Tag Archives: king Saul

Obedience is an act of Love

When did obedience become a sacrifice?

Scripture tells us God wants those who are His to follow Him in loving obedience. Yet, those He commands to obey rebel and may justify their rebellion as an obedient sacrifice. This shows superstitious thinking, trying to hide personal sin and rationalize poor choices and actions.

Though Scripture is replete with examples the coronation of King Saul is one such story. God chose Saul as king over Israel because the people wanted a king. Samuel grieved over this choice but God reminded him of the rebellious hearts of the people.

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. … Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. [1 Samuel 8:7, 9-10 ESV]

Read what Samuel told Saul when he anointed him king in 1 Samuel 10:1-7.

God’s priest, Samuel, gave Saul God’s authority anointing him king. Saul now has authority to act as one with God’s full power behind him. Yet, Saul was weak so God gave him three signs to confirm his authority. What did Saul do after these signs were fulfilled? Was he fully convinced of his place before God? Did he rally the people and the fighting men around him and attack the enemies of Israel? Did he throw off the oppression of the enemies of God? Did he take the throne with strength and force and certainty? Did he plan anything to help his people become free from the threat of God’s enemies? Did he seek God and set his hands and will to do the will God?

He went home and started plowing. He knew how to work for his family but had never been taught to work for God. It wasn’t until the Ammonites attacked Jabesh-gilead that God’s righteous anger welled up in Saul and he took command.

Saul’s authority was as Israel’s king not as God’s priest. God held these offices in sharp distinction. Samuel would not do what Saul was appointed by God to do and Saul should not do what Samuel was given to do by God. Here is Saul downfall. He had not been taught, nor did he seek to have, a relationship with the God he served. When the Spirit of God came upon Saul as fulfillment of one of the signs of his authority he was changed. He did not embrace the change but retreated to the comfortable and known.

Again, the Philistines attacked Israel and Saul, the designated leader, hid with his men in caves. When Samuel did not arrive within the designated time Saul committed a rash act.

“Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him.

Samuel said, “What have you done?”

And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” [1 Samuel 13:9-12 ESV]

Saul was afraid. He did not trust God. Being God’s appointed authority over the nation gave him a place before God no one else had. But, he was superstitious and tried to control God by offering a sacrifice which he had no authority to offer. He knew offering the sacrifice was wrong. Notice he said he “forced” himself to offer the sacrifice.

This one act sealed Saul’s future. It is not that sacrifice was wrong. Nor was it that Saul didn’t need to seek God’s face and will. He needed to ask for God’s strength and direction, to talk with God and listen to Him. His act was foolish, the act of a man who thinks he can manipulate God by doing something, anything, to gain His attention and good-will.

Because of this act Saul lost the kingdom to David, a man after God’s own heart. David sinned more grievously than Saul ever could. But David carried in the thinking of his heart a spirit of repentance. When David did wrong he grieved at how he sinned against God. When Saul did wrong he excused his actions as necessary. David loved God. Saul had no love for God.

Obedience is evidence of love for God.

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Examples of Meekness: David

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 ESV]

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.”

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 16:1, 6-7 ESV]

David’s legacy, as found in Scripture, comes from God’s perspective not man’s. All of the kings descended from David are compared to him. He is the standard by which God judges their actions. For, from before David was anointed by Samuel as king of Israel until his death, David sought the Lord with his heart. Either the future kings of Judah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, walking with God as David their father had done, or they did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did not wholly follow God, as David had done.

Everyone with a Bible may read about David. His devotion to God was unparalleled. His sins, though, were typical. Yet, because he was the king, the leader of the nation of Israel, when David sinned, not only did he bear the consequences of his sin but so did the entire nation.

David demonstrated specific characteristics throughout his life. He did not set himself up as king as soon as he was anointed, grasping after the throne or trying to displace Saul. Saul was still alive and David would do nothing to shorten the life of the living king. Everything David did, in relation to Saul, reinforced the kingship of Saul though Saul was rejected as king by God. David fought for truth, God’s truth, true truth, not Saul’s or his own perception of truth. David recognized man’s eyes and the thinking of their hearts were corrupted by sin. When David sinned he not only recognized his sin but grieved deeply over the consequences of his sin. He was “poor in spirit” and he “mourned” over sin, especially his own.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. [Psalm 51:15-17 ESV]

David intimately knew God and saw how He worked from before he was anointed king. As the youngest of eight sons David was not pampered but sent to work caring for his father’s sheep. The simplicity of his work ethic and his experienced trust in God comes through when Israel is challenged by Goliath. His duty was to mind the sheep. He did this in spite of dangerous circumstances and the occasional predator. How many of us would run from a lion or the bear even if the sheep they were attacking were ours? They are just sheep! Not David. He fought the lion and bear, killing both, because he knew God would fight for him. He believed God. He trusted God. He obeyed God. No matter the circumstances.

David relied upon the strength of God whether to defeat his enemies, make decisions or repent of the most grievous of sins. He was the youngest and least of the sons of Jesse. But God chose him because of the thinking of his heart showing the meekness of his life before God. He was the greatest king of Israel. David relied upon God’s strength working through him under God’s control and inherited a name by which all of the true kings of Israel were judged.

From David’s descendants, from the city of Bethlehem, came the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ. When Scripture speaks about a future king In Him is no sin. In Him is justice and mercy and an unshakable government. There will be no divided kingdom and He will reign forever.

Everything Jesus did, his miracles and care for the people pointed to His divinity. Yet the people He encountered either hated Him or wanted to make Him an authority over them thinking He might be the one who would remove the presence of the Romans and help establish a geographical kingdom if Israel. Jesus came to establish a kingdom but not one constrained by physical boundaries. “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself” [John 6:14-15 ESV]. He removed Himself from a place where the people might take control. When the people of Israel asked for a king it was in rebellion against God because they wanted to be like the nations around them. “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah  and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations” [1 Samuel 8:4-5 ESV].

Yet, Jesus recognized His heritage, that He was descended from King David and that He was the spiritual king of His eternal kingdom. He accepted the worship and adoration of those who were His but on His terms.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” [John 12:12-15 ESV]

He was not fighting for something which He already owned. Like His ancestor David, who did not lay claim to his rightful place as king of Israel once he was anointed but waited for God to work Jesus fulfilled the command to obey even under the most tortuous circumstances. While David fled from Saul, who wanted him dead, Jesus stood before Pilate and the religious leaders who wanted Him dead.

And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” [Luke 23:2-3 ESV]

David did not fight for his kingdom trying to claim that which was already his.  But, he did fight for his kingdom, protecting and growing and establishing it at God’s direction. Jesus did not fight for His kingdom, laying claim to a people already His. He did die for His kingdom, redeeming those who are His from the kingdom of sin. David inherited the earth, the geographical area established by God as the nation of Israel. Jesus owns the earth and eternity and give it to whomever He wills. He gives it to those who recognize sin, realize the consequences of sin and relinquish control of self to Him gaining His strength in them under His control.