I was reading in 1 Samuel chapter 15 on Friday. It was the chapter that contained the all-familiar verses “To obey is better then sacrifice” and, of course, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” I noted a few things I never have before.
Before I go into the main context of what I’m blogging for I thought it was rather interesting, rather, frightening, the extent to which God thinks of sins that are familiar or “not a big deal” to us.
Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.
Stubbornness as idolatry.
Witchcraft and idolatry both are heinous sins in the eyes of God. So much so that the entire Bible finishes with that those that practice these things will have a part in the lake of fire that burns forever and ever, where the worm dies not…
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
Heinous sins! A slap in the face of the Almighty who has said over and over that He is God alone, His glory He will share with none!
“Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.”Hosea 13:4
If God considers rebellion and stubbornness as seriously as those sins that are going to hell, how dare we consider them any lighter?
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
What scares me is that, yes, I was a teenager too, in fact, I’m mom to two pre-teens. I am aware and familiar with the “teenage phase”. But how is it so belittled what is so grotesque in God’s eyes? Pardon my own transgressions Lord. All sin is sin in God’s eyes. No sin to Him is greater than another. Let it be so to us too!
But I continue. I intend on pointing to another thing from this chapter that, well, pretty near broke my heart and convicted me terribly. I’ve had people point out that I am too sensitive, overly emotional, but in all honesty, I am thankful God has softened me to the point of being a “crybaby” so that I am more sensitive to His voice, corrections and “visions of rapture”, as the song-writer said.
I am also thankful that I am either blessed, or cursed, with a vivid imagination. If nothing else, it helps me envision, and feel “in” the story, it helps me picture much better then just monotonously reading. I do not claim that my imagination is true, as some things in Scripture aren’t clear, or told, but in this case, I will go ahead.
The Lord had told Samuel that it was wicked for the children of Israel to ask for a king, since He was their King, and more than powerful and merciful enough to be their God and Savior. Yet, He complied and told Samuel it was Saul who would become their king. Samuel was faithful to relate to the people that they had done wickedly, and obliged them and God in anointing Saul. I think over time Samuel became affectionate toward Saul, maybe he taught him about God, maybe he gave him advice. Maybe he took the man under his wing. I don’t know, but I know that Saul broke Samuel’s heart. (1 Samuel 11,12)
God told Saul to fight against the enemies of Israel, and to spare none as they had done so wickedly against the Lord and HIs people. He was to spare neither human or animal. (1 Samuel 15) To quote Eli, “It is the Lord, let Him do what He sees right.” (1 Samuel 3:18) Fact of the matter is, whether our flesh wants to admit it or not, HE IS GOD and EVERYTHING He does, whether we understand completely or not, is just and holy. God is such a merciful God, it still blows my mind. Over and over He extends mercy and forgiveness and over and over He is spurned, even today. It is just of God to pull His Spirit. He is altogether perfect and holy, in ALL His doings.
Saul had other ideas. He and his men not only saved the king, but also the choice goods, animals and else.
God is not mocked. Nothing is hid from His knowledge. So He tells Samuel, who hurries to Saul to rebuke.
And Saul turns into Adam… In excuses, that is. “The people did it!”
I’m actually curious if I’m the only one when reading the Word shakes my head in earnest and throws up my hands in frustration. “Are you serious, Saul?!”
The fact is, though, that there is no such thing as the blame game with God. He knows man’s deeds, man’s words, man’s heart, man’s thoughts, man’s motives.
NOTHING is hid from Him.
I was also confounded by how many times he referred to God as “your God”. Hmmm. Maybe it’s just me.
And also confounded how it seemed Saul just wanted pardon to save face. Especially before the people. If I “read between the lines” I can almost point out a “Don’t embarrass me!” in 1 Samuel 15:30.
Oh Samuel! I think if it had been me I would have been the one wagging my finger, turning around to everyone, “Told you so! Told you so!” Or worse… “You made your bed, lie in it.”
In all honesty I was surprised to find the chapter summarized as, Samuel mourned after Saul.
I speak to myself. I don’t know how many times I have felt “godly anger” that might have begun “righteously” but ended up in sin. The cross-leg approach. Well, can’t help some people. They want to sin, let em sin. Nothing I can do about it.
When I reach down into my reservoir of shame I pull out my husband. I lost count of how many times I told my family, “Even God said to *so and so* (did I mention my mind is going?) ‘Pray not for these people’.” I was nearly as expert at quoting, “Shake the dust off your feet…”
It was Friday I realized there’s a delicate line.
Firstly, we are right to expose unfruitful works of darkness. We are to judge righteous judgment. If we see something not in line with God’s word, we have to speak out. So many have been influenced or compromise by twisted Scriptures, and false doctrines. Deception is rampant. I believe I’ve mentioned that a few times, and will likely continue to do so.
“ And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:11
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” John 7:24
A recent example would be that I found on Facebook a post by a music company that has a Christian channel that posted that a certain worldly singer was basically turning Christian because she used the word “Jesus” in a song. (Something along that line). The Christian world (at least those that were online at that given moment) blew up the post with “Likes” and “Amen’s”. I was, on the other hand, flabbergasted. And have every right. Because not all that say they are Israel, are Israel. Just because someone calls themselves Christian, just because someone uses the Name of Jesus in a song, or in a book, does not make them saved. It’s by their fruits you will know them. Deception is rampant!
It is wise to point out this folly. It’s a horrid thing when someone in influence causes others to stumble. We must be a holy and separated people. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord!
But we can’t stop there. We should seek to restore people to fellowship. We must point them back to Christ. In Christ there is mercy to restore!
I just feel the need to point that this above point is not for us to become like them. To dress as they dress and speak as they speak. If we as the Church are become as the world with the guise of “reaching them”, how is this righteous living? It doesn’t work.
” Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Galatians 6:1-3
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:3,10
Which brings me back to Samuel. I noticed something else. He didn’t gloat over him. He didn’t laugh and look down on his weakness. He didn’t mock his stumbling.
Where’s our excuse?
Saul adamantly rejected the command of God, a clear order, and yet godly Samuel still grieved over him.
Which brings me to my next point.
Our prayer lives.
Believe me, I am aware that there are gifts given to all of us, and God is the Giver. I know. I know some have the gift of prayer and intercession. Some people can earnestly pour their hearts out to God and it takes them hours in their prayer closets. And some can only say “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!”
The time amount of our prayers isn’t what matters, it’s the sincerity.
But since when is it ok to be so selfish? I look at Samuel, I look at the finale of the chapter. Samuel cried out all night to God for Saul. He… well, who was first, and possibly last (I told you my mind… right?) to sincerely intercede and stand in the gap? I’m thinking Abraham for Sodom and Gomorrah. Which blows my mind because of the wickedness of that city! How can you pray for such sick people, Abe? But he did! That’s the heart and mind of Christ, I believe. The burden for souls. God is not willing that any should perish. Where is our crying out for the lost, no matter how wicked?
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Jude 20-23
Again, I speak to myself. Why do I grow so weary and tired of interceding? It’s a sobering, convicting thought, especially when I think that 80% of my prayer list is my FAMILY. What about our nation? What about our government? Our missionaries? The persecuted?
Lord, give us a burden to pray! Give me… Give ME the burden to pray. And faith that can move mountains to KNOW You are able.
And give me a glimpse of eternity. Give me a heart of eternity. Press eternity upon me.
Have we used the word “hell” so many times in day to day conversations that it becomes something trivial to us now? Lord, forbid.
Jesus spoke more on hell then heaven. Not because He was morbid, but because it’s a real place.
Hell was only ever created for the devil and his angels but because men CHOOSE to continue in sin, it is just of God to render judgment. Never for one minute think that the Holy One of Israel is unfair!
If we spent time pondering what we know about hell from God’s word, I think that would stir up more desire to pray.
God, I don’t want ANYONE going there, much less my own family!
I realize this is most likely my lengthiest blog yet. Sometimes it’s hard to get a point across within a certain word limit. I will stop here…
Over the weekend I read through what my commentary had to offer as insights as to this chapter and let my eyes skip ahead to the next.
Isn’t that just like God?
When it feels like our hearts are ripped out of our chests, when it feels like the burden is too heavy, when it feels like we can’t bear it anymore… He’s right there.
I’ll read it tomorrow, but it just so happens that this next chapter is the one where God tells Samuel to go looking for Israel’s next king. Which just so happens to be David, the man after God’s own heart.
And Samuel’s, too, I’d reckon.