It was just another Monday morning in my dorm room, except that it wasn’t. I could see the Fall morning light peeping through our 8th story blinds as my roommate woke me up with the blast of her blow dryer. All normal things, except this day was different. I needed to make a very important decision, a life-altering one. I had to decide whether I would major in Nursing or Exercise Science to become a Physical Therapist. I had declared Exercise Science my major at the start of college, but it wasn’t long before I began to doubt my choice. I was utterly confused about what I wanted to do, and I needed to make a decision with spring registration just a week away.
How would I decide? As I was pondering that question, I immediately started asking the Lord what I should do. That still, small nudging from the Holy Spirit within turned my gaze to the Bible sitting on my desk nearby. “All right, Lord,” I thought, “I will give this a try.” I opened my Bible coincidentally to Acts 3:1-10. As I was reading about Peter healing a lame man, my heart stopped. I read the end of verse 7 and into verse 8, “…the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk!” I remember thinking, “God, did you just speak to me?” I had asked Him to give me a clear answer about Nursing or Physical Therapy, and out of all passages of Scripture, this one fit. Was God using this passage to tell me to continue pursuing Physical Therapy? How could I be sure?
This was the first time I remember God clearly speaking to me through His Word about something I was specifically praying about and seeking Him for an answer on. Since then, there have been hundreds of times that God has used His commandments to speak directly to me by convicting me of sin in my life or leading me in an important decision; but it seems that almost every time I struggle with understanding what God is telling me and then obeying in faith. I find myself being a biblical skeptic instead of trusting God through His Word. How often do we wrestle with real doubts and questions about Scripture?
Recently as I was reading in 1 Samuel 15, the Lord showed me through King Saul’s example how we progressively struggle with trusting God’s Word. Earlier in 1 Samuel we see that the people of Israel complained to God’s prophet, Samuel, about wanting to be like other nations with a human king to follow. They rejected God as their king and coveted the idolatrous nations around them, so God gave them an earthly king named Saul. From the very beginning, Saul was full of fear because he did not trust God, and he sought to lead the people according to his own plan. We see his breaking point as king in 1 Samuel 15 when God rejects Saul because he rejected the Word of the Lord. Verses 22-23 are God’s reaction to Saul’s sin. We can learn from Saul’s example how we, too, reject God’s Word on a daily basis.
Saul Misunderstood the Purpose of God’s Word
Verse 22 says, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Saul did not understand that God’s desire for His Word is to bring about obedience in our lives that protects us from sin, not earthly sacrifices in our own power that lead us into greater sin.
Saul Presumed What God’s Word Said
Verse 23a says, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”
Saul made a rash decision in the moment following the Israelite victory over the Amalekites. Samuel did not show up to tell Saul what God said to do, so he presumed God would want him to offer sacrifices with the animals they had not killed in battle, even though God had already commanded him to slaughter everything in battle. He also saved the life of the wicked king of the Amalekites instead of killing him as God had instructed. Saul did not know or seek God and His Word for himself, but he always relied on Samuel to be God’s messenger, and to deliver and interpret God’s Word for him. You may be thinking, “Samuel was God’s prophet who God chose to speak through at this time,” which is a valid point. But, if we look at the example of King David who came right after Saul, we see that David sought the Lord on his own, and God honored that by speaking to him personally just as God still does with us today. When we have a direct word from the LORD, it is a lot easier to have clarity for faithful obedience in our daily circumstances.
Saul Rejected the Word of the Lord
Verse 23b says, “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.”
Because Saul did not know God’s Word or seek God to speak to him personally, he fell into sin and was rejected by God. How often do we rely on others in our lives to hear, understand, and apply God’s word? Just like I questioned God’s direction for my decision about choosing a major in college, or you might be doubting the seriousness of sin in a dating relationship because he’s super cute, each of us will question and reject God’s Word when we do not study it to know God and trust Him. We are tempted, like Saul, to rely on others for our Scripture intake instead of seeking it for ourselves.
Sister in Christ, how are you questioning and rejecting God’s Word in your own life? Are you spending time in God’s Word everyday for Him to speak to you personally? Or are you relying on secondhand sources like church leaders or parents to hear from God so you can then obey Him? When you don’t understand, do you seek God for clarity or do you let the other things in life keep you too busy to pursue understanding? Saul misunderstood, presumed, and ultimately rejected God’s Word, and we know there is danger in our spiritual walk if we follow his example. If we ever want our lives to be truly, freely, and joyfully obedient, we must stop being skeptics and accept God’s Word personally instead of rejecting it!
Father, help me to accept Your living Word by reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it, and praying it every day of my life! Let it be living water to my soul and fresh bread for my body. Let me delight in it as sweet honey in my mouth.
1 Timothy 4:4
2 Timothy 3:16
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney – chapters on Bible Intake
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung