I’m That Guy at Times

March 30, 2023 at 1:14 PM Leave a comment

Have you ever been reading through Scripture and come to a point where someone who seriously followed the Lord did something completely opposed to God’s moral code? We end up asking, “What is WRONG with that person/those people?!” as though we would never have done anything so absurd?

Sadly, I have.

Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20 and it usually is due to the fact that when we look back on something where we state we would have done things differently, we forget that what we did we often did because of the emotions we felt at that particular time. It’s very easy to judge another person or their situation from afar, isn’t it?

I’ve recently read through 1 Samuel during my daily Bible reading. It’s a fascinating book, largely dealing with three main people – Samuel, the prophet, Saul, the first king of Israel and David, who became king of Israel after Saul’s repeated failures. It’s a wonderful narrative of how God worked within the nation of Israel during a time when most people had lost all sense that God was there.

We first learn that Hannah had no children (1 Samuel 1). In those days, a barren woman was seriously looked down upon. It was taken to mean God had withheld blessing from them. Hannah was one of two wives to husband Elkanah, with the second wife, Peninnah. Because Hannah was barren, Peninnah was haughty toward Hannah.

Eventually Hannah is able to bear a child who turned out to be Samuel. She had promised God that she would “lend” her child to the Lord all the days of his life. She carried through with that promise. Ultimately, Samuel became a mighty prophet for Israel.

Samuel grows and is found favorable to God because he learns to trust the Lord, which pleases Him. One day, the people of Israel began to cry out for a king. They wanted to be like the other nations and have a king lead them and fight their battles for them (1 Samuel 8). This was after Samuel had spent years judging Israel and leading them to victory.

Samuel was dismayed at Israeli’s demand, but the Lord told him to give the people what they wanted. Saul was chosen as king and he had some problems right from the beginning. I still don’t fully know why God chose Saul except to possibly show the people that looks are deceiving. Saul was tall and handsome, just the type of characteristics you’d expect in a king. He blew it though, big time, so he was eventually canceled and the monarchy transferred from Saul’s lineage to David and his lineage.

As we continue reading the narrative, we learn that Saul couldn’t follow directions. Clear directions from God through Samuel were simply ignored. One such problem evidenced by Saul is found in 1 Samuel 13, where he unlawfully offers a sacrifice to the Lord, instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive. Saul was not a priest, yet he acted as one that day. When Samuel arrived he had words for Saul (1 Samuel 13:13-14).

13 You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

Saul’s failure in this caused his downfall. In 1 Samuel 14, he makes another mistake. There, he vows that anyone who ate anything until he was avenged on his enemies would be cursed (v 24). So here he is telling his fighting men that they cannot eat anything. Not a good decision when men need strength to fight. This created a problem for his own son, Jonathan, who had not been aware of Saul’s decree. We see in that same chapter that God had already withdrawn from Saul in refusing to answer his queries (1 Samuel 14: 37).

In 1 Samuel 15, we read that God with finality rejected Saul as king (though allowed him to reign for 40 years total). The reason God rejected Saul with finality is because of the way he did not follow God’s instructions in dealing with Amalek. Saul was supposed to kill the people of Amalek and their king, Agag (devoting him to destruction), but chose not to do so. He wasn’t supposed to allow anyone to live and was also not supposed to take any of the sheep, camel, ox or donkeys. Instead, Saul allowed Agag to live and then made excuses to Samuel saying that he had done what the Lord had said. In actuality, Saul was guilty of rebellion, which Samuel equated with the sin of divination (v 23), since it’s really the same root problem of disobedience.

Once Samuel points out how badly Saul had failed, Saul admits he was scared of the people because they wanted to take cattle, etc., for their own. This is sad. God is looking for people to follow Him in obedience because of love for Him, not out of duty.

Let me stop here for a moment and consider. It is easy for me to judge Saul, but I wasn’t there. I did not experience the fear and self-doubt he experienced. It is very possible that he was not a great critical thinker at the start and that is what got him in trouble. There is little to no evidence that Saul, like Solomon, asked for wisdom as king over Israel (though Solomon, with all his wisdom still made big mistakes). Saul did not seem to understand the gravity of many of the situations he was involved in and because of it, did the wrong thing on numerous occasions.

So imagine being king over Israel and expected to lead the people in a way that glorified God so that God could continue blessing Israel. Instead, Saul fell due to error or lack of belief and his decision-making skills grew increasingly erratic. Unfortunately, Saul had a trust problem or maybe it was a hearing problem where God was concerned. There but for the grace of God go I.

If we consider David, a man after God’s own heart, who loved God, worshiped Him and endeavored to live as God wanted him to live. The result of this is seen in the way God blessed David with one military victory after another. Yet, we get to 2 Samuel 11 and there we discover a side of David that affects most of us men at some point in our lives. He saw a beautiful woman bathing and immediately wanted her. As king, he sent people to go and get here even after learning she was married to Uriah the Hittite, who was a valiant warrior in the king’s service.

So David’s lust creates a situation where this beautiful woman is brought to him, David “sleeps” with her and impregnates here. Once she tells David, he calls for her husband from the battlefield. He chats with Uriah and then tells him to go home for the night to be with his wife before he goes back to the battlefield. Uriah does not do this but spends the night with the king’s servants. David wonders why, asks him and encourages him to spent time with his wife and go back to the battlefield the next day. David learns that night that he did not go to be with his wife, Bathsheba. So, David sends a note, which turns out to be orders to ensure Uriah’s death in battle, to Joab by the hand of Uriah. Can you believe it? Uriah carried his own death notice.

In this case, Uriah turned out to be far more honorable than King David. In truth, sin can creep into anyone’s life if left unguarded. How could David have avoided this? By not staying home, but by leading his military personally on the battlefield. He was clearly bored at home and his eyes started wandering. He had a number of wives but saw a (possibly nude, bathing), Bathsheba and wanted her. He took her, committing adultery with her. It’s easy for me to judge David but again, there but for the grace of God go I…and you. David failed to be vigilant and that is the lesson for us as well.

When I read through biblical narratives that include examples of how people fell through their shortcomings, I am tempted to look at them and say, “Goodness, what is WRONG with you?” which I’ve come to realize is simply a sign of my own arrogance. If I had been in their situation, what would I have done? Quite possibly the same thing, but I can only hope not.

Consider Adam and Eve and how through them,”…just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12), we now are all sinners. Have you ever been tempted to think, “Hey, if I had been Adam/Eve I would have remained faithful to God’s one rule!”?

The record of biblical history is there not for us to think we somehow would not have made the same mistakes. The examples show us we are all in the same boat and all of us at any point can fail God. That’s the lesson. Yes, God forgives, but wouldn’t it be nice not to have to confess our wrongdoing so that God doesn’t have to apply His forgiveness? One day after this life, that will be the case. For now, we struggle against our flesh. When we do not struggle, we end up giving into it. All of us do that.

Though God forgives, consequences often remain. This was true for Saul, for David and for many others in God’s Word. Because of their failures – some intentional and others unintentional – they often had to live through difficult times that came from the consequences they created.

Reading His Word grants us a behind the scenes look at the victories as well as failures of those who followed Him. Did they start out well? Did they run well at every step? Neither do we. If we come away from Scripture with a tendency to condemn those who came before us and failed, we place ourselves in the danger of doing the same thing because of arrogance. I certainly, at times, need to get over myself in that regard.

Can we ever extend enough grace to people, as God graciously extends to us; grace that we cannot earn and in no way deserve?


Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy.

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