• Matt Beaney

DEVOTIONAL 2 - STOP GRIEVING OVER SAUL (17/11/19)

Updated: Nov 21, 2019


CONTENTS

1. Come to Jesus Daily Devotional (A daily devotional for Monday through Friday)

2. Community Group/Family Devotional


This week, as part of this series on David, we will consider king Saul, whom David will replace on the throne. Saul is presented in contrast to David. David is a ‘man after God's own heart’ whilst Saul, although starting off well, becomes prideful and rebellious. Both biographies are included because we are to learn from both good and bad examples. It's easy to begin our Christian lives with great zeal for God. However, Saul confronts us with the danger of losing our way, becoming embittered, jealous, prideful... This couldn't happen to me you say! Let Pauls words provide both a warning – we can all fall into sin; and a promise – by grace we can and will stand.

'These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.' (1 Cor. 10:12)

1. Come to Jesus Daily Devotional


MONDAY – WHO WILL RULE YOU?


In 1 Samuel 8, spiritual leadership in Israel was in a mess. Samuel the priest was faithful, but his sons had ‘turned aside’ and were sinning against God. In response we read,

‘So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”’ (1 Sam. 8:4-5).

The people will always become unfaithful if the leaders are unfaithful. They wanted to be like the other nations; they were not content to be led by God, through the prophets, they wanted to be like the other nations - led by a human being. The account continues,

‘But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.  And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.  As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you”’ (1 Sam. 8:6-8).

The request for a king was rejecting ‘God as their king’.


Who rules in your life?

‘Self-rule’ is something that we all have to fight against - we all reject God as king in aspects of our lives, and it’s the Holy Spirit’s role, through the word (bible) to reveal the ground that needs to be given back to Jesus.

It’s through God’s word that James speaks of the bible as a mirror - it shows who we truly are and what we need to become. He writes,

‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.’ (James 1:22-25).

However, like Israel in this account, we can promote things over God’s rule, through His word. Christians and churches demote the bible and put psychology, business techniques, and worldly philosophy in its place; too often we are like Israel in this account who say, ‘give us a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have’.


RESPONSE

How do we make Jesus’ Lordship over our lives a reality? Perhaps a good approach to this, is to regularly use The Lord’s Prayer, to re-centre our lives under God’s rule. Let’s briefly look at this prayer.


Please read Matthew 6:9-13

Try to express each phrase in your own words, I’ve written a few pointers to help you.

  • Our Father in heaven - You are my ‘heavenly Father’ - you love me, have authority over me and all things…”

  • Hallowed be your Name - May I, and all people worship you…”

  • Your kingdom come - Be my king, over all aspect of my Life…”

  • “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – I commit to doing your will today…”

  • Give us today our daily bread - I depend on you, please would you provide…”

  • And forgive us our debts - I ask you to forgive where I’ve strayed...”

  • As we also have forgiven our debtors - Keep me from bitterness, I choose to forgive…”

  • And lead us not into temptation - keep me from going my own way…”

  • But deliver us from the evil one - Keep me from the devil’s dominion, may I serve you only…”

  • For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. - Again, I express that you are king and my king...”

Those who regularly come to God and pray things like this will be kept from becoming like God’s people here who wanted a king like the nations; we will also be kept from desiring to rule themselves and living a life of selfishness and sin.

TUESDAY – SAUL WAS IMPRESSIVE


God answers the people’s request for a king, we read,

‘There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.’(1 Samuel 9:1-2)

Initially, Saul looks like the right man for the job of king. Let’s look at some of his impressive attributes,

  • He was a born of a respected family (9:1)

  • He was handsome (9:2)He was a young man (9:2)

  • He was physically impressive being ‘taller than anyone’. (9:2)

  • Initially he seems to show humility (9:21; 10:22) - however this lowly attitude toward himself is coopted into ugly insecurity - he becomes a people-pleaser!

  • God ‘changed his heart…the Spirit came powerfully on him’. (10:9-10)

  • God’s choice was further confirmed by lots (10:20-24)

  • He was popular (10:24)

  • His reign begins with a great victory which involved the Spirit of God coming powerfully on him (11:1-11).

  • He showed mercy to his detractors (11:13)

God, through Samuel encourages and warns Saul and the people,

Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.” (1 Sam. 12:24)

We all have God-given potential

Saul’s story is not recorded because it’s interesting. It’s not written so that we can judge other people by it. This biography is recorded to warn you and me personally and to warn our churches. We all have potential to serve God, which can also be misused and squandered through sin. Every Christian has ‘every spiritual blessing in Christ’, every church has the Spirit and His gifts available. All of us have access to the throne-room of heaven, and yet, if we become like Saul, we will waste what God has given to us.


RESPONSE

Firstly - don’t waste your life!

We are all like Saul. We all have opportunities and gifting. Saul’s story isn’t a cautionary tale for good-looking celebrity Christians; it warns all of us to keep submitting all that we are to God’s authority. Are you allowing God to rule over and use your life to serve Him in all areas?


Secondly - don’t idolise or seek to be a celebrity Christian.

God spoke through Jeremiah saying,

“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” (Jer. 45:5).

We are all prone to wanting glory and to being overly impressed with the wrong things. Our pride can lead us astray to self-promotion and filling our lives with the activities that will get us the most attention.

Let’s finish by meditating on these challenging words from the author to the Hebrews,

‘See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Heb. 3:12-15)

WEDNESDAY – SAUL WAS TRIPPED UP BY HIS OWN GLORY


In 1 Samuel 13 we begin to see Saul’s character and downfall.


Saul chooses to disobey God

Israel’s army is hard pressed and are becoming fearful (13:6-7). Then Saul decides to take things into his own hands,

‘He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.  So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.  Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. “What have you done?” (1 Sam. 13:8-11).

Saul usurps the role of the priest as he makes this rebellious offering. Saul’s actions reveal a ‘virtue signalling’ form of spirituality. He is not really seeking God for His help in this battle; rather, he wants to be seen to be seeking God for His help in this battle. Saul believes that the morale of the men is more important than actually seeking God.


Actions reveal Saul’s heart

Saul’s behaviour reveals a bad, self-centred heart. Because of this, God reveals that his kingship will end and that He will replace him with a ‘heart-man’ (David). Saul said,

“But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:14).

We get a further hint of Saul’s shallow devotion to God during the account of the defeat of the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14. Jonathan, Saul’s son, is contrasted with Saul as a man of faith in God as he daringly makes his attack on the Philistines. Saul, however, even though the priest is with him, does not seek God on what action to take (15:2-3). however, because of Jonathan, the Philistines are in retreat, we read,

‘Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites. While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” (1 Sam. 14:18-19).

Saul is revealed as a leader who does not have the humility, faith, patience…to seek God’s will in any serious way.

Saul’s vain heart is further revealed in 1 Samuel 15. Rather than destroying the Amalekites and all that belonged to them as God had commanded, he gave in to peer pressure by keeping the best of the things (15:15,24).


He has set up a monument to himself!

Samuel sets out to confront Saul for not obeying God in regard to the Amalekites,

‘Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honour and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.’ (1 Samuel 15:12)

Who sets up a monument in their own honour? What kind of person does this? In reality, we can all fall into this kind of Saulish behaviour.

Saul was devoted to his own brand. In modern terms, he or she is a social climber; they act and dress in ways that are designed to boost their status; they are devoted to their social media following - not for the glory of God but for the glory of themselves!


Please honour me

The account continues, with Saul making his excuses for why he has not completely destroyed the Amalekites,

‘Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.’ (1 Sam. 15:24)

Saul seems to respond well, but deeper analysis reveals otherwise. Saul was a people-pleaser. He was more concerned with people’s estimation of him than he was of God’s. Those who are self-obsessed, will only serve God when it suits their reputation. Saul’s words are very telling,

‘Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”  So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.’ (1 Sam. 15:30-31)

Saul’s reveals that he is not really sorrowful over his sin. Saul wants Samuel to worship with him before the people for the sake of his reputation.


RESPONSE

Let’s be clear, we can all fall into ‘Saulishness’: we can all seek our own glory and reputation. We can all be tripped up by people-pleasing. How can we protect ourselves from this? There’s lots we could say on this, but let’s simply learn from Saul’s mistakes.


  • Don’t become your own priest – Saul took the place of the priest. This is to worship in ways that we have made up rather than listening to God. For the Christian the offerings of the priest point to the cross - to the gospel. Let’s not, like Saul, make up how and what we offer to Him; Christians have one priest -Jesus, we have one offering - His blood! Pride is crushed as we remember the gospel, as we remember Jesus’ offering himself for our sin. Pride is promoted when we allow self-righteousness to grow in our hearts.

  • Recognise when fear comes knocking – Saul allowed fear to control his relationship with people and with God. When fear comes knocking, then is the time to turn in prayer and faith to God, and, refrain from taking any action without faith.

  • Don’t build a monument to yourself – Saul sought to glorify himself. If we seek to project an image of ourselves we will become more and more devoted to our own image. Let’s refuse to seek glory for ourselves. This is particularly prevalent on social media. Do not post anything that is for your glory rather than the glory of God and the good of others.


THURSDAY – HOW LONG WILL YOU MOURN FOR SAUL?


'The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (1 Samuel 16:1 )

Samuel was grieved that Saul had been rejected by God as king. Today I want us to look at Saul not as an historical character but in ‘typological’ terms.


Note on ‘typology’

The Old Testament is full of ‘types’ of Christ - people and events that point to Jesus; it is also full of types of evil or antitypes - people and events that are teach about Satan, and sinfulness. For example - David is a type of Christ in his heart for God, as a righteous king, in his defeat of Goliath who is a type of Satan and sin. Saul is a type that teaches of sins effect on anyone if not checked. A couple of other examples: Jonah is a type which shows what happens if we rebel against God; but he is also a type of Christ as his time in the belly of the fish and subsequent release speak of Jesus death and resurrection.


Saul represents our old life before Jesus

Saul represents our old life before Jesus became our king. As Christians we can be tempted to look back wistfully to our old lives; our desire to sin is inflamed as we believe the lie that we are missing out by living for Jesus. Let’s face it, for temptation to be tempting it must offer some kind of promise that attracts us! Saul is attractive – life in which we throw off Jesus’ Lordship can be attractive. We all need to hear God’s admonition, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?”

The Israelites, after leaving Egypt having this kind of sinful attitude. Stephen, in his final speech said,

“This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’ He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us. “But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.  They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’  That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and revelled in what their own hands had made…” (Acts 7:37-41)

They ‘rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt’. They made a god in the form that was inspired out of their past in Egypt. They hankered for their past. They had forgotten the misery of slavery. The devil ingeniously relabels his poison! He causes us to grieve for our ‘lost life’ which, in reality, was a life ‘without God and without hope in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12). Are you grieving for Saul - grieving for life without Jesus as King? Okay, you may not be grieving for the past, but how are you doing at celebrating Jesus as King?


RESPONSE

There are a number of ways that we must stop grieving for Saul:

  • Stop grieving for Saul - Stop remembering your sin, stop going over the corpse of your stinking past. If you have put your faith in Jesus, Saul is dead and buried, you are a new creation! There is no condemnation for you!

  • Stop grieving for Saul – Samuel was grieved that things had not worked out for Saul as king. Are you holding on to regrets - things you wish that God had done differently in your life? Start thanking God for His good plans in your life.

  • Stop grieving for Saul – Are you caught up with sinful thinking and habits? Sinning is rebellion and is believing that joy is found outside of obedience. Do you need to believe the truth that living under king Jesus brings greater joy than living under Saul - the life of sin?

  • Start Celebrating Jesus - God doesn’t want us merely to stop desiring the past, He wants us to enjoy and celebrate our new life with Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Take a moment to express to God what you are thankful for because of Jesus.


FRIDAY – HOW TO ESTABLISH JESUS INSTEAD OF SAUL


'The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (1 Samuel 16:1 )

Saul is the sort of person that we all want to be like: Impressive, honoured, chosen for a great work, popular… Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these things, the problem comes when we, like Saul, seek worldly glory rather than seeking to serve God come what may.

We always have two alternatives - will Saul or David be our king? To put it another way, will we serve ourselves or serve Jesus?


The flesh and the Spirit conflict

Saul = The flesh

Saul represents what the bible often calls ‘the flesh’. This is Serving selfish ambitions, self-glory, our own way…these things are ‘of the flesh’ - the flesh is whatever is opposite to ‘keeping in step with the Holy Spirit’.

David = Jesus and the Spirit

King David represents Jesus and the Spirit.


Here are a few verses from Galatians 5 that show the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.

‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.’ (5:13)

Notice that this warning is addressed to Christians. It is not automatic that Christians will avoid the ‘flesh’ - we can become ‘Saulish’.

‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other…’ (5:16-17)

The ‘flesh’ is not the physical body, it is ‘desires that are contrary to the Spirit’. Paul goes on to give concrete examples:

‘The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions…’ (5:19-20)

These acts of the flesh will become more and more prevalent in the life of Saul as we go through his story. Likewise, these things can grow to dominate our lives if we don’t heed God’s warnings.

Paul writes about the impact that the Holy Spirit has on our lives,

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ (5:22-25)

Paul reveals that a true Christian, whilst he does make mistakes, he or she has ‘crucified the flesh…’ We have died and have risen to new life in Christ. Nevertheless, Paul still urges us to ‘keep in step with the Spirit.’


RESPONSE

Are we allowing Saul (the flesh) to reign in any part of our lives? How can we establish David (Jesus) as your King over and against Saul (the flesh)?

  • Firstly, we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In the account of 1 Samuel God tells Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (16:1). Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. As one is filled with the Holy Spirit, He establishes our loyalty and love for Jesus. As we have seen in Galatians 5 it clear that we need the Holy Spirit’s presence if we are live the Jesus-centred life that we want. So ask to be filled with the Spirit (See1 Corinthians 22:3).

  • Secondly, Christians have to choose to ‘keep in the step with the Spirit (choose David/Jesus as their King) or walk in the flesh (choose Saul/flesh/Satan) as their ruler. Perhaps a good end to this week’s devotionals would be to meditate and pray out of the fruits of the flesh and Spirit from Galatians 5:19-26.

2. Community Group/Family Study

WHO GETS THE GLORY?


Saul, the first king of Israel, started out well but soon the cracks began to appear. He started off amazed that God would have chosen him as king, but, in the end, he becomes prideful and is more concerned for his own glory that that of God.

Nev Floyd, who spoke on Sunday, told a story of someone making an amazing cake for someone's birthday. This, initially, looks like a kind gesture, however, it soon becomes apparent that they had made the cake for their own praise. Soon the cake-maker, rather than the birthday-boy, becomes the centre of attention!

Discuss together

1. We can all fall like Saul

  • Is there anything from the devotionals this week that has been of encouragement to you?

  • Saul had so much going for him: He was a born of a respected family (9:1). He was handsome (9:2). He was a young man (9:2). He was physically impressive being ‘taller than anyone’. (9:2)... We can all fall into three traps that seem different but both have the same root: we can envy others because of perceived talents and advantages; secondly, we can take pride in our background, abilities and physical attributes; thirdly, we can despise ourselves because of our perceived lack of potential - low self-worth. These all have the same root – they all elevate man over God; each mindset believes that God can only do according to our background, natural abilities, how people treat us etc. However, what do the stories of Saul and David (with Jesus being primary example) teach us about how, with a genuine heart for God, we can all be be truly successful?

  • Read 1 Sam. 13:6-12. Why do you think Saul took this rebellious action?

  • What do 1 Samuel 15:12 & 24 reveal about Saul's motivation?

  • What does Proverbs 16:18 promise? Why is this the case?

  • Nev asked us "who gets the glory?" How would you answer that question and how would you know?

2. How do we avoid becoming like Saul?

  • Read Ps. 118:8-9. Why does having a big view of God keep us from becoming like Saul?

  • Why will we be kept from pride and self-glorying if we constantly remember the gospel?

  • Read Gal. 5:19-26. Being filled, and seeking to follow the Spirit, will empower us to be more like David/Jesus and less like Saul/the flesh. Perhaps it might be good to get into smaller, single-sex groups to talk and pray about anything that has come out of this study.

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