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Getting to Know . . . 2 Samuel (chapter 6) Disobedience, Wrath, and Propriety!

We have a fascinating text to go over this morning!
David assembles 30,000 able young men to go to Baalah to retrieve the ark of God “which is called by the Name” (v. 2).

They set the ark on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart (Ahio walking in front). David and all Israel “were celebrating with all their might before the Lord” (v. 5).

But sometimes oxen stumble and they did at the threshing floor of Nakon! Uzzah logically reached out and took hold of the ark of God. We read that “the Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God” (v. 9)!

Talk about ruining a religious celebration! An instant funeral! But let’s not miss the details: (1) The Lord had commanded that the ark should be carried with long poles (Ex. 25:12–15). Transporting the ark on an oxcart instead demonstrated a lack of reverence for this representation of God’s presence. (2) Uzzah touched the ark; Even those whose job it was to carry the ark were forbidden to touch it (Num. 4:15). (3) God’s anger burned against Uzzah “because of his irreverent act” (v. 7). (4) Therefore, “God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God” (v. 7).

How does David respond to this act of the Lord? David becomes angry at the Lord’s anger! (v. 8). David also becomes afraid of the Lord that day and asked, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” (v. 9).

His fear led him not to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the city of David, but took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite where it remained for three months. We read — “and the Lord blessed him [Obed-Edom] and his entire household.” (v. 11).

Hearing of God’s blessing on Obed-Edom’s house, David goes to retrieve the ark and brings it with rejoicing to the City of David. When those who were carrying (!) the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, we read, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf (v. 13). David, wearing only a linen ephod, was “dancing before the Lord with all his might” (v. 14).

Michal, daughter of Saul, watched from a window and despised David in her heart when she saw him leaping and dancing before the Lord (v. 16).

The ark is brought inside the tent and sacrifices are made before the Lord. David then blesses the people and gives everyone food gifts (v. 19). Returning home to bless his own household, David is rebuked by Michal who says, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” (v. 20).

David defends himself by saying, “It was before the Lord who chose me rather than anyone from Saul’s house to rule over Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord.” (v. 21). He says, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (v. 22).

We then read the Michal “daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” (v. 23).

Several takeaways for me:
1. Concerning the execution of Uzzah, let’s not forget that there were 30,000 able young men watching the transporting of the ark!
2. Religious revelry is great — but not at the expense of disobedience to the clear commands of God. Their “celebrating with all their hearts” did not negate God’s command not to touch the ark.
3. In his anger toward God’s execution of Uzzah, David is not overtly rebuked by the Lord. Sometimes we will get upset at the Lord’s actions in our lives, right?
4. There is a blessing for those who do what is right (Obed-Edom and his house in taking care of the ark).
5. Propriety is no substitute for heart-felt praise! David’s dancing offends Michal, but not the Lord!
6. There is a price to pay (Michal’s barrenness) for rebuking another’s unbridled worship of the Lord!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2019 in 2 Samuel 6

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (15:22-35) RELIGIOUS REBELLION!

We’ve seen in I Samuel 15 that King Saul disobeyed a clear and direct command from God to annihilate the Amalekite people, including their animals! Saul captures King Agag spares “the best of” the flocks to “sacrifice to the Lord [Samuel’s] God” (v. 15).

Samuel is grieved at Saul’s disobedience. The Lord regrets that He made Saul king. And Samuel pronounces judgment on Saul. Saul has lost his original humility, was motivated by greed (pouncing on the plunder), and did evil in the eyes of the Lord (v. 19). He is also self-deceived, thinking he had done God’s will and engages in blame-shifting and religious excuse-making.

We now look at the rest of I Samuel 15. In one of the most poetic sections of the Old Testament, Samuel says to Saul: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (v. 22).

Samuel then says, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” (v. 23).

Samuel then pronounces judgment on Saul: “You’ve rejected the word of the Lord — the Lord has rejected you as king.”

Saul confesses his sin, admits that he had violated the Lord’s command out of fear of his men (“and so I gave in to them”) (v. 24). He then pleads for forgiveness and asks Samuel to accompany him to worship. (v. 25). Samuel refuses to go back with Saul and turns to leave. Saul grabs Samuel’s robe which tears. Samuel says the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one better than you (v. 28).

We then get a great statement about God: “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind” (v. 29).

Samuel agrees to go back with Saul to worship the Lord (to “honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel”) (vv. 30-31).

Samuel then has the unsavory task of executing King Agag, who thinks “surely the bitterness of death is past” (v. 32). The prophet Samuel declares, “As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women” (v. 33). The text then says, “And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal” (v. 33).

The English Standard Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible have “And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.”  The New American Standard Bible and the King James Bible have “And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal.”  The Contemporary English Version has “Then Samuel chopped Agag to pieces at the place of worship in Gilgal.” [John MacArthur uses verse 33 (hacking Agag to death) as an illustration of killing sin in our lives.]

Samuel leaves for Ramah and does not see Saul again, “though Samuel mourned for him” (v. 35). The chapter closes with the sad statement “And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel” (v. 35).

Some takeaways for me:
1. How do we know in what the Lord delights (v. 22)? He revealed His will to Saul — who promptly trusted his own reason and evaluation and disobeyed the Lord.
2. Saul’s was no small sin! Samuel describes it as rebellion, arrogance, rejection of the Word of the Lord.
3. The Lord is fully capable of reciprocation. Saul’s rejection of God’s Word leads to the Lord’s rejection of him!
4. In the midst of such personal tragedy, the beauty of God shines forth! Samuel makes a declaration about the very character of God: “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind” (v. 29).
5. Sometimes religious leaders have to do what political leaders fail to do. There are no Agags around for us to execute, but Samuel’s passion to do God’s will ought to inspire each of us!
6. It is quite possible to live in such a way that we bring regret to the heart of God. And I don’t want to do that. Do you?

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in I Samuel 15

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel (15:1-21) Disobedience & Self-Deceit!

Samuel gives Saul a direct command from the Lord to “totally destroy” the Amalekites. He is told to not spare them. “Put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (v. 3)

Saul assembles his men — 200,000 men plus 10,000 from Judah. Saul spares the Kenites, then attacks the Amalekites, taking Agag the king alive. He destroyed all the people with the sword. But Saul and the army spared the best of the flocks — “everything that was good” (v. 9). “These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed” (v. 9).

Samuel is informed by the Lord of the Lord’s regret that He had made Saul king “because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions” (v. 11). Samuel was angry and cried out to the Lord all that night.

Samuel goes to meet Saul who is setting up a monument to himself at Carmel (v. 12). Saul greets Samuel with the words, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions” (v. 13). Samuel then responds, “What are these animal noises that I hear?”

Saul passes the buck and blames the soldiers — “They spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest” (v. 15).

“Enough!” Samuel says. “The Lord told me last night that you’ve changed from the time you were ‘once small in your own eyes.’ The Lord anointed you king — and you’ve not obeyed the King! You didn’t fulfill your mission. Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” (vv. 16-19).

Saul defends himself, thinking he had obeyed the Lord. He uses religion as an excuse for the choices he made.

Some takeaways for me today:
1. The original temptation in the Garden of Eden was to take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan said, “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5).  In Saul’s situation, he and his army decided what was good and evil. They spared “everything that was good” (v. 9) and totally destroyed everything that was “despised and weak.”I am falling into the sin of Saul, his army, and the original first couple when I make myself the final determiner of what is good and what is evil.
2. The Lord is grieved by disobedience. And we should be as well (Samuel became angry and stayed up all night crying out to the Lord, v. 11).
3. Sin is self-deceptive. Saul thought he had obeyed the Lord (v. 13).
4. It is quite easy to play the blame game — and to take the credit for anything good that is done (v. 15).
5. Humbleness is not a permanent quality. Saul lost his humility when he became king; he was no longer “small in his own eyes” (v. 17).
6. We must never underestimate the power of greed. We, too, “pounce on the plunder,” don’t we? (v. 19).
7. We can use religion as an excuse for the bad choices that we make (v. 21).

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2018 in greed, I Samuel 15

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (13:1-15) The Price of Disobedience!

What is the price of disobedience? In this first section of chapter 13 we see King Saul go through a process of reasoning in his mind and he does something that forfeits his kingdom! Human rationalism will take us only so far in this life. And when it flies in the face of keeping God’s commands, it can be lethal.

The situation is a war-time catastrophe. The Philistine army gears up to fight the Israelites because the latter had become “obnoxious” to the former (v. 4). And the Philistines muster all their forces (including 3000 chariots) to attack Israel. It is a desperate military situation!

They see their situation as “critical” and their army is “hard pressed” and these soldiers hide in caves and thickets, among the rocks and in pits and cisterns (v. 6). Israel’s troops become understandably fearful (“quaking with fear”) (v. 7).

Saul endures this panic among his troops for seven days, waiting for Samuel to come and make offerings to Israel’s God. But his patience comes to an end, Samuel has not arrived, and the troops begin to scatter (v. 8). So Saul does the unthinkable — he takes Samuel’s place and offers up the burnt offering (v. 10).

Of course Samuel arrives at that moment and asks Saul who comes out to greet him, “What have you done?” (v. 11).

Saul gives his reasons for his action: (1) I saw the men were scattering; (2) you did not come at the set time; (3) and the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash (v. 11). “And,” says Saul, “I have not sought the Lord’s favor” (v. 12).

Those reasons sound pretty good to me. But Samuel says, “You have done a foolish thing. You have not kept the Lord’s command. As a result, your kingdom will not endure. Moreover, the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him ruler over His people.” (v. 14).

Samuel leaves Saul and Saul counts his men who number 600. It appears that Saul’s action did not solve the problem of his men scattering, did it?

There is much I don’t understand here. But I know a bit about panic. I can understand in a military context the terror that would overcome a leader when his soldiers begin to desert, when defeat seems imminent, when things haven’t worked out as one assumed they would.

All those are good reasons to take drastic action, aren’t they? But Saul’s taking Samuel’s place and offering the burnt offering to get the Lord’s blessing on the upcoming battle was too much. And it cost him his kingdom.

My takeaways from this event:
(1) I too am in a battle, against spiritual forces!
(2) I too want the Lord’s favor in my life and in my ministry.
(3) But there are never enough good reasons to disobey the Lord! Where was Saul’s faith? Yes, Samuel was delayed in arriving. Yes, Saul’s troops are hiding or leaving. But this was the LORD’s army, right?
(4) Relying on my own reason and rationalizations is not the same as simple, faith-driven obedience and trust in the sovereign God!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2018 in I Samuel 13

 

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