Monday, February 24, 2014

Hear the Word of the Lord!

Although Saul was not the first choice of God to rule in Israel, he was the rightful king. God allowed the people to select Saul instead of waiting for David. This premature selection by Israel was a grievous error. But God is very gracious. He did not condemn Saul to the fates. Saul could have followed hard after God and led the nation righteously. But that is not what he does.
          He repeatedly chooses to be disobedient. His disobedience leads to a judicial blindness. With the justification of protecting his own kingdom, he turns against those most loyal to him. He attacks God’s anointed and in doing so, spirals out of control. He is the king of Israel, whose God is Yahweh, but Saul becomes the enemy of God.
         When we see Saul’s latter end, we are astonished at how someone who started out so promising has devolved into such a beast. But this should not surprise us. Sin does that. Little by little, it entangles and enslaves until you become the very opposite of what you had hoped to be, or even what you think you are.
         This is the senselessness of sin. This is the power of self-deception. This is the telos of disobedience, that those who were once friends of God, set themselves up as enemies.
We should pay attention to Saul’s demise. He was not God’s first choice but God gave him every opportunity to do that which is right. Through jealousy, envy, and then paranoia, Saul drove himself crazy. We do not know that he was literally insane. It seems as if he is still able to carefully plot his plans. If he were fully insane, someone would have relieved him of his duties. It is not so much that Saul is crazy but that he is crazy with envy, with power, with fear.
He did not get to this point overnight. He fed his own fears and he refused to heed the wise in his midst. David was loyal and wise and Saul would not hear him. Samuel was loyal and wise and Saul would not hear him. Jonathan was loyal and wise and Saul would not hear him. Ahimelech was loyal and wise and Saul would not hear him.
At each point, Saul systematically refuses to hear and heed the Word of God. The result is that he becomes an enemy of God, striking out against God’s people, God’s priests. He is literally striking out against God, Himself.
Saul, the anointed of the Lord. Saul, the one the people asked for, has now become Saul the enemy of God.
The lesson is all too clear. Hear the Word of the Lord. Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For today is the day of salvation. Today, God is speaking to you. If you refuse to hear His voice, one day His voice of friendship will end and you will be God’s enemy. So, do not refuse to hear Him. Be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ the Messiah.
How do we keep ourselves from becoming like Saul, a man who would not and then could not hear God?
         The key is to hear. Listen. Get the spiritual wax out of your ears.
Young men, can you hear me speaking now? Can you hear the Spirit of God when you are being lazy? Or grumpy? Or Lustful?
Young ladies, are you paying attention to God before you get distracted by stuff? By looking good? By attracting men? By being popular? Can you hear God speak through all that chatter?
Ladies, can you hear the voice that says not to complain about your husband? Not to worry about what people think? Can you hear the voice that tells you that your work as a wife and a mother is honorable in the Lord’s eyes? Are you pleased with pleasing the Lord?
Men, do you know the sound of God speaking? Do you hear the voice of reproof from a friend? From a Son? From your daughter? From your wife? Men, do you know the grace of the voice that says, “Thou shalt not!”
All of you must hear while you still have ears. Hear while the preacher is preaching. Hear while your teachers are teaching. Hear while your parents are speaking. Hear while you can still hear because if you stop your ears the voice will go silent.
Therefore, hear the voice of God and so prove to be His disciples. Grow in the strength of God because your hearing is trained to hear Him whenever and from whomever He speaks. Hear the Word of the Lord! Amen.

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