Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 10 May 20:
1 Samuel 28:5-7 — ” When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.’”
Under pressure, consumed by fear, with no ‘special’ revelation from God, Saul again, demonstrates his lack of integrity and disobeys God’s clear commands in order to get ‘answers’ he couldn’t seem to get from God. How well you obey God’s word and remain faithful to Him under pressure when God doesn’t miraculously give you a specific answer to your problem says much about your faith and character – “The teacher is silent during the test.”
– Leviticus 19:31 — Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.
– Leviticus 20:6 — If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.
– Leviticus 20:27 — A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.
– Isaiah 8:19 — And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?
Side note: It is also interesting that Saul’s servants were aware of lawbreakers acting behind Saul’s back and only told him now – As the Marines say, “Expect neglect in what you don’t inspect.” What is truly important to the leader will be important to everyone else. If you don’t really care, they won’t really care. Normalized nonconformity is a leadership problem. Saul revealed his true heart, what he really believed in and cared about, when he also turned to a medium, countering his own orders to Israel in complete hypocrisy. However, it would appear everyone already knew his heart on the matter well before he acted on it. Despite what we might say, what we prioritize and commit to on a daily basis reveals what we really believe and what we care about truly. Saul didn’t really love the Lord and others as he should, and everyone knew it.
Against God’s Law, Saul sought a medium because “the Lord did not answer him.” This is the same reason people today turn to other sources rather than God for answers. For most people, it’s not a medium they go to but rather world philosophies, other people, “common sense,” etc. They go to others for answers rather than God because they have either never heard from God or no longer hear the voice of God – communication has ceased. However, Jesus said, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers…. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…. they will listen to my voice.” (John 10:3-5, 14, 14-16) Do you clearly hear, recognize, understand, and obey the voice of the Good Shepherd, and are you able to discern between His voice and the voice of the thieves that seek to steal the sheep?
The Bible explains why God did not answer Saul: “Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord…. the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy (28:18, 16).” His disobedience had separated him from God and hardened his heart. In his sin (rejection of God’s clear commands), not only could he not hear God, God had stopped talking with him. As Proverbs tell us, “Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight (Proverbs 11:20).” Of course, most people with a crooked heart, don’t believe they have a crooked heart – “I’m a good person.” As the old joke goes: “What do all prisoners have in common? They are all innocent.” In their pride, some refuse to acknowledge their sin, repent and walk by God’s word in humble obedience. Often, the prideful are looking for a ‘special’ revelation (“What does God want me to do?”) because God’s clearly written commands are just not satisfying. They accept the consequential silence from God as “reality” and turn to other forms of “knowledge” for answers. Often, they tell themselves that their emotions and imagination are the voice of God – “God told me to [do the thing I want to do].”
The Apostles would rebuke this kind of “Christian” — “Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame (1 Corinthians 15:34)…. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6)…. Destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)…. Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:9)…, the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2, 3)…. Come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)…. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge (1 Timothy 6:20)’…. “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26)…. Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:5-11)…. For if, after [you] have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, [you] are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first (2 Peter 2:20)…. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge (1 John 1:20).”
From today’s readings, consider how different David’s life and testimony is from Saul’s: “This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life (Psalm 56:9-13).
Despite his circumstances, David lived life in confidence knowing that God was “for him” because David trusted in God, praised the word of God, and kept his vows before God. He gave thanks to God and “walked before God.” Are you walking before God or men?
Saul’s religion was self-serving, all about Saul. When pressed in a corner, Saul revealed the truth of his character. He obeyed God only when it appeared expedient or profitable and then justified his sin when appeared to suit him. What do you do when you are facing a dilemma without an obvious response from God? Do you remain obedient to His word, or do you take matters into your own hands?
Again, if you want to hear from God, you must be careful to obey His written word which He has freely provided, and which is not hard to understand. Don’t look for a special revelation when you have ignored His general revelation.
– John 14:15 — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
– Psalm 56:4 — In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
– Psalm 119:11, 67, 101, 103, 105 — I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you…. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word…. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word…. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!… Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 May 20: When you need to make a decision and you don’t seem to be hearing something specific from God, prayerfully obey the word He has already given you in the Bible. Read, pray, obey, and don’t stray from the Way.