"And Saul said, ‘Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings.' And he offered the burnt offering."
I Samuel 13: 9, King James Version
"Peace and comfort can be found no where except in simple obedience."
If I had been in King Saul's position, how do I think I would have acted?
Would I have obediently waited until Samuel arrived or would I have "done my own thing"?
"The fundamental deception of Satan is the lie that obedience can never bring happiness."
R. C. Sproul
"The evidence of knowing God is obeying God."
Because my husband's parents were what are called "immigrants," meaning they were not born here in the United States, when they arrived in this country from Cuba in 1949, they only knew how to speak Spanish. The first thing they both did was enroll in classes which helped them learn "conversational" English. It didn't take long for them to learn how to communicate very well in English.
However, writing was another thing. My father-in-law, who turned ninety this year, still reminds me it is very difficult to understand certain grammar issues which are present in the English language. One of the most confusing things, he points out, is that there are quite a number of words in English, which are spelled identically but have several different meanings.
I've used one of those words today in the title of our devotional, "Relative Obedience." The word "relative" can mean someone I'm "related" to, like an uncle or aunt or mother or father. But the word "relative" also means, "regarded in relationship to something else; comparative."
It's as if you are comparing one circumstance or situation to another. And this is what we see happening in our text today. King Saul chose to take a certain course of action, "relative" to what was going on around him at the time. Because Samuel did not arrive on time or exactly when he said he would, Saul decided he would change his course of behavior. Furthermore, because the people were scattering like lost sheep without a shepherd, Saul made the choice to take action with the hope of gathering everyone around himself in a show of unity. What dictated all of Saul's action was not Godly principles being applied and followed, but instead it was the circumstances Saul found himself in at the moment.
When I was young there was a popular term for decisions which were made based on the situation you found yourself in. This term was called: "Situational Ethics." Some of you may be too young to have heard this phrase. In simple terms it means your ethics or your moral judgments are based on the situation you find yourself in, not on what God has required. In the case of "situational ethics," obedience to God's rules applies only if it works well in a particular situation. It isn't following God's direction that counts. It's how I choose to apply God's instruction to a particular situation. Perhaps, if I feel that God's rules don't fit the way I'd like or are out-dated in a more contemporary society, then I become the one who matches my behavior to each situation I encounter. I'm in control, or so I'd like to think. I run the show. I have the power to do as I choose. And this is the very choice King Saul made. It didn't matter that God had been very particular in assigning the priesthood to the tribe of Levi - and Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. What's more, it didn't matter that as instructed by Samuel, who was instructed by God, Saul had been directly told to wait until the priest arrived to offer the burnt offering. Just because things didn't work out the way King Saul wanted - he decided he would change his behavior to fit the situation, regardless of Samuel or God's advice.
Sadly, this wasn't the only time King Saul decided obedience was obsolete. And the consequences were tragic, not only in his life but in the lives of the children of Israel. How quickly Saul lost his footing as power went to his head and clouded his judgment. He thought that as the king, he had the right to make all the decisions and do as he wished.
Not long ago, I was reading from a book entitled, Perfect Freedom by Jane Williams. She addressed the issue of obedience by looking at the life of Jesus. I found her thoughts so powerful because if anyone ever walked this earth who contained the power of heaven, it was Jesus Christ, Immanuel, "God With Us." Certainly, when tempted by Satan in the desert after 40 days of fasting, Jesus could have succumbed to the human temptation to apply "situational ethics" to all three of the temptations he was confronted with, but He didn't. And Jane Williams offers an extremely insightful perspective on why Jesus followed the will of His Father in strict obedience and why you and I should do the same:
"Jesus shows us what we are meant to be. He shows us that we are created for a life of intimate relationship with God, and that that relationship makes us what we truly are. We know Jesus to be the Son of God because he is obedient to God, not because he has power. We know that, because he was willing to be obedient and to allow himself to be defined in relation to God, not on his own terms."
Children of the King obey because of "Who" they are related to, not relative to what they are confronted with. It is only in obedience to our Father that we find our true freedom to do and be what God wants.
"One act of obedience is better than a hundred sermons."
"My gracious Lord, I own Thy right
To every service I can pay;
And call it my supreme delight
To hear Thy dictates and obey."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at discount for your Women's Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please call: 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.