Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 6 May 18:
1. 1 Sam 13:2 — Saul preferred to fight with a very small fighting force composed of men he could trust rather than a large one full of questionable fighters. Likewise, God uses a few faithful people to do great things. Can God trust you enough to uses you in a great way?
2. 1 Sam 13:8 — “But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him.” It takes faith to wait on The Lord at critical times. Without faith it is impossible to please The Lord. When faith is weak, people attempt to take matters into their hands. When we take the lead ahead of God, we rob ourselves of His blessings and bring upon ourselves curses.
3. 1 Samuel 13:9 — “And he offered the burnt offering.” When Saul decided to worship God on his own terms, his life changed forever for the worst, and he turned to the path of destruction, though still claiming spirituality.
4. 1 Sam 13:9-14 — Saul also crossed the “separation of church and state” line, and in so doing, lost his legitimate authority to lead.
5. 1 Samuel 13:11, 12 — “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and… the Philistines had mustered at Michmash…. I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” Fear of man over fear of God incited Saul to sin terribly.
6. 1 Samuel 13:13 — “You have not kept the command of The LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.” All Saul had to do was obey.
7. 1 Samuel 13:14 — “The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.” God looks for people who will faithfully put Him first and follow Him.
8. 1 Samuel 13:19 — “Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, ‘Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.’” God’s people were forced into caves and a struggle for survival because they had slowly allowed the kingdoms of the world to control them and rule over them. The Philistines controlled the Israelites through arms control and property control, allowing them neither the right to bear arms nor the right to own production capacity. By controlling the industry required for farming, the Philistines could then tax the basic livelihood of the Israelites, keeping them poor, weak, and dependent. You can be sure that many will do whatever they can to render God’s people powerless today too. For example, there are many political special interest groups seeking to deny Christians the basic rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion that we have long taken for granted. The longer we remain passively silent in the face of such attacks, the greater the price. Already, Christians have largely surrendered the institutions of societal influence to unbelievers – the media, the schools, the government, the arts, etc. In the social discourse and the market place of ideas, we have become largely silent. As we see our nation adopt policies which directly and boldly defy God’s word, we hear virtually nothing from God’s people who remain in their caves. We need a Jonathan to climb out of his cave and remind God’s people of one of God’s first commandments: “Be fruitful, multiply, and SUBDUE the earth.”
9. 1 Samuel 14:6 — “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” Jonathan had courage in The Lord, not in his own might. Jonathan did not put his hope or confidence in the strength of men but rather in the power of God, and this made him an effective leader, powerfully used by God. While the Israelites were stalled in fear due to lack of faith under the leadership of Saul who had walked away from God, Jonathan was prepared for a seemingly impossible victory from God.
10. 1 Samuel 14:7 — “And his armor-bearer said to him, ‘Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.’” There is no greater blessing on earth than a wholehearted Christian companion who is willing to join you at all cost in pursuit of God’s will.
11. 1 Samuel 14:14 — Jonathan was strengthened by the loyalty and courage of his armor bearer. To whom are you an armor bearer? Who is your armor bearer?
12. 1 Samuel 14:15 — “The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.” If God is with you, no one can stand against you.
13. 1 Samuel 14:20 – “…every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion.” Infighting is the sign of a failed organization (or church). Disunity cannot stand against unity.
14. 1 Samuel 14:20 — “Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle.” Sometimes all people need is a faithful, courageous leader. Are you that leader, or are you just waiting for someone else?
15. 1 Samuel 14:22 – Again, one courageous leader can change everything.
16. 1 Samuel 14:24 — “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” Saul made a rash vow which had nothing to do with God’s will but was solely based on his self-centered pride. Self-centered leaders only harass their followers.
17. 1 Sam 14:24, 29, 35 — For Saul, the battle was about “I” and “me”, and his unwise decision-making revealed it. Because of his self-centered leadership, Saul “troubled the land.” Still, Saul imagined himself to be a godly leader.
18. 1 Samuel 14:32 — “The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood.” Saul’s failure to care for his troops by needlessly pushing them beyond their physically limits incited them to sin against God.
19. 1 Samuel 14:37 — “And Saul inquired of God, ‘Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?’ But he did not answer him that day.” When Saul walked away from God, God stopped answering his prayers, but Saul blamed God’s silence on sins of those who actually had not sinned. Godless leaders are always quick to blame someone or something else.
20. 1 Samuel 14:50 — “And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.” Though senior in familial position, Saul’s uncle respected the governmental authority of Saul. The Bible calls us all to submit to authority in the home, in the church, and in government. Jesus modeled this to us by obeying His mother and by submitting to the authority of the Father, though in Sprit He was equally God. Wives are called to submit to husbands. Do you have a problem with this?
21. Proverbs 6:1-5 — Let no debt remain but the debt of love.
22. Proverbs 6:6-11 — Work hard and make sacrifices today in order to save for the future.
23. Proverbs 6:12-15 — Don’t play games in your relationships. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Put all your cards on the table and be open and upfront with everyone. Let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no”. Ensure your aim is to always heal and to bring peace and greater unity.
24. Proverbs 6:23 — Discipline (external discipline in the form of punishment) today is intended to protect us from temptation tomorrow. It helps us connect pain (negative consequences) to a behavior in order to counter the pleasure we desire from instant gratification.
25. Proverbs 6:30-35 — There is no excuse for adultery, and it is not excused.
26. Psalm 53:1 — “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Foolish atheists are nothing new. Throughout history, there have been fools who said that there is no God.
27. Psalm 53:3 — “Ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves.” Those who do not know God are capable of all sorts of evil.
28. Psalm 53:4 — “Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God?” Those who refuse to acknowledge God become a God unto themselves and thereby justify their selfishness. They cannot be trusted. Their motto is, “It’s you and me until it is you or me.”
29. Psalm 54:4 — God is your helper.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 May: Today, resolve to patiently wait on The Lord for resolutions or answers to the things that concern or trouble you. Don’t take matters into your own hands and disobey God’s commands. (1 Samuel 13:8-13) Meanwhile, make it your primary goal to praise and worship God today in thanksgiving and joy. Psalm 54:6 — “I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.”