Gracefully Truthful


Read His Words Before Ours!

I Samuel 15
Psalm 46:10-11
Psalm 135
Romans 7:14-25

Samuel replied to Saul, ‘I will not return with you. Because you rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’ When Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the corner of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. Furthermore, the Eternal One of Israel does not lie or change His mind, for He is not man who changes His mind.’”
(I Samuel 15:26-29)

“Lord, Your name endures forever,
Your reputation, Lord,|
through all generations. […]
House of Israel, bless the Lord!
House of Aaron, bless the Lord!
House of Levi, bless the Lord!
You who revere the Lord, bless the Lord!
Blessed be the Lord from Zion;
He dwells in Jerusalem.
(Psalm 135:13, 19-21)

“The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people Israel.
Now, listen to the words of the Lord.”
(1 Samuel 15:1, emphasis mine)

Even as I, Samuel, prophet and priest of the Lord Most High, rehearsed Yahweh’s words in my head, I knew in my heart Saul wasn’t going to listen.

There was no indication Saul had shifted toward whole-hearted righteousness.

Still, I approached Israel’s king, giving him the Lord’s command and explaining how he was to attack the Amalekites, completely destroying them for their oppression of Israel. (1 Samuel 15:1-3)

My insides ached at the just, divine repercussions to come if Saul chose again to directly disobey the Lord.

Of course, Saul didn’t see it as direct disobedience. For years, his deluded justification of his choices meant every small step away from the Lord’s ways seemed, to Saul, as if he were helping the Sovereign God . . . as if Saul saw himself as just a bit better than Yahweh.

Undoubtedly, these words would never cross his lips, but his actions proclaimed the true beliefs of his heart. Sinister deceptions had long plagued Saul, convincing him he had the authority to side-step Yahweh, just a little here and there. 

“It’s as if an enemy taunts him,” I muttered aloud in my tent, waiting for news from the battlefront. “A mastermind has been leading him along, preying upon his insecurities and creating the illusion that if he simply grasps at more control, he’ll gain it.”

My fingers gripped my staff as I forced my tired legs to propel me outside my fluttering walls. I needed to stretch my restless limbs beneath the night sky, and maybe hear from the Lord.

I thought back to the day Saul first became king. No, I shook my head as a knot formed in my throat, the idolatry started before then…with God’s chosen people.

They rejected their Sovereign, insisting on a human king “like all the other nations.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20) My fists clenched, and I increased my pace while crickets hummed. I wondered how history might be different if Israel had been satisfied with the Infinite Creator as their King.

I couldn’t stop the tears in remembering their rejection. My people, oh my people! The Lord’s words echoed in my ears,
They have not rejected you, [Samuel,]
they have rejected me as their king
They are doing the same thing to you
that they have done to me […]
abandoning me to worship other gods
(1 Samuel 8:7-8)

If my heart felt like bursting with grief, anguish, and righteous anger, I couldn’t imagine the heartbreak of Yahweh. He had birthed His people from an aged man and his barren wife, led Israel from slavery, held their toddler-like hands through the wilderness despite their rebellion, gifted them the Promised Land, and caused them to flourish in the face of countless enemies. Yahweh was the perfect King, a Shepherd King, but He was rejected for a king with a face they could see.

Fleetingly, I thought, “Would that You, Yahweh, wore skin, and we could crown Your head! How we would love You and follow You and obey every Word You spoke! If only Israel could see You, then they would never worship another idol, never again bending the knee to Insecurity and the illusion of power at the hand of Control.”

I felt I should repent at such a scandalous thought. How dare I imagine the Almighty humbling Himself to become incarnate!

Suddenly, the crickets fell silent and the air buzzed. I fell prostrate; I knew the Lord was coming; I barely breathed. Would He bring news of the battle?

“I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away
from following me and has not carried out my instructions.”
(1 Samuel 15:10-11)

All the air left my lungs; in an instant it rushed back and I railed and yelled, pleading for mercy!

“NO! Lord God, NO!”

I knew those words well, “I regret that I made […]”. The Lord had uttered them before pronouncing judgment on wicked humanity in the days of Noah. (Genesis 6:5-8)
Saul’s days were short, perhaps even Israel’s.

Despite my pleading, I knew I, too, needed to surrender to His sovereign rule or allow space in my own heart for idol worship. The Lord had spoken: the kingdom would be torn away from Saul, for the Lord is a jealous God. He knows any idol that steals our love from Him must be torn out or it will strangle us to death.

Saul’s list of “small sins” and “minor compromises” as he twisted God’s Words to fit his own agenda all added up to an idol made by self-righteous hands. Its sum total was demonic evil as it spit in the face of everything good, kind, and generous in the heart of Sovereign Yahweh.

Saul’s idol mirrored my own as I looked at how violently I too had insisted on my way, my sense of justice. This deadly disease grew in me just as it did Saul.
If only there were a sacrifice to slay sin in me! (Romans 7:24-25)

As the Lord’s faithfulness danced in the glory of morning’s sun rays, I turned my face to the eastern sky and waited for the Lord. No idol was worth departing from His lavish goodness. “Lord, make me new again,” I whispered. As I breathed out praise, I knew He was tearing down my idols and restoring my soul, for “small sins” don’t exist in the eyes of the All-Seeing Almighty.

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