This is Celia C. Tillman bringing you greetings and encouragement from the Honey-Comb of Praises.
Our lesson for this month is OBEDIENCE VERSES EXCUSES. Many of us make excuses when we try to justify the wrongness, or sin that we commit. I can remember lectures given by my mother on lying and being trust worthy. She would say, “If something is not yours, don’t take it, but ask if you want it, and if you take it you are a thief.” However, many times as young children and even adults try to justify or rationalize why they choose to disobey those that have their best interest at heart. I can remember when I was thirteen years old there was a pink chest where my Mother always kept her lingerie and keep-sakes. I would often look into the pink chest admiring the things that was so neatly placed. One morning, however, I was getting dress for school, and I looked into the pink chest; took my Mother’s pink hip-slip (half slip) and wore it to school. I felt no remorse at the time but justified in wearing it because I had to dress out for Physical Education (PE). It wasn’t like I had no undergarments of my own but mine was old, and I wanted to impress the girls in the locker room. However later that day, I placed the slip back into the pink chest. The Bible teaches that our sins will find us out, (Numbers 32:23). How naïve I was to think that my Mother wouldn’t find me out.
To make a long story short, my Mother did find me out and she read me my “writs” and promised to get back with me later; I knew what later meant, long and drawn out like the prisoner on death row. However, days passed and the agony of waiting was miserable for me. However, three days later, I was awaken out of my sleep; the covers were pulled back off of me, and three long “switches,” or flexible twigs plaited together came down upon my body. The rest of the story is history because I learned a valuable lesson, that when you are disobedient there are consequences that will follow.
Such was the case of King Saul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, and the first anointed King of Israel. Saul made many unwise decisions like many of us today. Many of us make decisions without first consulting God and blame him for our poor reasoning. Israel wanted a king like all of the sinful nations around and about them,( I Samuel 8:1-5). This however, displeased the Prophet Samuel and he went before the Lord God who advised Samuel to tell them what a king will do unto them: (1) He will take your sons, and appoint them to be in his army. Some will ride in his chariots, some will serve in the cavalry, and some will run ahead of his chariots, (2) Some of them will be captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, (3) Some will have to farm the king’s land and harvest his crops or make weapons and parts for his chariots; (4) Your daughter will make perfume and do his cooking and baking, (4) He will take a tenth of your grain and grapes and give it to his official and officers, (5) He will take your slaves and your best young men; your donkeys and make them do his work, (6) He will take a tenth of your sheep and goats, (7) You will become the king’s slaves, and finally (8) You will cry out for the Lord to save you from the king you wanted; I will not hear you,( Samuel 8:11-18).
King Saul had begun to act wickedly, and didn’t follow the instructions of the Lord God. Samuel, the Prophet, had given Saul instructions right after he anointed him king to go to Gil-gal and wait for seven
Days and he would come; offer burnt offerings and peace offerings, (I Samuel 10:1, 8). When Samuel didn’t arrive at the said time then Saul ordered the men to bring him the burnt offering and peace offerings that he may offer it himself. However, when Saul had finished the sacrifice, Samuel arrived and said to Saul, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and you didn’t come at the set time, and the Philistines were gathered at Michmash, and I thought that the Philistines would come down upon me at Gilgal and I have not made supplication to the Lord. Therefore I felt compelled, and offered the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandments of the Lord your God which he commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever but now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and the Lord commanded him to be captain over his people because you have not kept that which was commanded you,” (I Samuel 13:8-14). Saul also disobeyed when he was told to utterly destroy the Amalekites but spared King Agag, and the best of the sheep; oxen, (I Samuel 15:3, 8-26
Listen Ladies, we can’t take it upon ourselves to solve our problems without God. Why couldn’t King Saul wait on God? He was told to do so by the Prophet Samuel, who was the messenger, of God. Even at an early age Samuel was brought up in the temple and acted as judge, priest and prophet. Saul was only a king and he wasn’t instructed to offer up sacrifices to the Lord. We have an example in (2 Chronicles 26:17-21) where Azariah the priest and eighty other brave priest withstood Uzziah the king; told him it was wrong for him to burn incense to the Lord in the sanctuary, and this duty was only to be performed by the priest. Uzziah became angry and refused to leave the temple. After he was struck with leprosy he left the temple and remained a leper until his death. Also he was not allowed in the temple nor in his own palace.
When we approach God with our excuses, of why we act in a sinful manner, he isn’t impressed or concerned with our behavior. We can’t bribe God or impress him with our foolishness. God knows the intent of every man’s heart, (Psalm 139:1-4). Saul, and Uzziah were both kings and they both knew the law but seem to have lost sight of who God was.
Today many of us have lost sight of who God is and we give him many excuses for our actions. King Saul excuses were that he was losing soldiers, the Philistine army was gathering in Michmash, and Samuel had not come in what he thought was the appointed time. Therefore he had become impatience and thought the Philistines might attack before the sacrifice could be made. He had forgotten about the power of God and started focusing on his own strength in winning the battle with the Philistines. We are sometimes impulsive in our spending, decision making, and with our time. We have allowed Satan to put blinders over our eyes that we cannot see that we give God just a small amount of our time but the world much of our time.
There are many valuable lessons that can be gathered or gleaned from this lesson, (1) God deserves our full attention and obedience, (2) It takes much patience to follow God’s word, (3)There are negative consequences when we try to follow our way without consulting God’s way first. The Bible teaches that a
“Good understanding giveth favor: but the way of the transgressor is hard,” (Proverb 13:15). Yes, when we choose to disobey God, we suffer, spiritually, and mentally (emotionally). King Uzziah made the wrong decision or his pride caused him to suffer physically because he disobeyed God in going into the temple to offer sacrifices to God. He knew the law concerning the Leviticus Priesthood but was lifted with pride because he was the king. He took on the role of a priest and suffered ever after with a serious skin disease, (leprosy). Jotham, his son succeeded him as king. As for Saul, he was succeeded by King David, the son of Jesse and a “man after God’s own heart,” (I Samuel 13:14) and (Acts 13:22)
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION
- Why was Samuel able to act as a priest in anointing King Saul? Explain
- Of what Tribe was King Saul? Explain
- Why did Samuel tell King Saul that he had done, “foolishly”? Explain
- What was Saul punishment for not waiting on Samuel? Explain
- If we steal or take something that doesn’t belong to us, what negative consequences come from this attitude? Explain
- What was King Uzziah punishment when he went into the temple to offer up sacrifice to God? Explain
- Why is it better to confess our sins rather than make excuses for our wicked behavior before God? Explain
- Do you think that Saul understood the instruction that Samuel had given him? Explains
- Do you think that the Israelites were afraid because of the strength of the Philistine military Power? (b) Who were the Israelites to put their trust in? Explain
- Have you ever made a decisions without consulting God? Explain
- What did God mean when he said, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart? Explain
- In order to please God what must we do? Explain