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May 25, Day #146 – Partial Obedience is Simply Disobedience

Today in our readings we come to 1 Samuel 14:24-15:35. Here, we read the incredible tragedy of Saul, who for me, is an enigma. Yesterday, we read the absurd curse that Saul “bound the people under an oath, saying ‘cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes – before I have avenged myself on my enemies!’” (verse 24). We are told that the “entire army feared” Saul’s oath (verse 25), but Jonathan was unaware of it and ate honey, “and his eyes brightened” (verse 27). When apprised of Saul’s curse, Jonathan stated, “My father has made trouble for the country” (verse 29). In this section, we see that Jonathan appears to have more common sense than his father, Saul. God elevated Saul from being a nobody in Israel to become the king over the whole nation, and Saul’s character has deteriorated from that point on. In the rest of chapter 14, we see that Saul continues to make unwise decisions, and now the Lord is already beginning to separate Saul from the kingdom. When Saul asked God what he should do, “God did not answer him that day” (verse 37). Before his “leaders of the army” (verse 38), Saul’s decisions make him look foolish and weak to the point that Saul is willing to sacrifice his own son (cf., verse 44). Saul’s men had to convince him that Jonathan’s battle successes were good for all of Israel, and that “he did this with God’s help” (verse 45). In chapter 15, we see the Lord’s rejection of Saul as king. God sent Samuel with a message to attack the Amalekites for what they did when Israel came up from Egypt (verses 2-3), and “to destroy them totally” (verse 3). Earlier, we pointed out that Israel would experience continuing trouble with the Amalekites (cf., February 16, Day #47 – The Time Has Come). Here we see the simple test of the Levitical law – will Saul obey? In fact, Saul did “attack the Amalekites” (verse 7), but he “spared Agag and everything that was good” (verse 9). Saul’s partial obedience was simply disobedience that counted as rejection of the truth. As a result, Samuel said, “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you,” and Samuel "did not go to see Saul again though he mourned for him … and the LORD was grieved" (verse 35)..

In Proverbs 12:28-13:9, we read that life and immortality are bound up “in the way of righteousness.” God’s plan for us is to live - He is the Giver and Sustainer of life - and He blesses us with everlasting life if we choose to live righteously. However, our sins prevent us from living righteously. Nevertheless, by our faith in the atonement that God has provided for us (i.e., the substitutionary death of His Son), God has mercifully applied Christ’s righteousness to us so that we may participate in God’s plan and live forever (i.e., that we may find “immortality”). In other words, life comes from God Who alone can sustain our lives eternally and fulfill the plan that He has designed for us. In the opening verses of chapter 13, the writer of Proverbs adds various truthful maxims to illustrate the contrasts between righteousness – the path to immortality – and wickedness – the road to “shame and disgrace” (verse 5).

In John 14, Jesus reveals His unity with the Father – by inviting our “trust in God and in Him” (i.e., in Jesus; verse 1). He tells us His plan to go to the Father to “prepare a place” for us, and “if He goes, He will come back and take us to be with Him” (verse 3). At least five times in this chapter, Jesus says, “I am going” (verses 2, 4, 12, and twice in 28). He tells us that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him” (i.e., through Jesus; verse 6). Jesus is emphasizing that, as truth, His way is exclusive and narrow – it is not inclusive or broad. To say it plainly – Jesus is the only way to God and to the things of God. In His absence, He promises to provide for us “another Counselor” (verse 16), and that “He will not leave us as orphans” (verse 18). Of course, this Counselor is our Advocate - the Holy Spirit – the “Spirit of truth, Who dwells within us” (verse 17). As Christians, we should be grateful to God that He has instituted this plan for us; personally, I would be lost without God’s Spirit and presence in my life. I praise God every day for His gift of the Holy Spirit.

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