Friday, May 30, 2008

The Good Stuff or the God Stuff




“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry...” – 1 Samuel 15:23


When I was a little girl safety for children wasn’t where it is today. There were no age limit on toys, no electrical outlet covers, and cars had cigarette lighters even in the back seat where the kids sat. My parents had to become the FDA, EPA, and CPS agencies, in addition to being parents. One of the things I heard repeatedly was “Faithie, leave that lighter alone! You’ll get burned!”

But it was pretty. When you pushed it in, it would glow bright red! And it popped out when it was done! POP! I loved to hear that sound. It was like having my own forbidden toy. When they’d go in the grocery store and leave me in the car (yes, we did that back then!), I’d push in the lighter and count to see how long before POP! Out it would come! The temptation was too great.

One day while they were in the grocery I decided to pretend I was smoking. I’d seen my parents do it, and it looked cool! I pushed in the lighter, and POP! I picked it up, and pretending I had a cigarette in my mouth, touched it to the side of my face right beside my lips! I still have the scar from the burn today.

We often seek to chase after temptations when we should just be obedient to what we’re told. Saul had the same problem. In 1 Samuel 15:2-3 God spoke to Saul and told him he was going to punish Amalek for what he’d done to Israel. Through that punishment, Saul was instructed to go and attack Amalek, and to “…utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

God’s rule was simple. Kill them all. Spare nothing. But Saul found the temptation to be too great. When he saw the possessions of the Amalekites, he found things his heart desired. I can just see Saul going into the land, and saying “Wow! Look how fluffy and fat these sheep are! Oh, my! Look how large the cattle are! I could sure enjoy myself a good steak from one of those cows!” No doubt when he saw the oxen he must have thought “It would be a shame to destroy such strong animals – especially when I could use them!”

We often choose the “good stuff” over the “God stuff”. God’s rewards to Saul were cut off because Saul decided to be disobedient to the commands of God and spared the best of the livestock, and even King Agag. Instead of receiving God’s favor and blessings, Saul brought upon himself punishment. God instructed Samuel, a prophet who dearly loved Saul, to speak to him about his sin. In 1 Samuel 15:23 he is told “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

Rebellion is a form of idolatry. Rebellion occurs when we remove God from the throne of our hearts and take His seat. We make ourselves god of our life. When we choose to disobey, we are punished just as Saul was. Saul was dethroned by God and replaced by King David for his sin. Without God’s favor, Saul’s joy was gone. He became emotionally scarred by the punishment he received. We carry the scars from such disobedience too much like I carry the scar from the cigarette lighter.


Lord, help us to remember that your ways and your thoughts are higher than ours. Help us to trust in your will rather than our own. We know that only you see the future and know what is best. Thank you Father for seeking to give us peace, joy, and prosperity. Forgive us when we get in the way of those blessings. Have mercy and patience on our sinful hearts Father! Grant us wisdom so that we may become your obedient children. Amen.

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