may have been filled with the Spirit, but he was yet unwilling to let the Spirit have full reign. At this early point in his kingship, he was nervous and uncertain, not a good thing in a leader.

We read here that he couldn’t wait for Samuel to offer a burnt offering at Gilgal before battling the Philistines, so he rashly did Samuel’s duty for him. Bad idea.

His disobedience was punished by losing to the Philistines and by shortening his tenure as king. He was also guilty of poor planning, but I’ll let that one pass for now.

It’s hard for me to wait on the Lord sometimes, and I hope I am learning that impatience and rashness are usually not a good thing.

Apr 1 — Day 24 — 1 Sam 14:1-23 — Jonathan Defeats the Philistines

This is one of those “it may be that the Lord will…” accounts, which are scattered through the historical books of the OT.

Boys will be boys, and young Jonathan and his brave and trusting armor-bearer apparently decided to look for some excitement one night. They crawled in among the enemy garrison, trusting in the Lord to keep them safe. “It may be that the Lord will work for us.)

Blind, naive faith? After an improbable turn of events, the answer was clearly “no.” I think the real hero of this tale is Jonathan’s armor-bearer, whose faith was once removed.

What a tale! We white-haired old gents have trouble identifying with youthful presumption. We have been burned too many times. The lesson remains, though, there will come times when the way of obedience to the Lord’s command seems downright silly and presumptious. The choice is either to duck and run or to gulp and do it.

I think of the old German proverb, “We get too soon old and too late smart.”

Apr 2, 2014 — Lent Day 25 — 1 Sam 14:24-46 — Saul’s Rash Vow

How common it is that one simple foolish act often leads to endless complications.

In Saul’s case, his foolish act was a clumsy attempt to bargain with God. If God would just deliver him from military defeat, the people would fast. Didn’t he know that hungry and weak troops make poor warriors? This vow reflects Saul’s presumption, not his faith.

I think that God was not amused, and the Philistines proceeded to win the battle, vow or no vow. Perhaps now thinking that his vow was not a very good idea, a chastened Saul inquired of God, but God did not answer.

In the end, Jonathan did not have to suffer the consequences of his father’s rash vow. The people somehow knew that Jonathan had “worked with God this day.” End of story.

A theological hobby horse that I insist on riding is the importance of distinguishing between faith and presumption. Being too sure of God’s mind is surely questionable and often is just presuming on God’s grace. As it was with Saul, it is usually a bad idea.

Apr 3, 2014 — Lent Day 26 — 1 Sam 14:47-52 — Saul Fights Israel’s Enemies

There is not much that needs saying about this short passage. It is mostly a scene-setter with some added notes about Saul’s family.

Here are a few clues about Saul the man. His military leadership style in battle was to personally engage the strongest and bravest opposing warrior he could find.

This reminds me of a book I once read, The Velvet Covered Brick, I think it was. One idea has stuck with me from the book: when you feel you are really up against it, lean into the source of your pain. Don’t run from it. Good advice, especially for those who find themselves cast as reluctant leaders. Like Saul, perhaps. Like me, sometimes.

Apr 4, 2014 — Lent Day 27 — 1 Sam 15:1-35 — The Lord Rejects Saul

Saul rationalized his partial obedience to the command of the Lord. Yes, he destroyed the Amalekites, but he looked the other way when the people spared “Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs and all that was good … .”

“And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.” But he obediently went to Saul the next day and told him the bad news: that the Lord was going to reject him as king of Israel.

Saul tried to make amends to the Lord, but it was too late.

It makes me uncomfortable, as it should, that no fence straddling is allowed when it comes to obeying the Lord’s commands. My rationalization just doesn’t cut it with the Lord.

Uncomfortable or not, I usually know what the Lord wants of me. He leaves me no wiggle room. I either obey or I do not.

Apr 5, 2014 — Lent Day 28 — 1 Sam 16:1-13 — David Anointed King

Samuel was pretty upset when the Lord demoted King Saul. Was Samuel was a bit proud of his role in that anointing, do you think? So the Lord came to Samuel and said that we’ll just do it again.

Samuel did what the Lord commanded, although I think he may have had some inner reservations. But he was obedient, grabbed his oil and headed for Bethlehem and the ranch of Jesse.

Rather than have Samuel anoint one of the older sons, God selected the least of the brothers. To Samuel’s mild protest, for David no doubt seemed just a kid to him, we are told, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

The anointing proceeded, but I wonder how many there realized that a new king was being anointed.

Two truths in this passage for me to think on: 1) obedience is often if not always the name of the game, and 2) I see outward appearances first, but God looks on the heart.

Key Passage

[7] But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

This quotation is worth repeating, because, to me anyway, it is a lesson that has been pretty tough for me to learn. And I’m still learning (I hope). I seem to be hard-wired to favor the standards of our world when I evaluate people, institutions, and ethics, which I no doubt am, given the depravity of mankind. It is comforting to know that our Creator can see through our phoniness, or at least your phoniness.

I better quit while I am ahead.


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