Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 10 September 2022:
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?
Psalms 103:7 – He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
From Henry T. Blackaby — Are you satisfied with merely knowing the acts of God, or do you also want to know His ways? There is a difference. This difference is illustrated in the lives of the children of Israel as compared to Moses. The Israelites witnessed the miracles God performed; they walked across the dry Red Sea just as Moses did. They ate the manna and quail from heaven even as Moses did. They were content to receive God’s provision without ever knowing God Himself. Yet Moses saw beyond the provision of God to the person of God. Others, such as the Egyptian magicians, might perform miraculous acts, but no one else did things the way God did (Exod. 7:11-12). The way God acted provided a window into His nature. If Moses had been content with only God’s power, he could have accepted the presence of an angel and been victorious in his efforts (Exod. 33:15). But Moses wanted to experience more. He wanted to experience God Himself, not just God’s activity. Some today, like the Israelites, are content to experience God’s activity without ever coming to know God. They are the recipients of answered prayer, yet they never come to know the Provider. They are blessed by God’s providential care over their families, their homes, and their jobs, yet they are satisfied not knowing the One from whom the blessings come. They benefit from God’s protection, yet they never become acquainted with the Protector. Have you come to know God more personally as a result of your experiences with Him? As you observe the acts of God, look beyond them to the revelation of His character (Gen. 22:14; John 6:35).
Psalm 103:8-10 – The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
Our Heavenly Father is the perfect parent we never had and never can be. He disciplines us, not to destroy us but rather to conform us to His will which is for our ultimate best. He will continue to discipline out of us those things which hinder our unity to Him. He allows us to suffer, not to hurt us but rather to build up our Christ-like character. He never gives us what we deserve, which is complete condemnation. In His discipline is love. Because He loves us, He disciplines us and lets us go through difficulties, always under His loving control, that we might grow to know Him, His joy, and His peace. Rejoice, even in suffering, because you know He is doing great things in your life. Yes, it is very hard to keep this perspective in the midst of trials which is why it is so important to always remind yourself of this fact during the easy times so you can be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for the hard times.
Psalm 103:11, 12 – For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
The heavens never end and neither does God’s love for us. If you travel east on the globe, you will never arrive at west (notice the Bible does not say, north to south) – God’s forgiveness for us never ends; there is nothing we can do that is not unforgivable by God if we will turn to Him in true repentance.
Psalm 103:13 – As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
The Lord does not show compassion to everyone all the time in the same way. He shows compassion to His children who honor Him as Lord. God will not be mocked. He knows who are really seeking Him as BOTH Lord and Savior.
Psalm 103:15, 16 — As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
The proud, arrogant, and rebellious seem to completely lose perspective on their lives, failing to understand that the temporal is nothing compared to the eternal which is in God’s hands.
Psalm 103:15, 16 – As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
Our time on earth is very fleeting. Our relationship with God is eternal. Invest in what lasts, without losing sight of the fact that eternal life started the day you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Our time on earth is a time to serve God here and now, planting seeds and cultivating them for eternity. Make the most of today for eternity.
Psalm 103:17, 18 — But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
God’s love is steadfast and everlasting, but it is not for everyone, contrary to what many will preach. Though God shows grace to everyone, and though His love is available to everyone, it is simply rejected by many who never really experience His love, grow in His love, and receive eternal life through His love.
Psalm 103:20, 21 — Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!”
God’s people are not the ones who say they obey His word and do His will. God’s people are not the ones who carelessly proclaim God’s grace. God’s people are the ones who truly obey and do His will. The rebellious are very quick to use words like “love” and “grace” to excuse sin. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9, 10) “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal 6:7) “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18)
Proverbs 10:4, 5 – A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
God’s word calls you to be as productive as you can, while you can, so that when you can’t produce you have something to sustain your needs and the needs of those who depend upon you.
Proverbs 10:8 – The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
God’s commands are not complicated or hard to understand. Those who debate about them or attempt to redefine them through sophisticated arguments are seeking ways to justify rebellion against God.
Proverbs 10:20 – The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
What you say reveals what is in your heart.
Proverbs 10:22 – The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
God’s commands are intended for you to have complete joy on earth (see John 15). We should obey God because we love Him, not merely to receive blessings for ourselves. However, obeying God does promote His blessings with no added sorrows. Trouble comes with wealth achieved outside of God’s will.
Proverbs 10:25 – When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.
The storms of life hit everyone, but the godly stand firm on the Rock, Jesus.
Proverbs 10:29 – The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.
God’s will is unyielding and results in blessings or curses depending on how a person responds to it. God wants us to choose blessings.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 September 2022: 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.