Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Devotion for today: did you hear what I said?

As a reminder, this is a repost of an earlier blog. I am on vacation this week and am reposting blogs readers told me they particularly enjoyed.

Today we will look at two Old Testament kings who react very differently to the words of chastisement from men of God.

Scriptures for today: 1 Samuel 22, 30-31
But Samuel replied: “Is the pleasure of Yahweh in holocausts and sacrifices or in obedience to the voice of Yahweh? Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice, submissiveness better than the fat of rams. Rebellion is a sin of sorcery, presumption a crime of teraphim (household idols). Since you have rejected the word of Yahweh, he has rejected you as king.” “I have sinned,” Saul said, “but please still show me respect in front of the elders of my people and in front of Israel, and come back with me, so that I can worship Yahweh your God.”

2 Samuel 12:1-7, 13
Yahweh sent Nathan the prophet to David. He came to him and said: “In the same town were two men one rich the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great abundance; the poor man had nothing but a ewe lamb, one only, a small one he had bought. This he fed, and it grew up with him and his children, eating his bread, drinking from his cup, sleeping on his breast; it was like a daughter to him. When there came a traveler to stay, the rich man refused to take one of his own flock or herd to provide for the wayfarer who; had come to him. Instead he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.” David’s anger flared up against the man. “As Yahweh lives,” he said to Nathan, ‘the man who did this deserves to die! He must make fourfold restitution for the lamb, for doing such a thing and showing no compassion.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man….” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against Yahweh.”

Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh: Saul’s disobedience is not taken seriously enough by Saul. Saul is slow to accept responsibility for his sin, as exposed by Samuel. Even when Saul confesses his sin, he lays some of the blame off on the people and then tries – too quickly for my liking – to “move on” to the blessings of God, hoping to sidestep divine discipline. This is especially apparent in verses 24-33. In a sense, Saul is saying something like: “O.K., O.K., so I messed up. I admit it. Now, can we get on with my life. I want you to stay with me and worship with me, so that my image is not tarnished before the people.” In effect… Saul is more concerned with the people’s opinion of him than of God’s estimation of him. Saul wants to put his sin behind him without hating it, without putting it away from him (
Fr. Stephen Yim, of the Archdiocese of Singapore tells us:
Just to think that one day we will have to stand before the Lord and receive a judgment that will seal our eternity can be rather frightening. So we might think that it is God who will judge us and determine how guilty we are and then send us according to where we should go. Yet, if God is love, then why would He want to judge us and even condemn us? It was not God who pronounced judgment on David but rather it was David who pronounced judgment on himself. Nathan, the prophet, narrated the story, but it was David who made the conclusion. It was Nathan who just held the mirror, and David saw the reflection.
Yet, we must also acknowledge that David had the humility to admit that it was his own reflection, that he was that man in the story. We all have that God-given conscience to admit to our faults and sinfulness. Yet, with the same breath, we also must admit that we have this ability to deny guilt and responsibility. (

My thoughts: To end our week’s study of the various ways God speaks to His people, we see before us two men of God who were sent to kings to deliver the same message: God is very, very angry with you, for you have sinned. King Saul had deliberately disobeyed the command God gave him in destroying a nation, and Samuel was sent to call him on it. David had Uriah the Hittite killed in battle so he could marry Bathsheba, and Nathan the prophet was sent to admonish him. Our study shows us two ways we can react to God’s chastisement of us. Saul says he is sorry, but he is not. He is worried about his image, and tries to engage Samuel in damage control. David, on the other hand, is truly sorry and admits his guilt. He goes on to write beautiful Psalms on the sin he has committed, begging for forgiveness. When God sends someone to correct us, and we trust this person to have our souls in their interest, how do we react? Does our pride get in the way of true remorse? Or are we thankful that God has sent someone to hold “the mirror” so we can see our own reflection? God will use many ways to speak to us, yet it is up to us to listen. By throwing away our pride, by giving up our desire for recognition and admiration, and by admitting that we have sinned against God, we will be like David, from whose line Jesus descended. Saul, on the other hand…well, just read the rest of his story.

Our prayer to God: Psalm 38:17-18, 21-22
"And now my fall is upon me, there is no relief from my pain; yes, I admit my guilt, I am sorry for having sinned. Yahweh, do not desert me, do not stand aside, my God! Come quickly to my help, Lord, my savior!"

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