Thursday, March 21, 2019 -
“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:76).
God did not believe Israel should have a king, because the Lord their God was their king (I Samuel 12:12). Yet He relented and directed Samuel to anoint Saul as their king. Saul was anointed by the Lord. He had everything going for him. The Spirit of God came upon him mightily so that he prophesied among the people (I Samuel 10:10), and began to gain great military victories over the Philistines (I Samuel 13). But God warned the people, and the new king, that should they not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against His command, the hand of the Lord will be against them, as it was against their fathers (I Samuel 12:15). He tells them later in I Samuel 12:20-21 not to turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with their whole heart! God reiterates through His prophet Samuel: “And you must not turn aside, for then you will go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they are futile.”
Wow, this really hit home for me when I read it. If we are not following the Lord, we are pursuing futile things! I must examine the way I use my time to determine if anything is futile – from God’s perspective! That is a sobering thought. In today’s world, I can name many things that capture our attention, time, thoughts and electronics which can be classified as futile! And God is saying that is a sin! The alternative of “going after futile things” is found in I Samuel 12:24: “Fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”
Yet it wasn’t long after that Saul caused God to become very angry with him, causing God to remove His anointing and Spirit, and terrorizing him with an evil spirit (I Sam. 15:26,28,35; 16:13-14).
Leaders especially should examine the sin that grieved God’s heart so tremendously so that He should remove His blessing and replace it with a curse.
First, Saul presumed upon God, not waiting on Samuel to make the sacrifice and doing so himself (I Samuel 13:8-14). God had made Saul king, and so Saul assumed on himself the priestly duties in defiance of God. And justified it to himself (I Samuel 13:11-12). In I Samuel 15:1-21, we find that Saul outright disobeyed God’s orders, and then, in verses 15 and 21, he again makes excuses for his sin. Hence Samuel’s admonition in verse 22, that obedience is better than sacrifice!
We also see that Saul was overtaken by the sin of pride by building a monument to himself (I Samuel 15:12). And Saul was tempted and overcome by greed (I Samuel 15:9, 19).
Each of these traps was easy for Saul to fall into because of his position as king. He was answerable only to God, yet he became completely rebellious through his presumption, disobedience, pride, and greed. And then, he made excuses and justified himself rather than admitting his sin and repenting to God.
These are all grave lessons for each of us, particularly leaders who have little accountability. It is easy to become prideful of God’s anointing on our lives – or the way He is using us in ministry or influence. Before you know it, we may be building monuments to ourselves, presuming to know God’s thoughts and not seeking his will, maybe making excuses when God or others bring that pride to our attention, and eventually allowing outright disobedience to God’s commands and greed creep into our lives.
Just remember, as God told Samuel in the verse I quoted in the opening, God sees our hearts. So let’s examine our lives for needless futility, pride, disobedience, greed, presumption, and justification of our sinfulness! God dealt severely with Saul because of his unrepentance.