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Saturday, February 10, 2024

King Saul--As Long As It Glorifies God

We read in Rom. 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (NKJV)  The NIV translates the first part of that verse as follows, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.”

Paul, the writer, had reference to the writings found in the Old Testament when he made that statement.  As we read the Old Testament we need to be thinking what is in this passage or account that I am reading that is a lesson for me today?  What is in it for my learning?  We should never read the Old Testament just as history but rather as history that is meant to teach and leave lessons for those of us today.

Every Bible student who has been a student any length of time is aware of Samuel’s encounter with King Saul as Saul returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites.  Saul had been commanded by God through Samuel to go and put to death every living Amalekite and to destroy everything they had. (1 Sam. 15:3)  He disobeyed sparing the life of King Agag, king of the Amalekites, and the best of the livestock bringing them back to Israel. (1 Sam. 15:9)  Samuel in his meeting with Saul utters the famous statement I here quote:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  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 also has rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:22-23 NKJV)

The word “stubbornness” found in the NKJV here is an interesting word.  In the ESV and NET translations the Greek word is translated as “presumption,” as “insolence” in the LITV, “insubordination” in the NAS, and “arrogance” in the NIV.  The meaning seems to be that Saul was determined to do his will rather than God’s.  Would he dare do it?  He did but why?  Surely he had some fear of God.

It seems Saul had the same idea many men have today who believe they are pleasing God all the while being disobedient to his word.  They consider themselves godly men and would defend themselves as Saul did before Samuel; at least he did as long as he could. (1 Sam. 15:20-21)  The idea is prevalent today that we can do whatever we want to in our Christian work and worship just so we give glory to God, or as some might say as long as God receives the glory.

That was exactly the case with King Saul.  God said to destroy all these animals but Saul’s thinking is we will take the best back and sacrifice them to God back in Israel.  He will receive glory in our doing so; he will be pleased.  There is arrogance, presumption, insolence, call it what you will, in that kind of thinking.  We will disobey God to please him.  Sounds ridiculous does it not but that is the way much of Christendom thinks today, just like King Saul.

The Bible could not be any clearer than it is on the subject of homosexuality as all know but we presume to know more than God about it and think he will be pleased when we condone it and receive into fellowship the unrepentant individual practicing it as long as we say “he is in a committed relationship.”  We see ourselves as showing love and thus God must surely be pleased with our actions.  Since our motivation is good, as was Saul’s, we can disobey God and he will be pleased.

Paul’s teaching on women preachers and leaders of the church again is as clear as can be.  Read 1 Cor. 14:34-37.  Paul closes that section by saying, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 14:37 NKJV)  Read also 1 Tim. 2:12-13.  But we are like Saul.  We will do our own thing and presume a little, be a little arrogant, be a little insolent.  We will give God glory in the way we see fit--through women preaching and being church leaders.

I never have figured out how a woman is going to be an elder, a bishop, a pastor, in view of the fact that the qualification for such is that the individual must be “the husband of one wife.” (1 Tim. 3:2 NKJV)  But when we are like Saul and make our own rules anything goes and anything does go today in the religious world, even among those mankind calls Christians whether they be that or not.

Whatever we want to do we can justify ourselves as King Saul justified himself before Samuel.  We can justify ourselves and get by with it today for we have no prophets around, no apostles, no inspired men to rebuke us.  However, we will get by for only so long for “all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13 NKJV)

Samuel said this stubbornness, arrogance, presumption (depending on your translation) was as iniquity and idolatry.  Why would he say that?  The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament in dealing with this verse makes an excellent point.  I quote, “All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god. So that all manifest opposition to the word and commandment of God is, like idolatry, a rejection of the true God.”  I see no way around that conclusion.

Saul’s sin was in actuality rebellion against God.  There was a new god in Israel--King Saul.  That was his sin and it is our sin when we decide that for all practical purposes we are going to make the Bible mean what we want it to mean despite what it says.  We will explain all of those old troublesome passages away to fit modern-day culture, our woke society.  We will make the Bible into a living document (a document that grows and changes as suits us to go along with the changing culture).  Why?  Because we are not satisfied with it the way it is.

God today speaks to us through his inspired word.  When we take it and play around with it foot loose and fancy free we do not honor him.  One cannot honor God nor give him glory by doing the opposite of what he has said to do.  Have we learned the lesson from that which was written “aforetime” (Rom. 15:4 KJV) as it pertains to the lesson we should have learned from King Saul’s experience?  I fear we have not.

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