Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 3 May 21:
Today, reflect on Saul’s story and pray that God will enable you to see your sin the way He sees it, and pray that God will enable in you a true heart of repentance, motivated by genuine love for Him and confident in His grace:
1 Samuel 15:12, 13 – “And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, ‘Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.’ And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, ‘Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.’”
The Lord anointed Saul King over Israel and gave him specific instructions to annihilate the city of Amelek. However, Saul and the people only destroyed that which was “despised and worthless,” but they “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.” (1 Samuel 15:9) Then, in his prideful disobedience, Saul set up a monument to honor himself rather than to the Sovereign Lord who had anointed him and enabled him. Yet, Saul had convinced himself that he was godly – “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” How often do people today live in willful disobedience before the Lord while claiming to be committed Christians, choosing to glorify self rather than glorifying God? How many are attending church on Sunday while setting up monuments to self the rest of the week? How many are dedicating to the Lord that which is “worthless” while saving the best for themselves?
1 Samuel 15:14 — “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”
Having chosen his own desires over obedience, Saul still attempted to claim obedience and fidelity to God though his disobedience was plainly obvious. We may deceive ourselves, and perhaps others, in our justifications of disobedience, but God hears clearly the bleating of the sheep.
1 Samuel 15:15-16 — “Saul said, ‘They have brought them…. the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.’ Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop!”
Instead of humbly confessing His sins, Saul blamed other people and claimed good intentions for himself. Samuel refused to listen to Saul’s pathetic denial and deflections any longer. You can’t fix what you aren’t willing to be honest about, and you can’t blame other people or your circumstances for what you choose to do. Samuel confronted Saul in his denial, who do you have in your life who will confront you? Are you willing to listen?
1 Samuel 15:22 — “Has 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 listen than the fat of rams.”
True worship is obedience to God’s word, not just ceremony and superficial displays of emotion or sacrifice. Disobedience is a rejection of God’s Lordship and makes an idol of ourselves as we place our selfish desires over God’s commands. Partial obedience is disobedience, and like Saul, we have a tendency to hold something back from God, often telling ourselves, “God is OK with it; he understands.” As you consider your life and your fidelity to God can you hear the “bleating of the sheep… and the lowing of the oxen?” What sins have you been holding on to that you need to surrender this moment? “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).”
- James 4:7 — Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1 Samuel 15:23 — “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”
Again, when we reject and disobey God’s word, we make idols of ourselves and serve ourselves instead of God. We might not practice witchcraft or worship statues, but the Bible says that rebellion and presumption are essentially the same thing, prioritizing something over the LORD.
1 Samuel 15:25 — “Please pardon my sin.” Being sorry and being repentant are not the same thing. A person can be sorry because they don’t want to suffer the consequences of their sins, while still lacking a heart that is genuinely sorrowful for having sinned at all, regardless of consequences, and that earnestly desires to never sin again. Are you just sorry or truly repentant?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 May 21: As stated above, today, reflect on Saul’s story and pray that God will enable you to see your sin the way He sees it, and pray that God will enable in you a true heart of repentance, motivated by genuine love for Him and confident in His grace.