Week of April 12

Behold, Your Righteous King!

Read: 1 Samuel 13; 1 Chronicles 2-3; 2 Corinthians 12

"But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
1 Samuel 13:14, ESV


“All hail King Jesus. All Hail Emmanuel. King of Kings, Lord of Lords. . .” are lyrics to a powerful chorus that celebrate the universal and eternal reign of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It seems like we are ever in search of just the right leader, but we too often fail to seek God’s light and direction in that search. Our focal passage today begs the supreme life question, “Who will lead us?” Let’s examine the answer to this question today.

A Biblical Lens

Saul’s “can-do” spirit exposed a serious flaw in his character. He failed the “wait on the Lord” test as soon as he saw that his troops were defecting (1 Samuel 10:8; 13:6-7, 8-9). The size of the Philistine enemy signaled urgency, so he usurped Samuel’s rightful role and began offering the sacrifice unto God (13:9). There is a thin line between relying on the Lord with all our “hearts” and failing to wait for His go-ahead in a desperate moment. Saul failed on both sides of the line! Please do not miss the deeper theological point. Saul personified the prideful attitude of disobedience that Israel’s kings would largely demonstrate and that its prophets would decry (cf. HCBC). That was the stumbling stone for him, and it is for so many of us, our churches, and our wider denominational structures.

Furthermore, Saul feared the Philistines more than he revered God. They had advanced military strength that was dreaded in that region (13:5). He also trusted what he saw with his eyes rather than what God had promised. For example, the opposing army was described as being like “sand on the seashore”; however, God had also promised the same thing! (Genesis 22:17). He was sincere in his efforts but failed miserably in following God’s requirements. He made a big mistake in believing that the sacrifice was what God wanted. Nowhere in the Old Testament is there a clear example where “sought the favor of” God used in a context where sacrifice was the necessary means for achieving this desire! (Exodus 32:11; 1 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 13:4; 2 Chronicles 33:12; Psalm 119:58; Jeremiah 26:19; Daniel 9:13; Zechariah 7:2; 8:21-22; Malachi 1:9; EBC). The required element was obedience to God’s word (See 15:22).

Read Robert Bergen’s analysis: "The events included in the telling of this episode serve to create a tragic parallel between Saul and Adam (cf. Gen 3). Both men were the heads of their respective social institutions; both violated commands given them by the Lord; both expressed an unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their actions. Because of sin Adam lost the opportunity for eternal life in the garden; for the same cause Saul lost the opportunity for an enduring dynasty in the Promised Land" (NAC). So, who will lead us?

God desired a king who would trust him wholeheartedly (13:14). Is there such a person? Indeed, there is such a person! David would follow Saul and become the model for the king who would obey God’s will precisely as God directed. Our risen Savior, in times of great trial, relied totally upon God’s word and will (Matthew 4:4; 26:49; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus could have summoned an army of angels to rescue him in his hour of suffering, but He laid down his life in complete trust of the Father (Matthew 26:53; 64).

The scripture reminds us, God’s pilgrim people, in our hour of great trial, that Jesus is risen! (Matthew 28:6). Say it aloud with me, “He is risen!” Pride, rebellion, sin, death, and the grave overcame the first Adam, but praise be to God that Jesus gained for us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). We have before us our King!

A Moral Pathway

April 7 was designated “World Health Day” where the efforts of nurses and midwives were celebrated. Indeed, nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. Their frontline efforts provide care and hope to countless people who are battling this pandemic and a host of other illnesses. Cynda Rushton, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Berman Institute of Bioethics, speaking with regard to the nursing role in the current pandemic, has stated that “Nurses are often the last thread of compassion for patients.”

However, nurses are facing serious challenges to their profession’s moral ethos—individual patient care. Circumstances beyond their control are requiring them to adapt their professional mission to preserve scarce resources and to maximize good for the many. They, as a result, are experiencing moral distress because they feel like they have compromised their integrity. My heart grieves for them! Here is my spiritual segue.

Today, April 12, is the day set aside this year to celebrate the redemptive work of King Jesus. He offers unending compassion for us. Christ provided precisely what dying sinners needed by offering himself sacrificially for sins. This was His mission. Sin and death were out of control and there were no human resources sufficient to redeem us. He succeeded because the eternal resources of the Heavenly Father were sufficient for all who would believe (Isaiah 53:11-12; cf. Luke 2:28-38). Friends, thanks be to God. He bore our griefs, and we have our healing in Him (Isaiah 53:5). Our hearts rejoice in Him today.

For Your Journaling

1. Write down a paragraph of praise to God for the perfect offering of the Savior as a sacrifice for your sin.

2. Observe Saul's failures. Commit yourself afresh to follow your risen King Jesus. State ways that you will demonstrate obedience to His will and trust in Him.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock