August 11, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Myra Chen, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 31:1-3
Reflect on God’s hand in David’s life in helping him remain blameless towards Saul till the end.  What can I learn about God from the fact that God spared David from being part of this battle that is responsible for killing Saul and his sons, including Jonathan? God is so faithful to David even when David mistrusts God, takes matters into his own hands, and ends up in situations where he has to compromise his values. God spares David from this battle that is responsible for killing Saul and Jonathan. It was God and his mercy that allowed David to get out of this situation and nothing that he did on his own. If David had been a part of that battle and later found out that Saul and his sons had been killed, he would have been laden with much guilt and shame and perhaps not been able to forgive himself.

1 Samuel 31:1-10
After years of rejecting God as king, Saul finally comes to the tragic end of his life and the lives of his sons.  What are the crucial steps that Saul took that led to this kind of tragic end? Crucial steps that Saul took that led to this kind of tragic end was his refusal to obey God’s commands, his refusal to admit his sins, and ultimately to repent of his actions. Because he saw himself as his own king and worried more about what other people thought than God’s ways, Saul lived a godless life. This end is more tragic because Saul knew that he was going to die the next day from Samuel’s warming and yet there seemed to be no remorse or repentance towards God at all. The text doesn’t mention anything about Saul asking God for help or guidance at all even at the very end. At the end of his life, Saul didn’t want to repent.

Some people can often say that they want to experience life and do their own thing, and will turn back to God later in their life. This is being very foolish because in the example of Saul, we see how hardened his heart really is at the end of his life. Who says that at the end of our lives that we will be remorseful and repentant towards God?

This is the most tragic end especially thinking about how he had started and how God had blessed him. Moreover, Saul’s disobedience and sinfulness doesn’t merely end with his tragic death, but also affected his sons as they were killed by the Philistines.  This shows how we don’t sin in a vacuum. When I sin there are repercussions and influence those around me.

What warning does Saul’s life have for me? Saul’s life is a warning for me because even though Saul started out as humble king who was courageous, had the spirit of God, and was doing God’s work, his position, status, and image got the best of him and ended up being the most important thing in his life. And it all started out with disobedience to God’s commands. I may start out humble and wanting to do God’s work but I need to make sure that I living my life before God and not people otherwise really twist/distort the good work and position that God has given me to steward. I have been given this gift to be a minister and I need to embrace it knowing that I don’t deserve it and might not even be qualified for it, yet God doesn’t make mistakes and will lead me.

Another warning is to be honest and teachable when something is being pointed out about me. Saul was a person who was so in tune with his emotions and was stubbornly clinging onto his excuses/rationalizations rather than seeing his disobedience and admitting it. Because of this refusal to confess and see his sin for what it really was, Saul was not only unable to repent thoroughly but it also caused his heart to be hardened. This is a warning that if I don’t listen when people try to point out truth in my life, my heart will be hardened as I stubbornly cling onto my own excuses and self-justifications. But the more I do this, it is more tragic for me because ultimately I wont change and there will be consequences and distance between my relationship with God as well as with people.
What did the people of Jabesh Gilead risk because of their loyalty to Saul?  What should my loyalty and gratitude to God result in? Due to their loyalty to Saul, the people of Jabesh Gilead risked their lives to rescue Saul and his sons’ body from humiliation and abuse, and gave them a decent burial. They could have easily made the excuse that Saul was dead and that there was nothing that they could do. Or they could make the excuse that even though Saul had helped them earlier, it had been a long time ago and since then, Saul didn’t do much for them. There could have been many excuses that they brought up but instead they risked their lives to get the bodies back and repay the debt of Saul’s kindness and leadership.

My loyalty and gratitude to God should result in this kind of remembrance and spring me into action when needed. First of all the people of Jabesh Gilead never forgot the deeds of Saul and how he saved them from the king of Ammon. I should never forget how God had saved me when I was in the pit of my sin even when a long period of time passes. I don’t think I can ever forget God’s grace on me and the people he used to save me from a road of destruction. My gratitude to God results in awe that God would love and save someone like me, who was not only in need of saving but also completely rebellious against God. Moreover, this gratitude that springs from remembering what God has done in my life empowers me towards action in loving people around me.

Submitted by Michael Kang, Gracepoint San Diego

1 Samuel 31:1-3

Reflect on God’s hand in David’s life in helping him remain blameless towards Saul till the end.  What can I learn about God from the fact that God spared David from being part of this battle that is responsible for killing Saul and his sons, including Jonathan?

David was about to fight on the side of the Philistines, and in so doing he would have been participating in the battle that would result in the deaths of both Saul and Jonathan. All this time up until now, he had been kept blameless against Saul and he had not lifted his hand against the Lord’s anointed, even when he had opportunity to do so. He had trusted in God to bring him to the throne if that was God’s will, and he did not seek to take it by taking the life of Saul. And now, even though David’s trust was wavering and he was trying to settle down by going to stay in the land of the Philistines and being on the side of the enemy, God spares him from being part of this battle. David foolishly wanted to fight in it, but it would have been so tragic if he had to meet Jonathan in battle. God spares him this kind of misery and guilt from fighting against his own people, and against Saul and Jonathan. By fighting against Israel, he would also probably have ended up forfeiting the throne, as the people would not accept as a king someone who had fought against them. God was truly gracious to David and was leading him all this time that he was on the run, to fulfill the anointing that He gave to David.

1 Samuel 31:1-10

After years of rejecting God as king, Saul finally comes to the tragic end of his life and the lives of his sons.  What are the crucial steps that Saul took that led to this kind of tragic end?

The crucial steps that Saul took that led to this kind of tragic end were his continued failures to repent and to turn back to God, not acknowledging his wrongdoing and choosing instead to cling on to his own ego and to the throne. He had the chance to be king, to obey God fully, and yet he did not do so. He was commanded to destroy the Amalekites completely, but he was afraid of the people and did not do so. When confronted with his wrongdoing, he did not own up to it, but made excuses. Ultimately he did not hold God’s honor as central, but rather himself. When the kingdom had been taken away from him and was to be given to David, he rebelled and was consumed by jealousy. He never let go of it, and instead hunted David and even alienated his own family and tried to kill Jonathan, his own son. Even when David spared Saul’s life on multiple occasions, his brief moment of clarity and remorse did not lead to true repentance or change.

What warning does Saul’s life have for me?

It is a warning that ultimately time does run out and one cannot forever remain in a state of rebellion against God and denial of the reality that He has ordained. Just as it was obvious in Saul’s life that he was not out to honor God but rather himself, it is just as apparent and ugly whenever leaders today behave in such ways. It means that even though God has chosen me to be a leader and has given me the opportunity to serve Him, this is not something that I can hold on to as some kind of position for myself or make it into a quest for my own ego and power. The blessing of ministry can become a curse – what started out as an exciting way to serve God and to engage in His work can become twisted if it becomes about me, if I’m concerned with being honored before the people, and holding on to my position. Like Saul, if I turn away from God and am more concerned about my own agenda and pursuits rather than His, if I fail to obey God and instead choose to honor myself, then it will lead to destructive consequences. God will not work through such a person and rather He will seek someone else, a shepherd who is after His own heart. The most important thing that I can do, therefore, is to remain true to God, humble and honest before Him. Serving God must be about just that, serving God – and not a pretext for my own advancement. The Saul-like sins within me are those that I have to struggle with and continually root out, lest they take hold and lead me in a similar direction as Saul. Had Saul had a real relationship with God, had he feared God and had proper reverence for Him, things would probably not have ended up in this way.

 

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