Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for April 10, 1 Sam 13-14

Today's readings are 1 Sam 13-14. Tomorrow's are 1 Sam 15-17. 

Jonathan, Saul's son, starts a war with the Philistines, believing God will give them a victory, but Israel flees in fear.

Saul goes to Gilgal to wait for Samuel, as Samuel told him to. But, Saul gets impatient and makes a sacrifice, something, even as king, he is not qualified to do. Because of his disobedience, Saul tells Samuel that God will replace him as king. Notice that this does not occur immediately, but will, surely come to pass. Some folks believe time will cause God to forget or soften His position on sin. God's holiness is not only perfect but timeless. God's justice is holy and timeless as well. It demands payment for sin. Unless Saul repents or someone stands in for him, he will answer for his sin. Saul's early loss of the kingdom seems harsh. As we will see, it is wise, as Saul will continue to struggle with issues of the heart.

In any event, Saul's refusal to listen to Samuel sets a precedent and a pattern for future kings and leaders who will disregard the prophets God sends to them. 

God continues to show grace and grants military victories in spite of Saul's stumbling. Jonathan is raised up as a powerful warrior and wise leader. Jonathan attacks while Saul stays behind (1 Sam 14:1-14). When Jonathan meets with some success, Saul, still watching from behind, calls for the Ark to be brought up to insure victory and plans to join the battle once the ark arrives.  Seeing that Jonathan is being blessed and victory is all but  assured, he gets impatient and joins the fray before the Ark arrives. Just prior to the end of the battle, all the ones who ran previously join in. It seems Saul and many of his subjects are opportunists, perfectly willing to join the fight after the risk and danger of defeat is alleviated but fearful when victory is not so plainly evident. They're not really trusting in God. Rather, they are evaluating the situation before making a decision. God graciously gives Israel the victory anyway.

Saul makes a foolish decision to order his armies to fast until the victory is complete, vowing that any man who eats will die. Jonathan, unaware of the order, eats. Jonathan is willing to die and Saul, amazingly, is willing to execute him. The people, however, rise up and protest. Jonathan is spared. The people seem wiser than their impulsive, prideful king.

Because of his disobedience, Saul never fully defeats the Philistines. Nevertheless, God continues to bless Saul with military victories and a huge family. This should not be mistaken for God's approval of all Saul does. In the final analysis, God is being faithful to his promise to bless and protect His people. He is using Saul to do that...for the time being. Saul will still have to answer for His sins. 

We should never see worldly success as evidence of a godly heart. 

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