SUNDAY JULY 12 2020
HE CHOSE POORLY
Do you remember the line; the movie; the situation?
Last week as part of our message we discussed God’s choosing of Saul. I don’t mean to imply that God chooses poorly, quite the contrary, some of those God chooses start out well but then fade or grow weary or even turn aside before the finish line. Paul warned of such a thing in Gal. 6:9: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap is we do not lose heart.” Paul also reminded us in Phil. 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul is encouraging us to stay the course, to not look to the left or to the right but to press forward in our calling. In pressing forward there must be something pressing back against us, some opposition of will and determination that must be pushed through. We have all been witness to the ruins along the roads of good intentions. Persons, called and equipped and gifted, litter the way. Those who started out well but, in the end, are now strewn about their own altars of greed, avarice, power and immorality. Instead of offering themselves as living sacrifices upon the Potter’s wheel, they chose the man-made altars of recognition and importance – they choose poorly. Such was the case with Saul. We cannot lay all the blame upon Saul’s broad shoulders, for the people of Israel demanded of God a king other than the LORD. So, as we will see it was not just that Saul choose poorly, but rather the people choose poorly.
This section of Scripture reveals to us the stark difference between Samuel’s obedience verses that of the people and Saul. Listen to the prophet’s summary of his GOD-given ministry to the people. We pick up the account in 1 Samuel 12.
“Samuel said to all Israel, ‘I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.’”
The prophet of GOD only speaks what the Holy Spirit speaks through him. From the moment Samuel was a small boy, he was anointed by the LORD to speak forth the very words of GOD. He was the chosen vessel through whom the will of the LORD was revealed to the nation. Why has God chosen to have Samuel say these things about himself? It is my belief that God has demonstrated through the life of Samuel some of His own attributes. Samuel has been dedicated to Israel from the moment of his birth and he remained totally committed to Israel and to the LORD until his death. Samuel’s life demonstrates an obedience and holiness far beyond the reach of most. He honoured God’ name and His word throughout the entirety of his life. So, here he stands and reminds the people of his devotion. He stands before the people in the presence of two witnesses – the LORD and their chosen king. “Have I taken anyone’s ox?” Have I deprived anyone of their livelihood? No! “Have I taken anyone’s donkey?” Have I usurped anyone’s ministry? No! “Have I defrauded anyone?” With ‘holy water vials,’ or worthless membership privileges, or baseless babbles? No! “Have I oppressed anyone?” With feelings of guilt? No! “Have I taken any bribes?” The looking the other way while co-workers in the ministry fleece the flock? No! It seems God is reminding the people how good they have had it. With GOD being their king and Samuel as His spokesman things went well for the people. The people reply that Samuel has been exemplarily in representing a holy GOD. Samuel responds by saying in effect ‘as God is my witness listen up.’ Samuel goes on to remind the people of the many times God intervened to save the people from their enemies.
1 Samuel 12:11-12 “And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you dwell safely. And when you saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, you said unto me, No; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.”
Well, here’s your king.
1 Samuel 12:17, “Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain; that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD in asking for a king.”
There is little doubt that God is not pleased with their request. During this time of the wheat harvest God is going to send terrible weather so that the harvest cannot be brought in. Remember how critical the wheat harvest is to the fulfilling of the many holy festivals.
“And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins, this evil, to ask us a king.” (verse 19)
How often Pastors hear this very thing – pray for us. “Oh, I’ve done a terrible thing Pastor, pray to your God for us.” Just like the people here when they said, “Pray unto the LORD thy God.” Not our God or my God but your God! The people here were fearful of losing the harvest and fearful of losing their lives not repentant for rejecting God. Sometimes you want to shake people by the ears. Turn from your wicked ways, seek God for yourself, then . . .
Samuel’s reply? “Fear not:” Even though you have done this wickedness God will not forsake you if you don’t turn aside from seeking Him with your whole heart. This is personal folks! We each need to seek Him, personally, one-to-one. It may seem nice and comforting to have a go-between, a prophet or a pastor, but there is really no need of such intermediaries. We need only The Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ who intercedes for each one of us.
As this section continues in 1 Samuel 12:23 we read, “Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way:”
As with Samuel, a Pastor may have feelings of frustration for having burdens misplaced upon them, still they will continue to pray for the flock. But, while they do so, they will continue “to teach the good and right way.”
As we venture further along in 1 Samuel we come to chapter 13 the beginning of Saul choosing poorly. Beginning at 1 Samuel 13:8.
“And he [Saul] tarried seven days according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, ‘Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offering. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, ‘What have you done?’ And Saul said, ‘Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come in the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, the Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, ‘Thou hast done foolishly: [he chose poorly] thou has not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD would have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD had sought him a man of his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou has not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.”
Notice a few things here.
Saul was instructed to wait seven days until Samuel came. When Samuel was late, Saul took it upon himself to begin the ‘service’ without him. Have you ever attended a special series of services where an anointed guest speaker was scheduled to be the key-note speaker? This guest speaker being one who has a very unique ministry, perhaps has written some instructional books of a topic of new revelation? As he runs late, the host pastor gets jittery and begins the service. It would be fine if he begins leading in worship but often the host pastor will stand and start to extol his ‘insights’ into the topic that the guest will bring forward. He makes things sound as if he himself had similar insights from way back. He is, in fact, stealing the show, and stealing the revelation knowledge given to the coming speaker. He is usurping the gift of revelation appointed to another for his own glorification.
Well, Saul, was usurping the authority of the office of priest here. As king, he must NEVER usurp the office of priest. There can be only one who is both King and Priest – the Lord Jesus Christ. Saul has stepped across the line in a most horrendous manner. Not only has he infringed upon another’s anointing, he has misrepresented Christ! Having been caught with ‘his hand in the cookie jar,’ out come the excuses. Oh, you were late; Oh, the people were wandering off; Oh, the Philistines were gathering; and Oh supplications have not been made, (where were you Samuel.) So “I forced myself” because you Samuel ‘dropped the ball.’
This was the first of three instances where Saul chose poorly.
We learn of the other two failings of Saul in 1 Samuel 15.
Saul was commanded of the LORD to utterly destroy all of the Amalekites including all of the animals. When the LORD delivered the Amalekites into his hands Saul chose to spare the life of the king Agag. It is an interesting connection that the lineage of Agag would lead eventually to Haman, the villain during the time of Esther. Had Saul obeyed the LORD’s command perhaps there would not have been a Haman!
1 Samuel 15:10-11, “Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying. It repented me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.” God has set Saul aside and it was heart breaking to the prophet. When individuals receive a prophecy spoken over them concerning some ministry or call, it is a prophetic possibility, and not necessarily a prophetic promise. Obedience is always the essential ingredient. Saul went ahead and offered a sacrifice rather than being obedient to his call. 1 Samuel 15:22, “And Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Obedience is much better than sacrifice! ‘Oh Lord if you do such and such I will give you . . .”No! do what you are told and what you know to be right. Stop trying to bribe God.
His second failing gives way to one of my favourite verses that causes me to smile. Saul was commanded to kill all the animals and to not take any goods from the defeated Amalekites. We pick up the story in 1 Samuel 15:9 “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuge that they destroyed utterly.”
This was the time that God had set Saul aside and Samuel cried the whole night. The next morning Samuel went to meet with Saul and we read the following. “And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, ‘I have performed the commandment of the LORD.’ And Samuel said, ‘What meanest then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of oxen which I hear?’” Disobedience has a way of being revealed in the ears of others. Long before the sin is seen in all its concrete ugliness, its sound has gone out into the realms of the Spirit. It echoes about the halls of heaven and the hearts of the faithful like so much bleating and lowing. Saul chose poorly and he chose poorly regarding the One to try to fool. You may be able to fool some for a time, and even yourself for a season but there is One who is not fooled.
1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected thee from being king.”
We are faced with many choices in life. God once said to Israel in Deuteronomy that He has set before them a choice of life or death, and that He urged them to choose life. Every day we face the same choices. We can choose a road or action that will bring death to our work and efforts or we can chose His way, a way that leads to life, both now and for evermore. The decisions we make today will determine so much. We have the word of God within via the Holy Spirit and without with the Bible. I encourage us dear friends that we chose to let the word dwell in us richly so that we may not sin against the LORD. (Col. 3:16) Saul was gifted, anointed, chosen and equipped and yet disobedience nullified everything. God allowed Samuel to delay his arrival to Saul in order to test Saul’s faithfulness. He got jittery, and couldn’t wait. He pushed his own agenda, and stepped on another’s anointing. God’s timing is always perfect and well worth the wait.
My prayer for us all is as according to Col. 1:10-11,
“that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understand; that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
May you choose wisely in all that you put your heart and mind to, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Almighty God, You are the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the stars, the moons, the planets, and the vast expanse that only You know. We praise and celebrate Your Goodness and Your Great Love. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who leads us into all Truth. Thank You for Jesus who died that we may have Eternal Life. There is no One like You Lord. You are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The one true Living God. Hallelujah!
Father, give us this day our daily bread: spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. You alone are our Healer. Your Kingdom come, Lord, and Your will be done in us, in every area of our lives, as it is in Heaven. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. For Your Kingdom is the only reality that matters; You are the All-Powerful One; the Source of Life and all good things.
Dear Father, we thank You for the summer holiday breaks. We appreciate teachers, who have worked so hard in preparing children and young adults into achieving their life aspirations and goals over the academic year, even as we have progressed through lockdowns in various stages. As we engage in the summer holidays, Lord, we pray that You will give parents the guidance they need on how to look after their children during this period. Help the children and young people honour their parents and/or guardians in the Lord, for this is right. Let this be a special time of bonding and reflection, as well as a time of appreciating one another, this we ask in Jesus’ name.
Oh Lord, we pray that during this summer holiday, You will guide us so that each day we can demonstrate Your love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness and kindness. Teach us self-control, so that we will say no to temptations that may come our way. We pray that during this summer period, the spirit of frustration, anger and arguments will be destroyed in Jesus Name. We pray that siblings will find creative ways to love and not hate each other, in Jesus’ name. To God be the glory!
Lord, help us to remain safe during this summer holiday. We pray this prayer, because many will be looking for things to do that may go against Your Word and Your Ways. We pray that as many children and young people become bored, we declare, in Your Name, that Satan who comes to kill, steal and destroy, will be held captive during this summer holiday. We pray that through You Lord, many children and young people will experience life in all its fullness. To God be the glory!
Proverbs 16:27, Jeremiah 29:11
We pray that as everyone enjoys the blessings of the summer holiday that this summer break will be one that is productive for children, young people, teachers and parents alike. We pray that the hands of each one of us will not be idle, because “idle hands are the devil’s workshop and idle lips are his mouthpiece”. Help us to remember the words that You said to Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have towards you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. We pray that during this summer holiday, Lord, You will establish Your plans for each one of us and especially for our young people. In Jesus’ name.
We thank You for Your Word and Your Unfailing Love. We pray right now for Your divine protection and blessings over those families who travel distances near or far during the summer holidays. Please watch over them as we put our trust and confidence in You. During this summer holiday, we choose to “trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; In all our ways we will acknowledge You and our path shall be directed.” Help us to make room for You Lord each and every day: room to worship and praise; room to keep Your Word before our eyes; room to write Your Word on the tablets of our hearts. To God be the glory!
Philippians 4:19, Genesis 9:3
Dear Lord, Your Word says that “my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus”. We thank You that during this special summer holiday, as we wade through the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic, we do not have to worry about the extra financial burdens placed on families, because You will supply all of our needs according to your riches in Glory. So we declare Your Word that, “every moving thing that lives shall be food for us and as you gave us the green plants, You have given us everything” Thank You Lord!
2 Corinthians 12:9
Dear Father, we pray for those in our midst, seniors, adults, children and young people who may be experiencing loneliness at this time due to the loss of a loved one; or a parent through death or perhaps separation. Lord, please come and be their God of comfort, now, and every day during the summer weeks. Comfort their hearts and let Your hand be upon them, because Your grace is sufficient for us and Your strength is made perfect in weakness. So in the weakness of everyone who is grieving, we pray for Your strength, in Jesus’ mighty name.
Thank You Father that You are the Author and Finisher of our Faith. You give us hope to carry on in every situation. You see our afflictions and are very much aware of the things that distress us. Thank You that Your eyes are always upon us and Your ears are open to our every cry. Thank You that You are always thinking about us and that You delight in our well-being. Thank You that Your Great Love is Unfailing. Hallelujah!
Lord, there is none like You. We are so grateful for who You are and ALL that You are. You keep all of Your Promises and You always make a Way where there seems to be no way. You raise up the valleys and lower the mountains for us and You make the rough places a smooth flat plain. Wow!
Father, we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to You. It is our heart’s desire to be obedient at all times, to wait upon You and do things Your Way and in Your Time. We do not want to be disobedient the way King Saul was. We pray for the grace to be disciplined and steadfast knowing that You are the rewarder of those who seek You with earnest hearts. (Hebrews 11:6) Help us to be obedient to Your Word. Help us to choose wisely, that we may finish well. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.