"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being King."
I Samuel 15: 23, King James Version
"The Sin of Stubborn Rebellion"
Rebellion: A defiance or opposition to any kind of authority.
Stubbornness: Refusing to yield, obey, or comply. Resisting doggedly or unreasonably.
What do I personally think rebellion means?
Have I ever found myself rebelling against God's will in my life?
"Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land…Their defense and the shadow of protection is removed over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not."
Numbers 14: 9, Amplified Bible
"Woe to them, for they have wandered from Me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled and trespassed against Me! Though I would redeem them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They do not cry to Me from their heart, but they wail upon their beds; they gash and distress and assemble themselves in mourning for grain and new wine; they rebel against Me. Although I have chastened them and trained and strengthened their arms, yet they think and devise evil against Me. They turn back, shift or change but not upwards to the Most High."
Hosea 7: 13-16, Amplified Bible
He had such potential and so much promise. Tall, handsome and chosen by God to be the first king of Israel, Saul began his rulership with everything going for him.
How often in this world we live in, we see the same thing happening, quite possibly even in our own lives, for God's calling has been extended to every person at some point in their life. But with choices laid before us, too often, the road taken is a destructive one. And this is the lesson we learn from the life of Saul.
Our text today is critical in our continuing study over the next few days because we are going to find out that Jesus' words in Matthew 6: 24 (Amplified Bible) have a very practical application in your life and mine: "No one can serve two masters; for either (she) will hate the one and love the other, or (she) will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other."
When Saul made his personal choice to reject the word of God, he did so at his own peril. And as I Samuel 15: 23 warns, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." If we take the words "rebellion," witchcraft," "stubbornness," "iniquity," and "idolatry" and go to the Hebrew translation of I Samuel 15: 23, this text reads as follows: "For grievous disobedience brings bitterness and is like the sin of divination." For those of you who have come to the garden for a while, this phrase calls for the word, "STOP." I went to the dictionary to find the exact meaning of the word "divination" and in Latin this word means, "to make divine," or make "something from the gods." Before we think this word has God's holiness associated with it, let's be clear - just the opposite is the case. When we rebel by disobeying God, we cross over from the heavenly to the worldly.
But there's more to I Samuel 15: 23. The text continues with "Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." Translated from the Hebrew we find this phrase means that I, "press myself with great exertion toward wicked, unrighteousness that comes to nothing." And one last piece of very important information is that the word "idolatry" in this text specifically points to "family images or idols." If we remember past studies, even God's chosen judges, like Gideon, fashioned an ephod that became a family image that brought nothingness to his family. It was an earthly idol which demeaned God's holiness.
The reason it is so important for us to clearly understand this text is that one of the next decisions Saul made after he "turned away," rebelliously from God, was to "cast his lot" with the other side when he decided he would seek assistance from the witch of Endor who was a woman committed to taking knowledge from "familiar spirits" and turning it into earthly counsel. When Saul turned away from God, he chose to walk in the opposite direction, and what a tragedy for himself and his family.
As I was studying about the dangerous consequences of rebellion against our heavenly Father, I came upon something rather interesting. In all the Christian books of quotations, there wasn't one quote that referred to the word "rebellion." In fact, in one of the most comprehensive Christian quotation reference books, the word "rebellion" isn't even listed. Yet, and here's what surprised me, I found 98 texts in the Bible where the words rebel, rebellious, rebellion, and rebels are used. And what's more, many times these texts are a warning from our heavenly Father against "rebellion" or what is grievous disobedience. One Hebrew translation calls "rebellion" -- "Marah," which is defined as bitterness. It is apparent to me that even if we humans don't have a lot to say about rebellion and stubbornness, our Heavenly Father does and He considers these traits serious, indeed.
Saul's disobedience -- his stubborn rebellion -- brought bitterness to his life and ultimately left him with nothing but the false gods of earthly idolatry.
While we sometimes are led to believe God's advice sounds too demanding or even arbitrary, what we find as we study the lives of God's children down through history is that casting our lot with the earthly by acts of stubborn rebellion brings us bitterness and leaves us with nothingness.
Thank God we don't have to stay in this state. As David so beautifully wrote, "The Lord has done great things for us! We are glad! Turn to freedom our captivity!" (Psalm 126: 3, 4, Amplified Bible) It's our choice, just as it was Saul's, who we choose to turn to.
"All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow down and worship before You."
Psalm 22: 27, Amplified Bible
From Psalm 78
"We will tell each generation all that You, our God, have done; how You called and led us, chose us out to be Your own:
Tell the times of our rebelling - how we wandered from Your way, how Your law our love compelling taught us humbly to obey:
Tell how once, when spite and terror threatened to engulf our land, You defended us with vigour, saved us by a mighty hand.
Tell the grace that falls from heaven, angels' food as faith's reward; tell how sins may be forgiven through the mercy of the Lord."
Psalms for Today
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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