Disobedient fear (Saul), or obedient love (Jesus)…to the end?

6 06 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FOUR : 1 Samuel 14 v. 24 – 15 v. 35; John 14 v. 1 – 31; Proverbs 12 v. 28 – 13 v. 9

1 SAMUEL
Jonathan Eats Honey – Because Jonathan has been away, he hasn’t heard the oath the Israelites had sworn, Saul having bound them under a curse not to eat anything before evening, before the enemy had been attacked; so Jonathan, unwittingly, breaks the oath when he sees yummy honey and eats some. One of the soldiers tells him about the oath, but Jonathan only sees the problem his father is making for his people – surely it would be better to fight with the energy this honey provided.
Also, because the Israelites are so hungry, after defeating the Philistines, and taking plunder, they butcher the sheep, cattle and calves right there and then, not slaughtering them properly, hence eating them whilst the blood is still present, breaking God’s law. Someone alerts Saul to this problem, that the people are ‘sinning against the Lord’.
Saul tries to correct this by having a large stone rolled over as a make-shift altar for slaughtering. ‘Then Saul build an altar to the Lord; it was the first time he had done this.
When Saul wants to continue the plundering into the night, it is the priest who suggests he consults God first. Saul asks God but hears no answer – there’s a problem. Saul gathers the leaders together to ‘let us find out what sin has been committed today….even if it lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.’ Oops!
Firstly, Saul and Jonathan are chosen by lot, a sign of God’s guidance in identifying who sinned. Finally, Jonathan is chosen, and he explains how he ate a little honey. Saul is prepared to kill Jonathan for breaking the oath (which he hadn’t himself taken), but the people speak up for him
‘Should Jonathan die – he who has brought about this great deliverance….not a hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help’.
Jonathan is spared, and the people withdraw for a time.

Saul is going to have great problem with jealousy and rivalry…is there a touch of this already in his willingness to sacrifice his son, Jonathan, who is being credited with the ‘great deliverance’ ?

Saul is known as a good warrior king, fighting against the enemies on every side, ‘inflicting punishment on them’, fighting valiantly and defeating the Amalekites.

Saul’s Family – a brief summary of Saul’s family – wife : Ahinoam; sons : Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua; daughters Merab and Michal. His cousin Abner is his army commander. ‘All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.’

The Lord Rejects Saul as King – Another woeful episode ending in God grieving over the fact He had made Saul king. In a battle over the Amalakites, God order Saul to oversee the destruction of ‘everything that belongs to them’ (a punishment for not letting the Israelites through on their way from Egypt). However, their king Agag is taken alive, and the best of the livestock are kept – ‘everything that was good’.
From a distance, Samuel learns of God’s displeasure that His command to Saul has not been heeded. Samuel cries out to the Lord all night long, then went to see Saul, who was at Carmel setting up a monument to himself !
Is it a sign of guilt that Saul greets Samuel saying, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’ (it is precisely because he has NOT carried out the instructions that Samuel is now there!).
When Samuel lets Saul know he’s aware of the livestock that has been kept, Saul tries to blame ‘the soldiers’, suggesting they have been kept as a fitting sacrifice to God. Samuel’s reply reminds me of the prophetic voice which will begin to be heard all the more in later books in the OT :
‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice…
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.’
Saul is trapped, confesses how he has violated God’s commands, admits to fear of the people, and asks Samuel to offer him forgiveness and to go back with him so he can worship the Lord. Initially, Samuel refuses, underlining God’s rejection of Saul; as Samuel turns to go, Saul grabs his robe and it rips – Samuel tells Saul that this rip represents the kingdom being torn from Saul’s hands to be passed to someone else – someone ‘better than you’ (mmm, bet that sentence hurts Saul!)
Saul knows he’s sinned and pleads again for Samuel to go with him so that he may worship. This time, Samuel does as Saul wishes; while with Saul, Samuel has king Agag brought to him and ensures he is put to death before Samuel returns to Ramah, and Saul to Gibeah. It’s the last time Samuel will see Saul.
Samuel mourns over Saul (his failure, his falling from grace), and God grieves over Saul’s kingship.

A sad episode ends with mourning and grieving Saul – though he is still alive, he is dead to the Lord in his disobedience.

JOHN
Jesus Comforts His Disciples – In John’s gospel, there are several whole chapters given over to Jesus’ words on this last night, with his arrest, torture and death imminent. Yet Jesus talks of love, joy and peace in the midst of all that is about to occur.
Jesus tells His disciples He is going away, to prepare a place for each of them. He will come again, and take them to where He is.
The antidote for a troubled heart is a deep trust in God and in Jesus.

Jesus, the Way to the Father – Thomas asks great questions, seeks deeper understanding, and here asks Jesus how they can possibly know the way if they don’t know where He is going. It’s Thomas’ question which brings the wonderful statement of Jesus :
‘I am the way, and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.’

Jesus IS the only way we can know God as Father, loving parent, because of the truth and life which fill Jesus, and which inhabit us by His Spirit.

Then Philip asks how they might see and know the Father, and Jesus explains that if they have seen Him (Jesus), they have seen the Father. He impresses upon the disciples how the Father is in Him and He is in the Father.
‘I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son will bring glory to the Father. You may ask anything in my name and I will do it.’
(Jesus will say the same thing in ch. 15 – He is turning the spotlight onto his disciples and upon how things will be for them into the future.)

It’s an amazing promise for Jesus’ disciples, that they will do ‘even greater things’ than all they have seen Him do over the last few years, because He goes back to the Father, and that they will walk so closely with Him that asking things in His name will bear much fruit.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit – Jesus has already said His going will be to prepare a place for the disciples, that His going will equip the disciples for greater works of power, and here Jesus explains how. If they remain obedient, the Father will give another Counsellor / Advocate, the Spirit of truth.
‘He lives with you and will be in you’.
On the day that Jesus comes, as Spirit, ‘because I live, you will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’
The Holy Spirit will be sent by the Father, in Jesus’ name, and will teach all things.
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you….’

Jesus is laying it on thick about His leaving them, for the ‘prince of this world is coming’, and although he has no hold on Jesus, all that is about to happen is to show Jesus’ deep love of the Father, and His obedience in all things to Him.

PROVERBS
In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality…
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin…
Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner…
The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out…’

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