Bible reading for the weekend of Aug 22.
I Samuel 14-15.
"And Samuel said, 'Has 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 listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.'" (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
SAUL AND JONATHAN (14). We are introduced to Saul's son Jonathan, who will later become David's best friend. He's a young man of faith, full of godly initiative, at a time when there were few fighters and even fewer weapons at hand. But the Lord's blessing is upon him. Again, in God's perfect timing an earthquake coincides with the attack (14:15), and the confusion that resulted helped Israel win the battle that day. Saul, slow to enter the battle, speaks rashly with a curse -- no one shall eat "until I am avenged on my enemies" (14:24). Saul speaks like the big man, but Jonathan ends up being the hero of this story.
FINAL STRAW (15). Saul once again decides his way of doing God's will is better than what God clearly said to do. Letting the people barbecue the captured livestock definitely moved Saul up in the popularity polls. He said, "I feared the people and obeyed their voice." He still seeks public honor even when he knows his reign will not continue: "...honor me now before the elders of my people" (15:30). Here's a biblical principle: we are not walking in faith as long as we are seeking the approval of people (i.e., receiving "glory" from them, cf John 5:44), or when we try to avoid their disapproval to the point that we disobey God. Though it seems that Saul is king only for a little while, his reign actually lasted forty years. God was patient with Saul (Rom 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9), and continued to give blessing to the nation.
REFLECT. Who's your audience? What person or crowd do you play to? Whose opinions matter? In Saul's day, in Jesus' day, and in our day, the Lord asks, "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" (John 5:44) Further, do you give thanks for God's kindness, forbearance, and patience toward you and others? Are you in the same way being patient toward others?
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1)
REAL WORSHIP. We should note that in the original text there were no chapter or verse divisions. So, "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen..." (11:36) is followed immediately by "I appeal to you therefore, brothers..." (12:1). The Apostle Paul has written about God's "mercies" toward them (and us, chapters 1 through 11) so that, acting upon them rather than any sense of self-righteousness or personal piety we might love and serve God freely with all of our heart. We should make sure that our minds are being transformed by truth (12:2) but that also our bodies (attitudes, actions, habits, deeds) are surrendered up for the Lord's service. When we think of worship we often think only of singing, which is one activity of worship, but real worship involves a whole-life response to God's grace and mercy given to us in his Son Jesus.
PRACTICAL THEOLOGY. Chapter 12 begins to make practical applications to the things taught in chapters one through eleven. Chapter 12 seems to focus on individual and church behavior, and chapter 13 on behavior toward the state, society, and surrounding culture. All of these applications, in both chapters, are directly applicable to the believer today. They are clear and succinct.
REFLECT. What is the relationship between worship and behavior? What admonitions from these chapters stand out to you most?
Image credit. Photo by Ave Calvar on Unsplash. 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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