AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
The Bible without
Qualification, Christ without Compromise
SAMUEL AND SAUL
PRIORITIES, PURITY AND PERSPECTIVES July 18, 2010
I Samuel 15:22-23
First we briefly ponder I Samuel 15's account, and reflect on Saul's demission from the kingdom. His failure to obey, slowness to repent and abuse of truth in response to his sin came like a mounting ocean wave in a tempest. Samuel's response was categorical. It is found in the above verses.
1. REBELLION is WORSE than WITCHCRAFT
Saul did not do what he was told, which was symbolically important and actually the will of God. Amalek, as assailing body of people, had interfered with the divine procedure in salvation for man by ruthless assault on a driven Israel on its way from Egypt (Deuteronomy 25:17ff.), so hindering the whole purpose of God's sending Israel (Isaiah 43:21). There was to be no mitigation of the result for it, which threatened ALL. FAILURE to do this was just the beginning. Saul's disobedience and alteration of his terms of reference in this mission, was not only wrong; it inherited, in a crucial setting, the risk of all disobedience: wrong in itself, it was also perilous in portent.
As to rebellion, consider in
different degrees and even strata: Jonah, David, Judas.
The extent of David's lament for his sin is seen in Psalm 51! God loves sincerity. As to Judas, his merciless 'bowels' were to be literally exposed (Acts 1:18, Philippians 2:1).
Reverting to Saul, in the end he actually DID consult a witch! (I Samuel 15:22-23, 28:3ff.).
2. STUBBORNNESS is like IDOLATRY (and INIQUITY)
Straying King Saul, after failing in his commission, not only blessed Samuel as if he himself were one who had obeyed, but was slow to realise his sin. Thus Samuel reminded him of the noise of the NON-SLAIN animals! Saul not only blamed the people for taking them alive, but in I Samuel 15:20 he even 'adjusts' his orders as if he had kept to his mandate! Had he not 'brought back' the Amalekite King!
Samuel's response in I Samuel 15:26 is fateful! YOU have rejected the word of the Lord and HE has rejected you from being King. Samuel was slow to implement this removal of Saul from the post of King, but it had to be done. Rebellion rejects God's power direct; stubbornness essentialises rebellion. Persistence in error both comes from sin and leads to it. Consider Samson's plight when insisting on Delilah, despite her manifest betrayals. He got off lightly in that he only lost his life, while fulfilling his mission in doing so.
3. TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE
1) the misuse of sacrifice
in Roman Catholic Mass:
better obey than create sacrifices (Hebrews 9:12-28, 10:10-14, SMR pp. 1086ff.).
2) the necessity to avoid abuse of sacrifice by doing it without Heart (Isaiah 1:13-20).
Sacrifice avails only when
a) God appoints it (Romans 3:23-25,Galatians 1:6-9).
b) faith accepts it (Romans 10:9).
c) it is applied (John 6:47ff., Hebrews 4:2), not merely abused (Hebrews 10:22).
When it IS applied, faith receives eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12), which is what is on offer (John 10:9,27-28). There is the objective application, that Christ's own body did not rot but rose (so that He is very much alive and alert to your prayers in faith); and likewise, there is the subjective application, in that you take all this to heart, and act on it, like driving a car instead of merely staring at it.
Faith trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2), it "rejoices with trembling" (Psalm 2), and hence does not despise His mouth or ignore His lips, but acts. If beginning to fail, it is moved to repent to that the believer calls on Him who gave it, to deliver (Psalm 107:27-31): if it is there, it WILL act (Matthew 14:30); and according to the need, so will He (Psalm 145:18-19, Mark 11:23-24), who having loved and given salvation, will let nothing in time or space sever ties (Romans 8:38-39, John 5:24). God never fails, delights in mercy (Zephaniah 3:5, Micah 7:19ff.) is a Rock to those who put their trust in Him: sent His only begotten Son that we might stand on His foundation, and rely on Him: there is no other Rock (Psalm 62, II Samuel 22:32, Isaiah 44:8). It is useless in this as in all things, for those who trust in the Lord to dismiss His word: as Saul did, let alone to be obstinate in doing so.
Obedience is better; it is far better, for it is a true fruit of the tree planted by the Lord (Matthew 15:13-14), which will not be pulled up, and it is in such that the Lord is pleased to give the power of His Spirit for their tasks as He appoints them (Acts 5:32), in normative relationship with Himself.