TOTAL OBEDIENCE, OR IT IS DISOBEDIENCE
We recently reviewed the disobedience of David and the consequences of his sin in our Church. It has given us cause to look at what it takes to become a new man, and what it takes to remain a new man. In this case we will look at King Saul;
I Samuel 10:1 – 6 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son? Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands. After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
Saul was chosen and blessed of God, but he had a set path he had to follow in obedience to become a new man. It was not his decision, nor was it in his control. In our spiritual parallel, the path is simple, and through Jesus, to be reconciled to God, and to be a new man;
II Corinthians 5:17, 18 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
We also have a new beginning, a fresh slate, free from the guilt of our past. The word says we become a new creature. Saul then had instructions given to him to follow;
I Samuel 10:7, 8 And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.
These instructions were given to prepare him to receive further instructions! There is a preparing walk for us as well, leading us to the point where we can receive further instruction. The story of King Saul’s change is a great story, but one I had always avoided because of his later failures. How could he be a good example? But I Corinthians 10:11 – 12 tell us that the things in the Old Testament happened not only for examples, but for our admonition. Alas, Saul failed to follow the instructions he was given;
I Samuel 13:7 – 14 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
As new Christians, and until recently, we did not understand why Saul was wrong when all he did was offer a sacrifice. But as we have grown spiritually we know now that we will never find God’s habitation in our place, in our way, or in our walk (see later But the High Places …); we must do it God’s way. With God’s ways and thoughts so far above ours (Isaiah 55:6 – 11), why do we choose to settle for less? It is because of our spiritual blindness, and our “hearing” the physical things of our flesh.
Saul had to obey to become the new man, and also had to obey to remain the new man. The truth and example and admonition for us is that we also must obey after God makes us a new creature. The path of sanctification is the way we remain a new creature. Failing to follow the path God gives us brings us to spiritual blindness and being spiritually deaf. Saul was given further instructions;
I Samuel 15:2 – 3 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
But Saul could not “see” his failures, and so he also failed in this matter;
I Samuel 15:13 – 23 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Besides the obvious example of disobedience we need to see three other things in these scriptures. First, from the phrase “ When thou wast little in thine own sight …” we see that pride has entered into Saul; pride will always set you up for a fall. Samuel reminds Saul that it was the Lord who anointed him King. Never get lifted up in flesh by what God does in, or for, you, but give him the glory. Secondly, Saul says they saved of the spoil to offer sacrifices “… unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.” Saul is still trying to find atonement in the place of his past failure. Thirdly, the difference between Saul and David in their disobedience is that Saul’s response is about excuses and blame, and then sacrifice for it; David’s response is immediately repentance. It is frequently taught that there was a difference in their sins; their response when confronted shows the difference in heart, which God looks on.
Isaiah 1:16 – 20 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
It would be really easy from here to find a revival message of repentance for the Church, but let us explore a bit further. God’s calling to us is not conditional;
II Corinthians 6:17 – 18 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
We have heard this verse in our ears, but have we heard it in heart? Have we obeyed it? Are we separating ourselves from the world? Can we spiritually see where we are walking? We cannot abide in a full spiritual walk without total obedience; we must hear and obey God. Compare to the Israelites when coming to the promised land;
Judges 2:1 – 5 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.
The Israelites had been given instructions that would have allowed them to remain in the walk with God that he intended, instead they let evil remain. What have we let remain? We may have taken the obvious out of our lives, but what about the things we see for entertainment? Are we listening to the enemy, as Eve did, when Satan says “You won’t die”? He uses it to blind and deafen you. Look only at the Ten Commandments, and see how often you watch them being broken. Do we see and get a different perspective of … spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12), or cleansing from filthiness of the spirit (II Corinthians 7:1)? The gods of Hollywood will lead you to lose rather than gain spirituality; we are told in Ephesians;
Ephesians 5:11 – 12 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
I had been working out of town, and was home on a recent Friday morning (trash day). My wife had left a note on the handle of the refrigerator “take out trash”. I was out of the habit, and she knew I would forget. How do we get so out of the habit spiritually? God had told Abraham that his seed would be oppressed 400 years and then be delivered. It was passed to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to Joseph (who told them they would go out of Egypt and slavery, and commanded them to take his bones with them). Yet when the time came, the people could not see for their bondage, their work, watering their crops like herbs; the leeks and garlick, and onions. They were out of the spiritual habit.
We are much the same today; Revival or Camp Meeting uplift us and open our eyes, then we go home and begin a gradual eroding of our spiritual walk. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. How would the church today compare to the church in Jesus day? Jesus told them they had to exceed the “church” of that day;
Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus is speaking of the last days, he says;
Matthew 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
It will be so bad that even the elect could not overcome if those days continued! How much more do we need the preparing of obedience to overcome in these days? We must seek, hear, and obey the Lord, and separate ourselves from the flesh.
Let us go back and look at “… be ye separate …” a little closer. In Numbers 8:14 God gave commandment to separate the Levites to service. In Acts 13:2 God said “… Separate me Barnabas and Saul …” and then used them mightily. When Jacob and Moses (Genesis 49:26 and Deuteronomy 33:16) speak the blessing for the tribe of Joseph, he is blessed for being separate from his brothers. Joseph was able to deliver his brethren only because of his separation, and recognizes it spiritually! Joseph was also blessed for it.
The greatest example of separation, of course, is Jesus; and it records that separation well in Hebrews;
Hebrews 7:25 – 28 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
Because of His separation from sin, Jesus could deliver us from our sin (disobedience).
Will you find total obedience to overcome, and to separate yourself, and deliver those God has called you to deliver? God is again calling the remnant that will do as He bids them.