GOOD MORNING, SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are 1 Samuel 15-17
I want to start by backtracking a bit near the end of chapter 14.
1 Samuel 14:47 states 47 When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned he routed them.
Saul had enemies on every side. His kingdom was surrounded by enemy nations. If Israel had obeyed the Father and cleared the land of its inhabitants before taking possession of it, he would not have been in this position. Rather than do that, though, they decided to just move in among them. E V E R Y problem plaguing Israel could have been avoided by them simply walking in obedience.
And truly, today as it was then, walking in obedience to the Father is far simpler than keeping step with the world.
Lest we think the Father isn’t paying attention to our behavior, 1 Samuel 15:2 sure is a wakeup call! YHWH says “I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came out of Egypt.” Some translations say “I have witnessed” and some simply say “I will punish” but the lesson is the same. No one pulls one over on the Father.
1 Samuel 15:3 is another difficult passage for reasons we have addressed before. Bear in mind that in these cultures, children were raised with a hatred of the enemies of their nation. It was ingrained in them from birth. Similar to how we occasionally see horrifying footage of young boys of a radical faith practice preparing for war and gleefully telling of how they will kill their enemies. They have been desensitized to it. Just as some members of previous generations didn’t think our culture was racist for having segregation and other atrocities – because it was what they were born into, surrounded with, and all of their authority figures told them it was okay. It is a form of generational brainwashing and yes, some were strong enough to step out of that but by and large, people tend to believe the values and “truths” that are handed down through generations. YHWH’s Word shows us that humans have a tendency to hold tighter to tradition than they do truth. Another factor is that in most of these cultures, children were honor bound to seek vengeance on anyone who took the life of their parent. So if they left the children, in a matter of years there would be another war rising up.
1 Samuel 15:6 Saul directed the Kenites to depart from the Amalekites. Although the Kenites had been kind to Israel and were going to be shown grace, they needed to separate themselves from the Amalekites or else they would face the same punishment, regardless of their personal behavior. There is a great lesson in this for us.
1 Samuel 15:8-9 Do you see what Saul did? He did NOT OBEY the Father. However, he did obey YHWH a little bit, and we see in 1 Samuel 15:13 that Saul felt partial obedience was just as good as complete obedience. How does YHWH view partial obedience? He tells us:
1 Samuel 15:11 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.
YHWH views partial obedience as disobedience. Saul was given a clear directive but He decided to override the wisdom of YHWH with his own wisdom. He decided that his way was better than what the very word of YHWH told Him to do.
He chose his own understanding over YHWH’s truth.
How does YHWH view this? Samuel tells us:
Because you have rejected the word of YHWH, He has also rejected you from being king. – 1 Samuel 15:23]
When we go our own way, do things our own way, decide that we know a better or more suitable way to follow the instructions of YHWH (oftentimes this “better way” is to disregard the instructions altogether) the Father sees this as a direct rejection of Him.
Why do we do this? I have a few blunt answers to that but I’ll reserve them for my own family’s Bible study and give you the more polished “company” answer instead. Actually, I’ll let Saul tell you in his own words.
“I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandments of YHWH and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” 1 Samuel 15:24
- A few things I want to point out here: “the people” being referenced are YHWH’s chosen people.
- Applying this wisdom in our time, as gentiles, what is the equivalent in our culture to “the people” being referenced here?
- Who did Saul fear MORE than YHWH? The people.
- Who did Saul obey INSTEAD of obeying the voice of YHWH? The voice of the people.
This is something that merits some turning over in our minds today. Deep reflection and conversation with the Father is in order.
Do we fear the opinions of people so much that we are willing to live in disobedience to YHWH?
We see something that may seem like a contradiction in the character of YHWH if we were just surface reading as most folks do. But, having built our foundational knowledge of Scripture we are equipped some some knowledge of YHWH that causes us to pause and reexamine the passage instead. The verses are 1 Samuel 15:11, 1 Samuel 15:29, and 1 Samuel 15:35
Essentially the text has the Father saying that He regrets making Saul king, and then in the center verse Samuel says that YHWH is not a man that He has regrets. The text seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth but if we go back to context and original meaning we can see a different view.
Rather than regret, some texts have YHWH saying He repents of making Saul king. Repent, but that is for sinners right? In our modern language repent is a very diluted word. Nowadays it just means a momentary sorrow over some wrongdoing but oftentimes no change takes place. In the case of a Believer, this is generally due to the lack of the Holy Spirit in one’s life (we know them by their fruits, good trees don’t bear rotten fruit). However, the original meaning of repent means to turn from something. YHWH is stating that He has turned from Saul. He knew this was going to happen, there is no regret, but He is now turning from Saul.
Why did YHWH make Saul a king to begin with? Israel cried out for a king and in doing so, Israel rejected YHWH as their king. Sometimes, rather than give us what we need, YHWH gives us what we deserve – there is still a grace in that as it may bring us to our knees and become another opportunity to see the error of our ways and return to Him.
More of my random observations:
YHWH clearly instructs Saul on exactly what He is to do with Amalek (Note that Amalek was the First Nation to attack Israel and they are the descendants of Esau) – but rather than put to death everything as God had commanded, Saul kept the best sheep and calves, claiming later that it was to sacrifice to YHWH.
I LOVE Samuel’s response to Saul saying he had done all that the lord had commanded. I imagine one eyebrow raised and a hand on his hip as he says:
“Then why do I hear the bleating of sheep and lowing of oxen?”
Samuel further points out Sauls disobedience in:
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?”
Again, we see: What is YHWH’s love language? Obedience.
Now I know that seems like a weird thing to talk about when it comes to the creator of the universe, love languages. But knowing someone’s love language makes a HUGE difference in how we are able to effectively show them we love them.
When Ricky and I got married, a few months in, we did a love language survey and it was a game changer! You see, we had no idea that we had different love languages. Ricky’s love language is words of affirmation and mine is acts of service. Well, here Ricky was telling me he loved me and saying all these nice things and I was inwardly rolling my eyes and wondering why he was doing that all the time. It made no sense to me because I was more of a show me don’t tell me type of person.
And here I was cooking all these nice meals and folding his laundry and such and to him, he still didn’t feel loved through my actions. Why? I was speaking to him in my language and he was speaking to me in his and neither one of them made sense to the other.
So we switched horses so to speak because now I understood what made Ricky feel loved and he understood what made me feel loved.
God’s love language is obvious just a few minutes into reading His word and we see it time and again. When you truly love someone, you show them in ways that make them feel loved, not in the ways that make you feel loved. The Father does not want our knockoff version of faith: lipservice and portions of our heart and attendance at the most comfortable congregation conveniently located and scheduled to suit our life. He wants our time, He wants our trust, and He wants our obedience.
There is a vast difference between having faith in YHWH and being faithful to YHWH.
At this point, at least Saul was smart enough to know he’d messed up but his main concern seems to be saving face as he tells Samuel to go with him so he can bow down before the Lord. And did you catch that part where he built a monument for himself after his great victory? We are going to see the opposite of that attitude in Chapter 17, and I talk about that a little at the bottom of this post.
He finally admits he has disobeyed YHWH but refuses to see what a bad position he is in as a result.
This is a classic example direct from a parable of Jesus in Matthew 13, the Sower and the Seed. Saul’s ground was rocky. The seed shot up quickly but the roots didn’t go deep and as a result the plant didn’t thrive for long.
After more pleading for Samuel to return with him, Samuel responds:
“I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
You have rejected the word of YHWH. Ugh. Gut punch.
Takeaways from todays reading are, again, details matter to YHWH.
Obedience is better to Him than our sacrifices. Getting dressed up and giving Him half a day once a week may be a good thing – but if we do it in lieu of obeying Him and living according to His word, it’s useless.
AND NOW the opposite example: 1 Samuel 17 – notice, time and again, that David’s confidence is not in himself but in YHWH. What a different outcome we see for him as a result!
Pay attention to all of the times the Holy Spirit descends on and moves in today’s reading. We’ve seen the Holy Spirit indwelling in people since the very beginning and will continue to see it. As I’ve mentioned, this is a direct contradiction to a popular doctrinal belief that states that the Holy Spirit didn’t come until the “new” testament. But who needs manmade doctrine when we have the Father’s truth!? Don’t settle for less than He wants to give you.
1 Samuel 16:7 “For YHWH sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance but YHWH looks on the heart.”
I don’t know about y’all but every time I read the Bible I feel like the Father has given me a new scrub brush and is helping me scrub and scrub all those stains on my heart so that I can be clean in His eyes!
We praise you, Father, for making us new. For teaching us how to follow you in spirit and in truth with our whole hearts. You ask us to return to you and we answer “WE ARE RETURNING!”
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!