Tuesday, 1 December 2009

independence hardening to rebellion

I have just finished rereading 1 Samuel. Tracing Saul's spiral into disaster is a sobering read. This was the man who was uniquely chosen by God to be the leader of His people. He was chosen to take the battle to the Philistines and bring deliverance to Israel. The final chapter tells the tragic outcome of the story; Israel in flight and Saul and this three sons dead; at the hands of those same Philistines. How could such a thing happen to a man who is initially 'tailor made' for God's purpose?

There are at least three key markers to his descent into chaos. The first took place at Gilgal. That itself is significant. Gilgal had a history; it was the place where the people of Israel crossed into the promised land and their first action was to cripple all their soldiers! The temporary crippling was occasioned by the rite of circumcision, a ceremony which has many significances but may be summed up as Paul did in Phil 3:3 "(we) have no confidence in the flesh". I will not retell the story of 1 Samuel 13 but it showed Saul as a man of personal 'resource'. When God did not turn up, in the person of Samuel, he just carried on without Him. Oswald Chambers identified Saul's first sin, like Adam's, as 'independence'. It was an act of 'good, common sense' in the context but it marked Saul as a man who was prepared to innovate and choose his own way. He would do the 'will of God' but in his own way. The seeds of all that follow are found here.

Later in his story, 1 Samuel 15, Saul is given a commission to destroy the ancient enemies of God's purpose. Again Saul 'adapts' the commandment given to him and compromises God's plan. This time Samuel identifies it as 'rebellion' and 'stubbornness'. Independence has hardened into outright rebellion; it always does.

The final key marker finds Saul bereft of God's counsel but still determining to carry on. God has refused to speak to him by dream, or ephod or prophet but Saul is determined to get an answer. For Saul, the end will justify the means. He seeks out a medium, 1 Samuel 28, who summons Samuel from the grave but Samuel has no guiding word for him, only a death sentence.

The story of Saul covers about 40 years and has been preserved in the scriptures as a solemn warning and admonition. Single acts of independence can produce devastating harvests if they are not checked by genuine repentance and a willingness, in the disciple, to listen and obey his master's voice.

1 comment:

hulsey said...

It's frightening how deep the seed of sin goes into a human heart. We can become so deceived that even our perceived obedience is rebellion.