Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - April 29 - "But the People..."

When Israel made its way out of the oppressive land of Egypt, a fierce people called the Amalekites attacked the long caravan of the Hebrews (Ex. 17:8-16). God made a promise that some day the Amalekites would pay for this attack, and in Deut. 25:17-19 we learn why the Lord was so angry. Amalek attacked the "tail" of Israel, the end of the caravan, which would have meant the elderly and sick, women and little children. For that outrage, Amalek was to pay the price of retributive justice (1 Sam. 15:1-3), and Saul was the be the instrument of God's wrath.

God gave Israel victory, but "Saul and the people" (1 Sam. 15:9) spared the Amalekite king, Agag, along with the best of the livestock. In spite of this insubordination, Saul had the audacity to build a monument to himself! (1 Sam. 15:12)

The sad story that unfolds in 1 Samuel 15 is one of stubborn refusal to admit wrong doing.
  • In 15:13 Saul declares that he has performed the commandment of the Lord.
  • In 15:14-15 when God's prophet, Samuel, asks Saul why he hears animals, Saul blames the people for sparing the flock (even though the text plainly says he did this in v. 9), and once again asserts he has been obedient.
  • In 15:16 Samuel essentially says for Saul to "Shut up!" ("Stop!"), rebukes him for his disobedience.
  • In 15:20-21 Saul has the gall to disagree with Samuel and again say he was obedient, and once again blames the people for the spoil.
It is not until 15:24 that Saul finally says "I have sinned," and even then he still blames the people for what happened ("I feared the people and obeyed their voice").

God can forgive and use even the chiefest of sinners. But what can be done for a person who repeatedly refuses to acknowledge they are in the wrong, and constantly blames others for their mistakes? There is nothing left for the Lord to do but to reject them - because such an attitude shows that they have rejected Him (1 Sam. 15:26).

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