Monday, August 15, 2011


Today's passage:  I Samuel 15:1-11
     I have wept over my children.  I have prayed for their strength in this wicked world.  I yearn for each of them not to only to accept Christ, but to embrace Him in their lives so that they will give their lives to serve Him.  Crying for my children is not an unusual thing.  It seems natural.  If they were to fall into sin, I would cry again.  I would fall on my knees and plead with God to deliver them from whatever mischief they were involved.
"It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king:  for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.  And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night." 
     Not surprisingly, Saul has again decided to do things his way.  He thinks he is wiser than God.  God gives him the express order to destroy, no annihilate, the Amalekites.  Eradicate them, demolish them, obliterate them.  I think "utterly destroy... and spare them not," seems pretty plain to me.  I don't think there is a lot of wiggle room there.  Yet Saul seems to find a loophole.  Actually, he doesn't find one, he creates one.  He almost does everything that God says.  But almost following an order is not good enough.  If I were a pharmacist and I almost filled the medicine order correctly, I could kill someone.  If I were a banker, and I almost gave back the right amount of change, I would be convicted of cheating people.
      Almost obeying God is not obeying.  In fact, I will even go so far as to say that almost obeying is worse than disobeying.  Why?  Because when I disobey, I have no excuses.  It's pretty black and white.  When I almost obey, I want to excuse myself for why I couldn't obey completely.  I want to offer reasons why my disobedience wasn't disobedience at all.  I want to color it gray.
     I really believe God gives this task to Saul on purpose.  What God asks Saul to do is to fulfill a promise He made back in Deuteronomy 25.  It had always been God's plan to "blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven."  Now, God asks Saul to carry out the task.  His failure to do this will allow Amalek to cause future havoc for Israel.  Remember Haman, the wicked fellow in the book of Esther who persuades King Ahasuerus to enact the law to have the Jews destroyed?  Guess his ancestry.  He was a descendant of the Amalekites.  Saul's failure here, is a failure for generations.  That is a good application to remember.  Sometimes my failures follow me, or follow my children.  I shouldn't look at any situation and think, well, I'll just disobey a little.  There is no such thing.  Saul's almost obedience led to an almost destruction generations later.  God gives Saul the privilege of carrying out His orders.  He gives Saul the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy.  He leaves one, alright, just not one God intended.
     After Saul disobeys, God speaks to Samuel about it.  Samuel is brokenhearted.  He weeps over Saul, as if he is his own son.  The verse says that he cried all night.  This really challenged me.  When is the last time I cried for someone who was not my child, or in my family.  When is the last time I cried for the leaders of my country?  I have had critical spirits over those in authority, I have prayed for them, not really convinced that anything would change.  When have I ever cried for my President and prayed God would help him in his decisions?  I have prayed that way, but I don't think I have ever earnestly pleaded with God as Samuel did here.  I have never stayed awake all night and prayed for him.  Wouldn't that be something?  Wouldn't it be a challenge if all of our churches took a time to have an all-night prayer vigil for the leaders of our country?  Would it change anything?  Samuel was convinced it would.  You might say, but Saul didn't change, if anything, he seemed to get worse.  This is true.  It seemed pointless for Samuel to waste his tears.  It seems sentimental.  But how do we know, that Saul might not have been a worse king if it weren't for Samuel's prayers?  He still wasn't great, but maybe he would have been worse.  Maybe Samuel's crying to God that night actually spared Saul from committing actions which we may never know.  He may not have been the best king, but maybe he was a better king than he ought to have been because of Samuel.
     Maybe our leaders will never change.  But maybe our prayers, earnest, heartfelt prayers will make them better than they ought to be.  I'm committing my time to let God get a hold of my heart for the men and women who are in office and have a serious time of prayer for them.  I want to weep for them as Samuel wept for Saul.  I want to plead that God will do something in their lives to make them better leaders for our country.  And who knows?  Maybe they will actually commit their ways to Him.  Maybe God is just waiting for us to ask.

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