July 22, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Wilson Fong, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 19:1-10

Even though Saul agreed with Jonathan’s reasoning he again decides to kill David.  What does this show about the adequacy of reasoning to uproot deeper sins of the heart?

Saul had placed a death sentence over David, but Jonathan spoke to his father, reminding him of all the ways David had benefited him and all the ways God brought victory to Israel through him.  Because of Jonathan’s reasoning, Saul changed his mind, even declaring an oath that David would not be put to death.  Yet soon thereafter, Saul makes another attempt at David’s life, trying to pin him to the wall with a spear.  This episode shows me that reasoning alone is utterly inadequate to uproot the deep-seated sins of the heart.  For people who are broken and damaged by sin, there is a disconnect between the mind and the heart.  That is why people may know what to do and what not to do, but still they go against their conscience and reasoning and still they sin against God and others.  In the words of Apostle Paul, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…  So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:15, 21-24).  Clearly, if the issue were merely about having enough knowledge and understanding, that we would have mastery over sin.  But even the mind, informed by reasoning, cannot subdue the deeply entrenched sins of the heart.

What factors contributed to Saul going back on his oath?

Saul went back on his oath because: 1) David continued to be victorious in battle, striking the Philistines with such force that they scattered before him; and 2) an evil spirit came upon Saul.  Saul would have faithfully kept his vow if David was no longer in the picture, but because David was still around, Saul was tormented by his valor and his accomplishments that the felt-need to eliminate David re-surfaced.

What drives people to take actions that defy what they know to be right and just?

What drives people to take actions that defy what they know to be right and just are their emotions.  Because they are committed to the compulsive feelings of their heart, they override their reason and simply follow the dictates of their emotions.

Is there some deeply entrenched sin — jealousy, bitterness or resentment toward someone, or ongoing problems of rage, or other strongholds — that I need to deal with more aggressively than I have been?

When I think about the deeply entrenched sins that my leaders have dealt with over the past thirteen years – the pride and ego, the people-consciousness, the envy towards friends, the dishonesty – I recall how they did not just sit down with me and try to reason with me why these sins were offensive to God and detrimental to my relationships.  Rather, they led me through the repentance process, they showed me how to struggle over my sins, they directed me to go to the Word of God with a desperate heart and a desire to be right with God.  I would make commitments, but those commitments did not work like a magical incantation that made my deep-seated sins miraculously disappear.  Rather, it happened through what happened after I made those commitments – the following weeks and months and years of praying, of personal fasting retreats, of confessing and repenting.

Now, as I am a minister working with college students, it would be utterly foolish of me to think that a “good talk” with one of my juniors will instill the sufficient power to dislodge deeply ingrained sins from his life.  No, I need to lead him through repentance, teach him how to struggle and pray and confess and ask for prayers and accountability.  And recalling my experiences, I know that there is the constant temptation to give up struggling, to believe that I will never change and to accept that these sins will forever be immutable features of my life.  From Philippians 1:6, I know that the God who began a good work in me will not give up on me, and neither will my leaders.  In the same way, I need to help my students struggle with intensity and unrelenting effort.

1 Samuel 19:11-17

First with Jonathan, and now with Michal, Saul starts to lose his own family members.  What warning does this give to me regarding what happens to a person who insists on acting out of insecurity?

I am reminded of the warning one of my leaders gave me recently, regarding what will happen to my relationships in the future if I were to continue operating out of my insecurity and ego – I will drive the ones closest to me away.  That will include my wife and my two children, my brothers and sisters at church, and the very ones I am ministering to.  Out of my insecurity, I will be constantly demanding respect and appreciation and attention from them, utterly self-focused and therefore absolutely loveless.  There will be the heavy weight of my ego-needs, needing to be pampered and soothed – and I will make everyone around me, including myself, miserable.  Humble people, on the other hand, are the happiest people, and everyone wants to be around them.

My insecurity (and my pride, which is just the flipside) is one of the deeply entrenched sins that I need to remain vigilant against and need to continue to deal with aggressively.  This picture of Saul losing his own son and then his own daughter because of his insecurity sobers me and serves as that negative example to get me to struggle with my insecurity, to dig deeper into the gospel, and to be honest about my fears.

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Submitted by Will Sam, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 19:1-10

Even though Saul agreed with Jonathan’s reasoning he again decides to kill David.  What does this show about the adequacy of reasoning to uproot deeper sins of the heart?

In verses 4-5, Jonathan lays out very specific reasons why Saul should not try to kill David.  Jonathan reminds Saul of the fact that David has done no wrong against Saul.  Instead, David has been able to benefit Saul and his kingdom greatly.  Through David, God has done great things, bringing great victory to all of Israel.  Jonathan reminds his father that Saul has seen these very things with his own eyes and that they made him glad.  And so now, there is no reason to put David to death.

Saul agrees with Jonathan and even takes an oath.  And yet soon thereafter, Saul decides that he must kill David once again.  This picture of Saul shows that there is an inadequacy of reasoning when it comes to the very deep seated sins of the heart.  Saul’s jealousy of David, his fear of losing the throne, and his pride; all of these things were still very vibrant in Saul’s heart.  Since he had not dealt with them properly, the only thing reasoning seemed to do here is to put those fears, those thoughts, those sins, on hold.  Though Saul was able to mute these thoughts for now through reasoning, he did not properly repent and dig these sins out – therefore, his approach was merely surface level and thus his sins remained.

What factors contributed to Saul going back on his oath?

The verses are scarce when it talks about the factors that contributed to Saul going back on his oath.  All we are told is that war broke out and that David rose up to meet the challenge and he crushed the Philistines.  The text next provides that an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul and once again, he wanted to kill David.  From these verses, however, we can see that the new war that arose and David’s resounding victory dug up those deep seated feelings within Saul.

As soon as David came back from the war front, Saul’s fears, insecurities, pride and anger arose once again.  In his heart, again, he was being confronted once again by this young upstart who wanted nothing more than to take away his hard-fought kingdom.  Saul felt that David was an enemy of the state, and with his resounding victories ever piling up, David’s sway over the people would only increase.  Saul’s pride and envy boiled over as he saw that David could do no wrong.

What drives people to take actions that defy what they know to be right and just?

I think that there are many factors that contribute to people taking actions that defy what they know to be right and just.  The first that comes to my mind right away would be our feelings.  Saul here acknowledges that Jonathan is right – David is a faithful soldier, incredible warrior, and clearly a man that God is working through.  Saul knows that that is the truth; that killing David is wrong, and that he would be foolish to try to do this.  Having said that, the refrain of the masses galls him; his daughter Michal loving him incenses him; David’s growing victories worry him.  So though he knows in his head what is right and good, Saul also senses something very real in the depth of his heart – a mixture of fear, insecurity, pride, anger, and hatred.  All of these things can overwhelm and cause us to lose our sense of reasoning; our sense of right and justice.

In a very sad and real way, I think about how this looks like in today’s culture, specifically regarding adultery.  When people decide to get married, when they bring their families together, when they publically declare an oath to one another, there is such clarity in their actions.  We stand here together, in front of God and witnesses, declaring our faithfulness to one another, and to God.  And yet people commit adultery at such alarming rates, even among Christians, that there must be something missing.  Was it that they did not know, they were unaware, they were ignorant of the fact that adultery was wrong?  Could it be that they simply were oblivious to the horrible, relationship-destroying consequences of their actions?  Or was it simply that their feelings were so strong, even if it was just at that moment, that all reasoning went straight out the door?

Feelings, desires, wants, longings of the heart, fears, insecurities, pride – all of these powerful emotions can and do often lead people to commit actions that simply defy what they, themselves know to be right and just.

1 Samuel 19:11-17

First with Jonathan, and now with Michal, Saul starts to lose his own family members.  What warning does this give to me regarding what happens to a person who insists on acting out of insecurity?

Saul’s picture is one of the saddest and most tragic in the Bible.  Saul’s world continues to get smaller and smaller.  Jonathan, because he loved truth, because he honored God, Jonathan becomes someone who Saul looks at and cannot understand any longer.  Michal, as well, because she loves her husband; Saul cannot trust her anymore either.

The warning presented here is clear.  To insist on acting out of insecurity; to insist on acting out on our emotions and feelings – these will inevitably drive away anyone and everyone that we care about.  In the end if we act on our emotions we will be like Saul, alone, afraid and seeking to strike anyone who dares to come too close and threaten our sense of security.

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