Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Saul’

Obedience

Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,

It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.

And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?

And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.

Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?

And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.

And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. ~~ 1 Samuel 15:10-23 (KJV)

We get a fearful lesson in today’s reading. Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king of Israel. But Saul got carried away by his successes and decided that he knew better than God what he should do.

Saul’s disobedience grieved the Lord, and the consequence for that disobedience was the Lord’s rejection of Saul as king. When we reject the Lord, He withdraws His favor and leaves us to our own devices.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. No good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Our God is a good and loving Father. He allows us to learn from our mistakes. But experience is an expensive teacher.

Saul could have avoided the negative consequences had he simply been obedient to the Lord.

“To obey is better than sacrifice.” Mark it well in 1 Samuel 15:22.

When we know what to do and refuse to do it, we sin. Sin separates us from God. Not a good place to be.

Father, God,

Give us ears tuned to hear You. Make our hearts ready to obey. Keep us from the sins of arrogance and disobedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Obedience Is Better

10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,

11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.

12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?

18 And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.

19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?

20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

1 Samuel 15:10-23

We get a fearful lesson in this reading. Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king of Israel. But Saul got carried away by his successes and decided that he knew better than God what he should do.

Saul’s disobedience grieved the Lord, and the consequence for that disobedience was the Lord’s rejection of Saul as king. When we reject the Lord, He withdraws His favor and leaves us to our own devices.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. No good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Our God is a good and loving Father. He allows us to learn from our mistakes. But experience is an expensive teacher.

Saul could have avoided the negative consequences had he simply been obedient to the Lord.

“To obey is better than sacrifice.” Mark it well in 1 Samuel 15:22.

When we know what to do and refuse to do it, we sin. Sin separates us from God. Not a good place to be.

Father, God,

Give us ears tuned to hear You. Make our hearts ready to obey. Keep us from the sins of arrogance and disobedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 30 March 2009.

Thank you for your indulgence.

About Face

Focus verses: Acts 9:1-22

When we last saw Saul, he was participating in the stoning of Stephen. Saul was a second generation Pharisee. He seems to have had a position in the Temple at Jerusalem. He was diametrically opposed to the followers of the new Way.

While on his way to Damascus searching for followers of Jesus to bring them back to Jerusalem for trial and punishment, he literally saw the Light. That Light blinded him for three days. He was led to Damascus and spent those three days in fasting and prayer.

Then the Lord sent Ananias to him for healing and baptism.

Ananias was not eager to go to Saul. He had heard Saul’s reputation and knew that Saul had authority to arrest all who called on the name of Jesus. He went because he was told that Saul was God’s chosen instrument to carry the word to the Gentiles.

When he went he did not rebuke Saul. He called him “brother.” He laid hands on Saul, restoring his sight. Then Paul spent some time with the disciples in Damascus, presumably talking and learning.

As a Pharisee, Saul would have been familiar with all the Old Testament. It would not have been a far leap for the disciples to speak of Jesus and Paul to have seen the fulfillment of prophesy in His life.

But the people in general were skeptical. They knew his reputation – and his deeds. They didn’t believe his conversion. He had to prove it to them.

How often do we do this to others? We know who people are – or at least what kind of people they have been. Then there is a change in their lives, but we keep them in the old pigeon hole where we had cataloged them. We don’t accept their change, and therefore we make the change difficult for them.

Look at the grace of Ananias. He called Saul his brother. He didn’t do this in his own strength. He extended the grace of God.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to keep from pigeon holing people in predetermined molds. Help us to extend Your grace to all who would follow you regardless of their past.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

A House Divided

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 2:1-10

Life is messy. Even when things are progressing toward fulfilling God’s plans, man generally finds a way to complicate the issue.

The nation of Israel had been divided into two nations: Israel and Judah. David was make king over Judah, but God had anointed him to be king over all Israel.

Today’s reading encompasses the seven plus years from David’s coronation in Judah to his being crowned king of Israel. The passage chronicles a civil war between the house of Saul and David. Filled with treachery murder and revenge, it seems like chaos reigns.

Even when circumstances look bad, God is in control. Our sovereign God gave man free will, so we can mess things up royally, but He will see His plans come to fruition.

David did one thing right. He sought the Lord’s counsel before undertaking any actions. He was constantly mindful of God’s authority and God’s presence. In another place, he is called a man after God’s own heart. David sought the heart of God and was content to wait until God brought about His plans.

Father, God,

Imbue us with a hunger for Your heart. Keep us seeking to know You better, to know Your will in all our lives. Grant us the patience to wait upon Your timing, to be content to let You have Your way in our lives.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Witch of Endor

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 28:3-25

Saul’s visit to the witch at Endor was the last straw in his fall from God’s grace. He had progressed from anointed, to arrogant, to disobedient, to envious, to cruel, to fearful, to divination.

But notice that the first step on that slippery slope was arrogance. He got puffed up with himself. He forgot that God was sovereign, that he held the crown of Israel only at God’s pleasure.

He forgot that the primary duty of the child of God is obedience. He second-guessed God at several turns. Then when God stopped speaking to him, he forced the witch to conjure up Samuel.

The witch reminded the men who came to her that Saul himself had forbidden witchcraft and conjuring of spirits. But it was Saul, himself, who was seated before her, asking her to break his own laws. The witch was not the cause of Saul’s fall. She was merely the last symptom of his depravity.

We do well to watch ourselves. When you are faithful to God, sometimes the world begins to praise you. If you believe the praise of the world and forget that God is the prime mover for all that you do well, you are in danger of starting down that same path Saul took.

Father, God,

Save us from arrogance and pride. Teach us humility and obedience to Your will and Your words. Tune our ears to hear you so that we are not tempted to seek information from other, less reliable sources.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Vision and Perspective

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 24:1-22

The readings from April thus far have chronicled the enmity Saul had for David, and David’s escape to various parts of the countryside. But today we see the tables have been turned.

David had hidden deep in a cave when Saul came to use that same cave as a shelter. It seemed that the Lord had delivered Saul into David’s hands. But David did Saul no harm. Instead he took a piece of Saul’s cloak. When Saul left the cave, David came out of his hiding place and made his presence known. He used the piece of Saul’s garment as evidence of his lack of malice toward Saul.

His fidelity to Saul, despite Saul’s persecution of him, stemmed from the fact that Saul was still God’s anointed king of Israel. Saul’s position came from God. David was acutely aware of that fact, and he was willing to bide his time until the Lord should put the crown of Israel on his head.

We would do well to emulate David. He knew that he was to be king at some point, but he was willing to wait upon the Lord’s timing for the event.

Too often, we know — or think we know — the plans God has for our lives, but we are unwilling to wait upon His timing. Even when circumstances are not unpleasant or even dangerous as they were for David, we grow impatient.

Father, God,

Help us to put our lives into Your perspective. Show us the vision You have for our lives and teach us the patience to wait upon Your timing.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Ceaseless Praise

Focus verses: Psalm 34

Today’s reading relates David’s exploits while on the run from Saul and includes three psalms. Psalm 34 is a paean of praise. “I will extol the Lord at all times.”

That’s good advice for all of us. We are told that God inhabits the praises of his people. When we focus on praising God, we put all our problems and troubles into perspective. Nothing that comes against us is larger than God. Nothing can separate us from God against our will.

“A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” This verse delivers rich comfort. No matter what happens, God has the situation well in hand. Events that rock us to the foundations never surprise Him. He is aware before hand and has made preparation for them all.

David sang to the Lord, frequently — one might say endlessly. Singing to the Lord is a good habit. When we sing the old hymns, we learn the tenets of our faith, the attributes of God, and the ways of the righteous. When we sing the new praise choruses, we join in an unending stream of praise. Somewhere, someone is singing to the Lord all the time. Or if they’re not, they should be.

An unending hymn of praise rising from this blue marble in the universe would go a long way toward correcting the problems we’re dealing with in today’s world.

Sing praise!

Father, God,

Renew the song in our hearts. Restore to us the joy of our first love of Christ. Make the waters of praise and thanksgiving effervesce within us. Let us be harbingers of joy and thanksgiving. Help us to lift the spirits of all we meet.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.