Bible reading for Aug 21.
I Samuel 13.
"And Samuel said to Saul, 'You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.'" (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
PROBLEMS BEGIN. Saul is a good leader, but a pragmatist who has an eye to the crowd. In this chapter he is seeking to hold his troops together by taking charge of matters. In many ways we can identify with Saul, seeing things falling apart and just wanting to do something. But he takes charge of the sacrifice that was to be offered by the priest, in this case, Samuel. Saul's real job was to be obedient to the Lord, and to wait for the Lord's blessing through the priest. In this he failed, and will fail again. For Saul, obedience to God was optional, or at least secondary to his own view of leadership. Saul seemed to value the opinion polls over God's will. Samuel tells him that there will be another king to come after him, a "man after God's own heart". That is, this next king will be loyal to God and committed to his will above all.
REFLECT. We can be gifted, or have impressive talents and skills, but if we are not humbly obedient to the Lord, then our labor will not have lasting value (cf 1 Cor 15:58). Are we ever being like Saul, in that we value the opinions of people over the will of the Lord?
"As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:28-29)
ISRAEL'S FUTURE. A remnant of Israel has received their Messiah, and the rest of the nation has been hardened for a time (vv 1-14). Meanwhile, the gospel is going forth to all the nations. Gentiles should not view themselves as being better than the Jews, however, for all who do not receive Christ will be destroyed, no matter their ethnicity (vv 17-25). A key passage is vv 28-29 which demonstrates that there is still a special place and future for ethnic Israel. The very ones who are enemies (unbelieving Jews) are also the ones beloved for the sake of the patriarchs of Israel. My take on this chapter is that Paul is saying that the unbelief of Israel is partial and temporary, for the season that the gospel is spreading among the nations. And in the end there will be a great awakening among the Jews, with many, many Jews receiving Jesus in the last days.
DOCTRINE TO DOXOLOGY. Sometimes people set doctrine and devotion at odds. Some are interested only in theology, while others are mainly drawn to worship. The Bible never sets these in opposition. We must know the truth about God before we can worship him. And knowing truth about God is incomplete without love for God. In verses 33-36, Paul concludes his teaching (doctrine) with worship (devotion)...
"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."
REFLECT. Are you loving God with all your mind and heart (Matt 22:37)? Are you growing both in grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet 3:18)? Are you praying for God's ancient people, the Jews, to come to know and trust their Messiah (Zech 12:10)? Are you praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6)?
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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