David: A Man After God’s Own Heart, Part 1 | Sermon

David: A Man After God’s Own Heart, Part 1

The king & the Kings: A Study in 1 Samuel
By Carlos Jerez

Bible Text: 1 Samuel 16
Preached on: Sunday, March 19, 2017

First Family Church
317 SE Magazine Road
Ankeny, IA 50021

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So we are back in 1 Samuel. Open your Bibles to chapter 16 and as you’re turning there, I want to share with you a little story. So it was 1998 when I asked my wife to marry me and so we’re coming up, I think on what is it, 19 years here in June? And I remember as we were preparing to get married and one of the things we were looking at, like where are we going to get an apartment or a place to stay and that type of thing and gathering furniture, asking relatives, friends and anybody who we knew if they wanted to donate to the cause. One of the things we wanted to be able to buy brand new if we could was a mattress so I went and, you know, back then it was before Craig’s list or things like that. You would, I don’t know if they had it here in Iowa but they used to have this publication called “The Pennysaver.” Have you ever heard of that? So I found a place where they sell mattresses in the Pennysaver and so Sheryl and I drove out there and we buy a queen size mattress and I borrowed, I don’t remember whose truck it was but I borrowed somebody’s truck and we lived north of LA so we had to drive into LA to get it, and if you’ve been to Los Angeles, the 101 freeway is one of the busiest freeways. So we get the mattress, I load it on, bungee cord it, get in the truck, Sheryl’s sitting shotgun and we take off and we’re on the 101 freeway, a very busy freeway and we start going up this grade and the next thing I know, this mattress is making noise and Sheryl is looking at me like, “Ah, should we stop?” And I’m thinking, “No, no, we’re fine.” And then one time it almost came off so I said, “Yeah, we should stop.” So I pull over on the 101 freeway and I basically had to tighten it a lot more and I used bungee cords but I had left some room for them to stretch and so I had to get it down real tight. So the second time did it and we made it home and didn’t lose the brand new mattress we just purchased on the 101 freeway.

Well, we’ve already seen one attempt at a king in Israel, it was King Saul, and I think you would agree with me that his kingship so far has been nothing short of a disaster. I mean, he has done some good things no doubt, God has used him to deliver his people no doubt, but as far as who he was as a man, how he led the people and gave into their wishes and all of what we’ve been learning so far about Saul, he was a disaster. However today we’re going to see the second king, the second attempt, if I can put it that way, will be a good king. It will be the right choice and it will be because God has chosen this king.

If you remember, the children of Israel asked for a king like the nations. The Lord said, “Okay, you want one like the nations have? I’ll give you one.” That was Saul. Now God is going to say, “Now here’s the king that you need and the one that I desire, the one that I choose, and it’s David.” We’re very familiar with David and we’re going to do part 1 of 2 messages and this morning we’ll be looking at “David: A king after God’s own heart,” part 1 in 1 Samuel 16. There we go. David, a king after God’s own heart, part 1 in chapter 16.

So read with me. And again, if you have questions, you can text those in. I’ll do my best to address them at the end. So this is what it says, what Samuel writes. He says, verse 1,

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I designate to you.” Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come in peace?” And he said, “In peace I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they entered, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he [that’s Jesse] said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is tending the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily  upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose up and went to Ramah.

Spirit, be our guide, be our teacher this morning. We want to learn what this passage is teaching us and we want to take the truth and apply it to our lives and we need you to do that. We pray this in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.

So here we see is our introduction to David and this is where we see that David is anointed by the Lord. He is chosen by the Lord to be the next king. And as we begin in the beginning of the chapter, the first thing it tells us is that Samuel, the prophet, is still grieving over Saul. Apparently Samuel liked Saul. I think he did. I think he was very upset that Saul’s kingdom and his reign was a disaster. I think Samuel kind of took that personally. He was involved with that. Even though Samuel had called out Saul for his sins, I think he really liked Saul.

But the Lord says, “How long will you grieve over him?” Now notice how the Lord responds from being king, he goes, “Fill your horn and go to Bethlehem and I’m going to show you whom you are to anoint,” but I love how the Lord just, he takes ownership of what’s going on here. He says, what does he say? He says, “For I have selected a king for myself.” It’s very clear from verse 1 that the Lord said, “This is my choice. I gave the people their choice and we saw what happened, now it’s time for my choice and I’m going to send you and show you who he will be.”

So we get this little conversation between Samuel and the Lord and Samuel is like, “Well, ah, if I do that, Saul’s going to hear of it and I’m done.” I think there’s a little bit of fear in Samuel there. He knows Saul. He knows Saul has already been told, “Your son is not going to be king,” and he already knows because he’s the one who told him, “That God has rejected you and he’s going to give it to your neighbor.” Samuel goes, “There’s a problem here, Lord, you know, Saul’s going to hear of it. What do I do?” The Lord says, “Well, go and as you go, take a sacrifice with you and you don’t need to tell him everything, just tell him you’re going to sacrifice.” So Samuel obeys.

It’s interesting how when he comes to Bethlehem, though, the elders come out and you can almost see these guys timidly coming and approaching the prophet like, “Do you come in peace?” Why would they do that? Think about what happened at the end of chapter 15. What did the old man, Samuel, do that Saul should have done? He hewed Agag into pieces, right? As we see, he went Old Testament on them, right? Now, that was in judgment and we talked about why he had to do that and why that was necessary but the people understood Samuel spoke for the Lord and at times, if necessary if the king wouldn’t do it, Samuel would carry out the judgment of the Lord if he had to. So I think that’s kind of what’s behind what’s going on here.

But he assures them, “I come in peace.” And he goes and as the Lord directed him, has Jesse come to the sacrifice and he begins to see his sons. It’s interesting how Samuel, the prophet, is impressed by Eliab, the oldest, because he looks the part just like Saul did. So Samuel is thinking like, “Hey, he looks the part and this is the Lord’s choice,” or presuming it’s the Lord’s choice because he looks the part, and the Lord tells him very clearly, “No, no, you don’t understand. This king that I have chosen is not going to be like Saul because it doesn’t matter how they appear, what matters is what’s in the heart.

Look what it says, verse 7, and I think this is the key verse to the whole chapter. “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.” Why? “For God sees not as man sees: for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the inside at the heart.” Now, the Lord is saying, in essence: Saul didn’t have the right heart. He had the right appearance. He looked the part but he didn’t have what counted most, the right heart.

If you remember, if you turn back a couple of pages in chapter 13, the Lord said this in chapter 13, verse 14, he says this and this is when the kingdom is taken away from Saul’s sons, he says, “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” It kind of gives us some insight. This is the kind of man, this is the kind of king God desires, one who is a man after his own heart and the implication is when you read chapter 13, verse 14, is that one who will obey me, what I command him, from the inside. In other words, he won’t obey me because he has to, he’ll obey me because he wants to, because he is a man after my own heart. And I find it interesting the Lord says, “This is the one that I have sought and I’m able to see what you can’t see because in order to be a good king, he must have a heart after me.”

So then we read, David the eighth. Right, there are seven sons that pass before him, the eighth and youngest son comes before and the Lord says, “That’s him. That is the king whom I have chosen for myself to be ruler.” And Samuel in the presence of his brothers and his father, anoints David, and it says, “The Spirit of the Lord rushes mightily upon David and his was like that from that day forward.” Now, we know what that anointing means, right? That is, the confirmation of God’s choice and it’s the anointing of the Spirit that will enable him to rule God’s people, right?

Now, it’s interesting how we don’t get a lot of detail on what that looked like. I mean, we got a lot of detail on what that looked like for Saul, right? You know, he prophesied among the prophets and all the signs and almost kind of real extravagant. We’re not given a lot of detail on what it looked like for Saul. I mean, that’s one of those places where you think, “I wonder what happened there?” It doesn’t really say. We tend to think it always means something extraordinary and it may have been, but it doesn’t record that for us. I mean, it can be that like it was with Saul, not necessarily here, but for David it appears it wasn’t, if I could put it this way, as showy. It was different. It doesn’t tell us. In fact, we’re going to see what was the evidence that the Spirit of the Lord had come upon Saul and we know that story, but if we continue on in the passage, we’ll see the evidence how the Spirit came upon David.

Look at verse 14. It says,

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil  spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul’s servants said to him, ‘Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you, let them seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp, and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand and you will be well. So Saul said to his servants, ‘Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.’ Then one of the young men said, ‘Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse, a Bethlehemite, who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man, and the LORD is with him.’ So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, ‘Send me your son David who is with the flocks.’ So Jesse took a donkey, loaded it with bread and a jug of wine and a young goat and sent them to Saul by David, his son. Then David came to Saul and attended him and Saul loved him greatly because and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse saying, ‘Let David now stand before me for he has found favor in my sight.’ So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand and Saul would be refreshed and be well and the evil spirit would depart from him.

Interesting. The first thing we learn is that the Spirit of the Lord that had been given to Saul is taken away. Now, that’s not a reference to the fact that he lost his salvation, right? He lost the anointing, the special anointing that God gave kings to rule. That was removed from him. Why? Because he had been rejected as king but he’s not losing his salvation here. You and I in the New Testament, we have the Spirit that lives in us. It was not true in the Old Testament except for special circumstances like when you would lead or deliver God’s people. Now, if you weren’t here, we went into detail on that when we studied chapters 9 and 10. That was on, I think it was February 19th or something like that. You can go back and listen to that.

But that’s what’s being removed from the kingly anointing, but notice it says when the Spirit of the Lord is taken from Saul, an evil spirit was sent by the Lord to terrorize Saul. What does that mean? Can we know what that means? We can know what it did but what does it mean? Here’s what it means. I’m going to tell you what it means and why I think this, and then I’ll defend it from the Scriptures, okay? This is what I think is going on. I think it means that the Lord released an evil spirit upon Saul to terrorize him. Now think about this: the Lord keeps Satan and his evil demons or angels, fallen angels, he keeps them at bay. He protects us from them. Scripture, and I’ll show you here in a minute, speak of it as a hedge of protection, right? He protects us from them. They, Satan and his followers, at all times desire to harm and even terrorize us. Why? Because we’re God’s people and they hate and reject God and everything that he has created and everyone whom he has chosen to be his people. God doesn’t need to motivate them to do that. They already want to do that, okay?

Think of it this way: have you ever heard the phrase “chomping at the bit”? Have you heard that? It’s actually “champing at the bit.” I learned something this week. It’s not chomping, it’s actually champing at the bit. Here’s what it means and those of you who have been around horses, you’ll understand this. A bit, the bit that goes in the horse’s mouth is, and I’m quoting here, is the part of the apparatus that goes into a horse’s mouth and connects to the bridle and reins so that the horse can be controlled or directed by the jockey or the rider that is on its back, right? The bit fits into the toothless ridge of the horse’s mouth so the horse never really bites down on the bit, but it can at times grind his teeth or his jaw on the bit. And if the horse does that, it’s either because they’re nervous or they’re excited or ready to race. They are champing at the bit, they want to get in the race, they want to run, they want to be released and that’s where we get the phrase “champing at the bit.” And it means and you know this, it communicates extreme eagerness, right? So keep that in mind.

Evil spirits, Satan and his demons, are always champing at the bit to attack us, to harm us, to terrorize us, to make us miserable. Why? Because they hate us. Because they hate God. They’re always champing at the bit. However, what makes the horse run when the gate is opened? Is it the gate? No, they want to run and then now they get to run. They’re released. In the same way, I believe God always has that hedge of protection. They always want to come at us but what did he do here? He opened the gate and he let them. He let them come after Saul. Why did they do it? Because they want to. It’s their desire. It’s their instinct, if I can put it that way. They want to attack us. It’s what they want to do. God just removed the protection, is what he did here with Saul. God is not forcing them but he is allowing them and at all times he is limiting what they can do, what they already want to do.

Now, you’re like, “Carlos, that’s a great explanation. Where do you get that? Did you suck that one out of your thumb?” I did not. If you want to turn with me in your Bible, look at Job 1. This is the story when Satan goes to present himself in the Lord’s presence and look what it says, verse 9, then Satan after the Lord says, “Hey, have you considered my servant Job and how he’s faithful to me and how he’s a godly man?” Verse 9 says, “Then Satan answered the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?'” Listen to this, “You have made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has on every side. You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land.” In other words, “You have prevented, you have hedged him, you protect him. That’s why he loves you but put forth your hand now and touch all that he has and he will certainly curse you to your face.” And then look at how the Lord responds, “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power.'” In other words, Satan’s like, “He won’t do that if you remove the hedge.” The Lord says, “Okay, I’ll remove it. I’ll let you go and do what you want to do to him.” But even the Lord limits that. He says, “Only do not put forth your hand on him.” He wasn’t allowed to touch him physically. Later on he is, but he’s not allowed to kill him. So I think that gives us a lot of insight on what this means and how God does this. I think that he does this to Saul, he opens the gate and lets the evil spirit do what it already wants to do.

Now, what we learn, we’ll talk a little bit more about it, David is able to drive this spirit away because the Lord was with him. Right? The text very clearly says people knew about it, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. He was known. People knew that. “Hey, Yahweh, the God of Israel, is with this man and he is able to drive the spirit away.”

Now, it would seem that when David played the harp, this is what it tells us, that the spirit would be driven away. Now, it doesn’t tell us that he spoke anything but it does say this in the text, look what it says: he was known to be a man who was prudent in his speech. We also have from David a lot of what he did say which are recorded for us in the Psalms which were spoken as an instrument was played. So I think it’s very realistic to think that David was not only playing the harp, he was probably speaking what would later become Psalms, the truth about what he knew about the Lord and the evil spirit was driven away by that.

Now, the question then becomes: why did God send an evil spirit? Why didn’t he just take his Spirit, why does he send the evil spirit upon Saul? Why did he do that to terrorize Saul? And we might think it’s to punish Saul because maybe that’s what we would do. He was unfaithful, he disobeyed, I’m going to punish him. However, I don’t think he meant to punish Saul. If it was punishment, why does he give him relief through David? Why wouldn’t he just say, “Do you know what? Here is the evil spirit and you’re going to bear the consequences of your choices and you’re going to be terrorized.” If it was punishment, but he gives him relief through David.

Now, I can think of at least two reasons, there might be more, at least two reasons why the Lord did this and it’s not to punish. The first one is this: he did it to demonstrate that the Lord was with David, not Saul anymore. He did it to demonstrate to Saul, “Saul, this is the man I have chosen.” He did it in front of the people so that the people would know, “This is the man that I have chosen. I am with him.” But I also think, I really do believe this and I think the story will play this out in what the other Scriptures say, I think he did it to teach Saul how much Saul needed the Lord. I think actually this is an act of kindness and love. I believe the Lord loved Saul. I really do because what do the Scriptures teach us? The Lord chastens, disciplines, those whom he loves as a father loves a son. Now think about it: Saul is the king, he doesn’t have to listen to any other human being because he’s the king so God uses an extreme way to get his attention. In other words, I believe the evil spirit was meant to drive Saul back to the Lord which Saul wasn’t in the habit of doing. Saul was in the habit of doing it himself. “Samuel didn’t come, I will sacrifice. The Lord told me to do this, but I’m going to do this.” And I honestly believe that the Lord is using this to bring Saul to his knees, to bring him back, to teach him, and I think the lesson had to be extreme. So all that to say: that’s what I think is going on. I know some will disagree with me but I really do believe that’s what’s going on and I think you can see it in this passage and as the story unfolds, we’ll see more of that.

So all this to say, okay, so David is God’s choice. We learn why David is God’s choice. I told you that the key verse in this passage is how the Lord describes how he doesn’t see what man sees but he looks at the heart. This really is the heart, if I could put it that way, of the passage. The main lesson, the main issue is that God works in, looks at the heart. David is chosen to be king because he has a heart for God and what this insight teaches us is that God wants us to obey him from the heart. He desires us as his people as he desired his king, as he has always desired for us to obey him because we want to, not because we have to, because we love him.

Now, we’re going to see that this is the type of man David was. By the way, he wasn’t a perfect man. We’re going to see that too. But he was a man who loved the Lord, who had a heart for him, and we’ll see that demonstrated. Now, as we look at the heart and what that means, I want to address some lessons that I believe on the heart that are in the passage and talk about those a little bit. Okay, that’s what God wants, that’s what he desires, that’s what he works, that’s where he transforms. What does that mean? How does that apply to us? How does that apply?

Well, the first lesson I think we can see and I’ll show you, so David is anointed king and then he is used. We saw him being used by the Lord there in the last part of the chapter. But the first lesson we learn is this: why we do something is more important than what we do. Why do we do it, the why. Not just the what but the why. Why we do anything is more important than what we do. This is at the very center of why David has been chosen as king. He wasn’t a man who obeyed God out of mere duty because he was forced, but because he loved and trusted God. That’s what the Lord is saying. We’re going to see it. We haven’t seen it yet but the Lord is already saying this is the kind of man he is, right? He told Saul, “I will find a man after my own heart because you did not do what I commanded you.”

Now, you could say, “Well, Saul kind of did.” Well, when you look at the story, Saul did it because he had to and he knew completely what demonstrates his heart wasn’t after God. He wasn’t a man who obeyed from the heart. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says this, Paul praises the church of Thessalonica, he says, “And constantly when I remember, when I bear in mind,” listen to this, “your work of faith.” So he’s not saying there’s no what, there has to be a what we do, but what drives the what we do, the why. Why? It was your trust, belief in God is what compelled you to work.  He goes on to say, “and your,” listen to this, “your labor,” the word literally means, “to the point of exhaustion of love,” produced by, compelled by love, loyalty, sacrifice. It’s not just the work, it’s not just the labor, it’s not just the obedience, it’s what’s compelling it, what’s motivating it.

Why? Why we do something is more important than what we do. It’s critical to keep in mind why we obey. Not just because we have to but because we want to. Now, why would we want to? We’ll talk about it here in a minute. But think about this: at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, you’ve heard these words before, Jesus says, chapter 7, verse 21 and following he says, “Many,” not a few, “Many will come to me on that day.” What day? The day of judgment when he comes to judge. “Many will come to me on that day and say, ‘Did we not prophesy in your name?'” Do all these things. They had a lot of what. Man, they had good works piled up. “Did we not do these for you?” What does Jesus say? “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, you workers of lawlessness. I do not know you.” And the word there is, “I have no relationship with you. I know who you are.” Of course God knew who they were. Of course he will know who they were.

Now, he says that to those who claimed to follow him. Guess who that is? The visible church. Christians or people who had called themselves Christians. Do you see why he gets to the why? “You didn’t obey me because you had a relationship with me, you didn’t obey me because you loved me, you didn’t obey me because you trust me, you obeyed me because you thought that you could earn favor with me by your obedience.” Do you see why it’s more important the why than just the what?

Think about this: doing more for God and for others doesn’t always mean you love God more. It doesn’t. You know, some of us are doers, right? Some of us are Marthas. We like to get our hands dirty and we want to roll our sleeves up and we want to get into the word. That’s just who we are and God has made us that way. It’s not a bad thing but I think when we think that way, we can be tempted to think, “Well, the more I do, the more it demonstrates the more I love God.” It can but not always.

Or think about this: the more you do for God does not mean that God loves you more, almost like this performance thing. “Man, God really loves me because, man, all the stuff I do for him and he’s happy with me when I do all this stuff for him. But when I’m kind of short on the stuff, he doesn’t love me as much so I’ve got to do more.” Let me tell you something: it’s why you do what you do, not just what you do. And by the way, God already loves you if you’re in Christ to the fullest and couldn’t love you anymore because he has loved you by giving you his Son. And that should be what compels us, that should be the why, because we love him.

Now, stop and think about this. I know I’m guilty of this one. Do you find yourself being too busy serving the Lord to take time to spend with the Lord? Think of it this way, think of a father or a husband who works 80+ hours a week, committed to his job. Why? Because he wants to be able, I mean he works night and day to provide things for his family, for his children, for his wife, take them on vacations and they can have great things. What kind of relationship does that man have with his family? None.

Now, it’s not wrong to have things, by the way, it is wrong for things to have you. Do we find ourselves too busy serving the Lord doing the right thing, but we don’t even take time to sit down and talk to the Lord, spend time with the Lord? Do you see how that’s a heart issue? And God sees that. God knows that, right? God knows. It says, “I see what’s in your heart.” Just be honest.

Here’s one of the things I think if the why is more important than the what, have you ever thought about this? That if you can’t say no, your yes doesn’t mean much. Are you the type of person who is always, you know, when someone asks you to do something and you’re, “Yeah, sure, sure, sure.” Learn to say no. Not because I don’t want to, I don’t have the time, you know what? I can’t be so busy that I ignore first my relationship with the Lord and with other people. That’s a heart issue.

Now, why we do what we do. What compels us to obey? If you find yourself where you are not compelled to obey because you love and trust God, I would submit to you and to myself that it’s because we don’t know God that much because the more you get to know him, the more you can’t but help serve and honor him because you want to. Why more important than the what. I’m not saying there is no what, but why? Why does David, why is he a man after God’s own heart? Because he obeyed not because he had to, he wanted to. We’re going to see that in his life.

The second one is this: obedience must be inwardly driven, not outwardly forced, and this gets more in the have to. 1 John, right? This is what it was like for Saul. He only did it because he had to. If you ask yourself, “Is obeying him, is it difficult, hard or a burden?” Then it’s just conformity. You’re just doing it because you have to do it, not because you want to do it. What motivates it from the inward? 1 John 5:3 says this, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments,” and what? You’ve heard it before. “And his commandments are not,” what? “Burdensome.” Why are they not burdensome? You look at some of these commandments and you’re like, “Man, that’s difficult. That’s hard. That’s a fight.” We talk about it that way, the temptations, the lusts, that they war against our soul. How is that not a burden? Are you fighting? We use that language.

So how is that not a burden? What is John saying? Is he saying it’s easy-go-lucky, it just kind of happens and you don’t really have to work hard because…? No. John’s not denying that. Think back to what Paul said, “It was a labor.” Yeah, to the point of exhaustion. You’re willing to do what God has commanded you to do but why? Because you love him. If you’ve ever nursed someone who is sick, weak, can’t do anything for themselves. Right, we do this for those who have had kids. You lose sleep. I remember those years. What did you do when the kids were young? I just didn’t sleep. You know, you’re like a walking zombie. Why do you do that? “Ah, I have to.” Maybe some of the time you had to but at the end of the day, why are you doing that? Why are you helping this helpless one? Why are you losing sleep? Why are you laboring? Why are you exhausted for this person? You say, “Well, it’s my mom or it’s my child, it’s my friend. I love them.” Do you see that?

Do you love? God knows and God sees. Obedience to God is the best way we demonstrate that we love him and it’s a love, now you might be thinking, it’s a love of the will. It’s a love of choice. It’s a love of sacrifice. I’m not talking about, “Well, I really feel like this. I don’t want to obey God. I feel that way. I can feel the pull. But I choose to obey because I’m committed to and loyal to the Lord.” That is a good love. Being obedient and loving God doesn’t always necessarily feel good but if you’ve chosen because you know, this is the Lord, this is who he is, what he did. Yeah, it’s hard but I’m committed to him. It must come from the inside. Not because other people see it, not because other people will notice it. That’s far from our minds when we obey from the inside. It can’t be forced.

Here’s the questions that I ask myself. Do I find myself asking what am I allowed to get away with? How far can I go without sinning? I want to get to the edge and, okay, I’m trying to push the boundaries. Or am I asking myself how can I love and honor God by my desire and my actions? That’s obedience from the heart, not forced.

3. Having a heart for God means caring more about what he says and knowing you need him. You’re going to see this played out in David’s life. David was a man prudent in speech, right? He will go on to write if he hadn’t written them already, many of the Psalms that are in our Scriptures and we get a glimpse, when you read the Psalms, you get a glimpse of a man who has a zeal for who God is and his truth. In what he says we gain an understanding from the Psalms as David pours out his heart, how he needs the Lord.

Now, think about it. David’s a very capable man. David is a very gifted man. We’re going to see this. David is able to do some great things but if you go and, if I can put it this way, read his heart in the Psalms, he knew he needed the Lord. He knew he was dependent, not independent. He knew he was a dependent man. He was a man under authority who needed his God.

Now, how do we get to that place? How do we care more about what God says or God thinks? Well, first you need to know what he cares about, right? We need to know that. We need to be reminded of it. That’s why the Bible uses this phrase, renewing of our mind. Why? To make our mind and thoughts like God’s. It’s done through the pages of the Bible. And it starts here in the head, okay, what do I know, what have I learned about God, but we think through it, we meditate on it, okay, how can I obey that principle. God calls me to be holy. That’s what he says. Why? Set apart because he is holy, he is righteous, he is good. Okay, what does that mean in my own life? Well, how does that translate in how I go to work or speak with my neighbor? Do you see? And this transformation takes place. That’s what that means. A heart that cares more about what he says, therefore, I want to think like he thinks, desire what he desires, and I need him to do that because I can’t do it on my own.

Now, here’s a question and it’s real easy for me to not do this because I do this every week, right? I spend hours to study this book, what does it say, what does it say? Looking up what does that word mean and how does it interact? I’m spending a lot of time handling the sacred truth of God. Here’s a question I need to ask myself: is that study, is that endeavor, is all that work, is it transforming me or is my head just getting fatter? Do you know what I mean? Am I just filling my skull full of knowledge and it’s not transforming me and it’s not changing me? Why would I even care if it changes me? Because that’s what God wants. That’s what I want.

Here’s another one: do we live like we need him or just when things are bad? Do we live that way? Not just for the stuff but I mean him personally? What is the good news of the Gospel? The good news at its very heart is you and I get God in relationship: forgiveness of sins, eternity in heaven, no more pain. All that is awesome but at the very heart of the good news is, guess what? You and I get God because of what Jesus did.

I mean, think of, I’ve been guilty in this and I’m sure you have, that person, that family member, whoever it is, you call them or ask them when you need them but when you don’t need them, you don’t call them or talk to them. Maybe that’s been done to you. How does that make you feel? I know how it makes me feel. “How come they never call me just to talk? Hey, can you do this? Hey, can I borrow that? Yeah, sure, sure, sure.” We’re giving, you know. Sometimes I think, “I wonder how the Lord feels about that.” I only come to him when I’m so desperate I have nowhere else to go. Not that I shouldn’t do that but that’s usually when I frequent the throne and pray. I am just helpless and weak and, “God, help me!” Is that the only time I go to him? “Lord, I don’t know how this is going to happen. I’ve got to pay this bill. I’ve got to….” Am I only going to him when I need something but I don’t go to him because I want to just be with him?

By the way, a heart for God means caring more about what he says and knowing you need him. By the way, for those of you who have marriage in your future, I’m talking to the young and maybe others who are looking to get married, this is the type of spouse you should be looking for. This is the type of spouse you should be in preparation of becoming as you submit to the truth and God is transforming you. It doesn’t matter how good looking they are, it doesn’t matter how much they make you laugh, it doesn’t matter as much as is their heart in God’s hand. I’ve spoken with a lot of people and they tell me how great So-and-so is and it’s because he or she and this and that, and I don’t hear, “So what about their relationship with the Lord?” Well, yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re a Christian. “Well, that’s great but do they follow Christ? Do they have a heart for Christ because guess what? You’re a sinner, they’re a sinner and if your heart isn’t in the hand of God, you’re heading for disaster.” So young people, think about that. When God brings you that person, ask yourself that question. “Can I tell, is there any evidence that their heart is in God’s hands because that’s the kind of person I want to marry?” Anyway, that’s for free. And do you know why I say that? Because someone told me that and that’s the mindset I used when the Lord brought me my wife. Yes, I am saying that my wife’s heart is in God’s hands.

Lastly, good intentions are not enough. So we’re not saying, I mean, you must have a relationship with the living God. We’re not saying that it just matters what’s on the inside so as long as your intentions are good enough, as long as your heart is in the right place. This is not what we’re saying because in order to be in the right place, you need to have a relationship with the living God, not just know about God, not just trying to prove yourself to God, but because you have a living relationship with the living God. And the only way to do that and you guys know this, is through the person of Jesus Christ. You have submitted to him.

The text tells us the Lord was with David and David was known for that, but the Lord was with him. It’s evident from the fact that he’s able to drive the evil spirit away. Evil spirits don’t like the Lord. They hate him and they flee from him. And when we talk about God, we’re not talking about our thoughts about God but how does God describe himself in the Bible. In other words, not a God made in our own image but a God that is reflected through the Scriptures.

Now, here’s how we know: do you find yourself, do I find myself when we hear what the Bible says and we say, “Well, my God wouldn’t do that or I don’t believe that. I can’t accept that,” even though it’s very clear from the Bible that’s what it says. Now, I’m not saying that we don’t struggle with what it says. I struggle with what it says sometimes but are we submissive to the God of the Bible and are willing to say, “You know, I don’t understand this. I struggle with it but I still trust you.” That’s the difference.

Think of it this way because you see this in Saul: do we speak of God as somebody distant who we have no relationship with? Saul would say this, “You sacrifice to the Lord, your God.” I’m trying to so I know it’s got to be there, I don’t know everything but he rarely if ever says, “my God.” Do we speak of God as someone distant or someone whom we have a relationship with? I mean, think about it, there is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing that person, right? There are a lot of people you know about, but you don’t necessarily know them relationally. Do we have a relationship with the living God? And it’s when we have that relationship, then you know this, that’s why obedience isn’t a burden, it’s actually a privilege. It’s actually a joy because we have been taught by the Bible, by the Spirit of God, that God who spoke everything into existence, God became a man so that you and I could know him. And the more we learn about this God, the more we are amazed that he would do such a thing. I mean, you know yourself, right? You know yourself better than anyone except God alone and if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t deserve that. We don’t deserve him. We still sin. We still disobey. We still walk away and he always accepts us back. That’s amazing.

We’re going to see more about this, like I said, this is part 1, but it’s the hear that God sees, the heart where God works. Truly, it’s what’s inside that matters most. The only way to have this type of a heart is if what the Bible says, if you are born again, if God has given you a new one, and he does that through Christ in fulfillment of his promise of the new covenant. Amen.

Questions? We’ve got four. Are they juicy?

Q. Why do you think God went to another, King David, when removing Saul, why not just go back to how it was before Saul?

A. Good question. Okay, think about this: what is the title of our series? “The Kings and the King.” Think of Scripture this way: Scripture is not just God’s unfolding plan of redemption, it is but think about what Jesus said, “All,” Moses, Psalms, prophets, “all of those things spoke of me.” Why does God even have a king? Not only to lead and rule his people but to demonstrate and teach his people then and now that we have a King, and even the best king that comes from among men is not adequate. In other words, you need a perfect king and, by the way, from their perspective he was coming. From our perspective he already came and is coming. So I would say in order to teach visibly his own people about who he is and who he would come to be, if that makes sense. It all points to the need for the perfect King. That’s why it didn’t go back to the way it was. So that’s how I would answer that. We’ll address that more as the series unfolds.

Q. How do you tell where the line is between having things and things having you?

A. By the way, I stole that from somebody so that’s not original with Carlos. I wish I could own it. Yeah, it’s not wrong to have things, but it’s wrong for things to have you. And you can put anything for “things,” right? So how do you tell where the line is? Here’s how I do it: everything, everyone that God has given whether through the sweat of my own brow or just by free giving, I hold it with an open hand. It’s in my hand, I use it, I enjoy it, share it, but I don’t have a grip on it. I’m not afraid to lose it. Why? Because God gave it. God gives, God takes, blessed be the name of the Lord, right? Some practical: do things, do people, do gifts, do they dominate my thinking? Do I wake up, go to sleep thinking about those and not the Lord? Those are clues. I’m the type of person, I will live life to the fullest and I think God has given us this life to do just that. Last night I was screaming down a hill with my kids on a skateboard and I was having a blast and I was praising God, “Thank you for the gifts that you give me.” But do I live for pleasure or is it something I just enjoy? So those are the things that I would ask.

Q. Is outward obedience better than no obedience regardless of the motive?

A. That’s a good one. So, this one comes up, I think, with children and then I’ll talk about how it comes up with adults.

Q. Should we teach our kids to obey even before they know why they should obey?

A. I would say yes, and as you’re raising them, tell them why. Always continually tell them why, even if they don’t like it, even if they get mad. But you’re just always speaking to them. “Why?” Because we love God. Because we honor God. God doesn’t love us more because you’re obeying, but he does want you to express your love for him by obeying.

Now what about us? Is it better to obey regardless of the motive? I would have to say no. That may make life easier for you and those around you but at the end of the day if you don’t have a heart and motive to obey God, then you have to ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t know him. Address that. “I don’t know if I’m ready to address that but I’d better do something.” Let me tell you something, you know we’ve said this, you can’t just pile up works and be like, “Well, when they’re finally right then I can cash those in.” It doesn’t work that way. So I would always be looking at motive. Always. If there is no motive, then ask yourself why. Maybe there’s sin in your life or maybe you don’t know the Lord. I mean, you know, can I say it this way? I’m talking about unbelievers, if you don’t know the Lord. Well, hell will be that much easier for you if at least you do that. That’s just not true. It’s not true so I would always look at the motive. Always.

Now I will say this: there are times which we must be willing to meet a pressing need, right? The Bible tells us that. Nor am I saying that motive must be a feeling, an emotion. Motive starts with choice. So I’m not saying, “Okay, I choose to obey the Lord because I trust him, I just don’t feel like it.” That’s not what I’m talking about because there are times when you don’t feel like it but, “Lord, I trust you that this is right and I’ll trust you because I care about you and am loyal to you, not because I’m trying to prove myself but because I trust you.” There might be no feeling to do that but you’ve chosen. That’s the highest act of love, it’s the love of the will. Now, you will find the more you get to know God that love of the will and that knowledge will begin to effect your emotions or how you feel.

So I hope that helps. Last one.

Q. We’re often required to make a judgment on someone’s heart character, such as when calling elders and deacons. How do we do that if it’s not based on a collection of their outside actions?

A. Good question. So, the Lord gives us a list, right? So at the end of the day, can we know for certain 100% like God knows that their heart is in the right place every time? No, we can’t. But he does say here’s how you can measure it. Here’s how you measure that. Are they these types of people? Is there a life of that? Do you talk to them and interact with them, does their life demonstrate it? So we can’t know 100% for certain but there are ways in which… and not just for elders and deacons, I mean, even for us, the fruit of the Spirit, that which God is doing inside of us, what does that look like? So, yeah, we can’t look at the heart and the best way we know is we look at how does the Bible describe it. It’s our rule of thumb, if I could put it that way, and we make a judgment on their character if they’re going to be in leadership or if they’re grown or whether they’re being sinful and that kind of thing, but remember judgment on someone’s character is not for the sake of condemning, it’s for the sake to see if there’s evidence.

So anyway, as the band comes forward and as we transition into a time of communion, we’re going to sing a song that I’m sure you’ve heard before. You’ve sung it before and I want you to think about it because this is what makes the Gospel just shine and blossom and explode in our understanding. Stop and think about the person of God, how great he is, everything you know about him, everything that he has done, and to think that God loved me enough to go to the cross.

The Best Thing You Can Do Today

    1. Study in 1 Samuel
    2. By Todd Stiles

Bible Text: 1 Samuel 15

Preached on: Sunday, March 12, 2017

First Family Church
317 SE Magazine Road
Ankeny, IA 50021

Website: ffclife.com

Online Sermons: www.sermonaudio.com/firstfamilychurch

You’re listening to a sermon delivered at First Family Church from the series “The King and the Kings: Anticipation in the Books of Samuel.” For more information and sermons, visit our website at firstfamily.church.

I have a question for you and the answers will be varied but try to answer in your mind. We’ll be glad a little later that you did. What’s the best thing you could do today? Don’t answer out loud, just personally be thinking: what’s the best thing you could do today? Now, like I said, the answers will vary. They’ll be personal. They’ll be individual and specific, but I would venture to say they’ll all fall under a large umbrella that’s a four letter word. That’s right, the best thing you could do today is actually a four letter word. I’ll spell it for you: o-b-e-y. Say it with me: obey. Without a doubt we’ll see in our text today that the best thing any of us could do today would be to obey.

Now, often you hear that and you think, “Well, that’s what you’re telling us to do,” but actually that “us” is not only the sheep but the Shepherd. It’s all of us: those on the platform, those in the pews, the chairs, those who lead, those who follow. No one is exempt from this best thing that we should do today. We should all obey, your church leaders included.

Now, I’m going to ask Aaron and Brad to come, two of our church elders, and share with you one of the things that the elders are kind of really, I wouldn’t say wrestling with like we don’t want to, but we’re just trying to figure out what’s our next step in this area of obedience for us, to kind of give you maybe some concrete understanding of what it looks like to obey from an elder’s point of view. Here is some information you’ll want to know as a church about how we are making sure that we’re doing the best thing we could do which is to obey.

Aaron: My name is Aaron Crabb and this is Brad Miller. We serve as elders here at First Family Church and we wanted to share some information with you so that you can partner with us in praying about how we as a church can do exactly what Todd said, is continue to obey the direction of the Lord. So it seems to us as an elder group, that over the past, I’d say, six months or year, there has been an ongoing theme that we’ve been bumping up against and it’s us running into people who are really interested in planting churches. We’ve had several folks come to us who want to plant a church maybe in central Iowa or maybe a little further removed and maybe right in the Des Moines area, and it’s kind of happening over and over and it’s making us start to think about maybe the Lord is doing something here. The crossing point continues to be First Family Church and Todd and Chris and folks connecting with us, and to be honest with you, that’s been something that’s been in the DNA of First Family Church for a long time. We’ve wanted to replicate and be assisting in planting churches but, to be honest, we also don’t always know how that works. It could look a lot of different ways and we haven’t really nailed down a specific strategy on how to do that.

So this continues to happen and over the next couple of months, the elder group is going to continue to wrestle with this and we’re looking at getting more specific about what that strategy might be. So we have some folks that have been with us and will continue to be with us in the future. Brad’s going to talk about that. We’ve also been contacted by an individual from the Baptist Convention of Iowa who would like to explore, maybe, a partnership with First Family Church. We don’t know exactly what that is yet but the reason that we want to communicate this today is so that we all as a body can be aware of what we’re wrestling through and that you can join with us in praying about this, okay? We’re praying fervently that the Lord would reveal his will because what we do know for sure is that the number one thing we want to do is be obedient to whatever it is that he calls us to. We’re just not exactly sure what that looks like.

The second reason that we wanted to communicate this today is that so you can join in the conversation with us. So if you have ideas or questions or thoughts about how this might look, we want to open up the conversation and start talking about that as we kind of wrestle through this in the months ahead.

Brad: Thanks, Aaron. So, yeah, questions, comments are welcome. Don’t be surprised, though, if your questions don’t get an answer because we’re in the initial stages of this. But we do value your input and, really, it’s just an attempt to be transparent with you guys. We want you to know what we think and sense God doing in the elders and at First Family Church. So as he mentioned or just along with that, Steve Christiansen and a group of people are already here. Lord willing, they’ll plant later this year. There is another gentleman, his name is Nick Reed, his wife Heather. He’s a pastor that desires to do the same thing. He wants to plant a church and so they have tentatively landed at First Family Church and there’s a group of people, a handful of people with him as well. So if you see different faces, if you see a group off praying somewhere, don’t be alarmed. Ask them what they’re doing. Ask them, hey, join in with them. But that’s exciting. We’re actually really excited about what God may be doing here. We just don’t know exactly fully what that is. So just, again, we want you to know. We want you to pray with us, ask questions, or if you have feedback, we are willing to listen.

Thank you, Aaron. Thank you, Brad. I hope you heard the heartbeat of that, didn’t you? It’s a four letter word, isn’t it? I’ll spell it again for you: o-b-e-y. What does it say? Obey. So our heart is just to say, “God, what are you doing here? How can we obey?” And that’s the heart that we’re looking for in sheep as well, a heart of obedience. And we’re going to see this morning that this really is the best thing you could do today. In fact, the key verse of the chapter we’re going to look at, here’s the key verse. I’ll show it to you. We’ll read just the part in large print. Can we do that? Read with me, ready? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” We’re going to hear more about that verse, kind of unpack what’s around it, but it just kind of leans into the very thing we’re saying. The best thing you could do today is what? Obey. Let’s find out more about that.

1 Samuel 15. We’re continuing in our series called “The Kings and the King.” Here’s the story of Israel’s first king and his rejection. As you know, he has been kind of brought into the loop that his kingdom would not last forever. Here’s another story that kind of highlights why and another encounter in which Samuel reveals this to Saul.

We’re going to look just at 1 Samuel 15. It’ll take place in about three different phases. I’ll spend very little time on phase I and phase III, I want to concentrate on phase II because it’s in phase II this middle portion of the chapter that we find out the real core or the heart behind disobedience. And I think what we’re going to do this morning is we’re going to learn a lot about obedience by analyzing Saul’s disobedience, alright?

Let’s jump into the first phase, that’s verses 1 through 9. It’s what I have termed the act of disobedience. Let’s just kind of understand what’s happening here. I’ll read some verses to you, unpack them, but I’m just going to kind of focus on verse 9 eventually.

Verse 1 says, “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD.'” Circle the word “listen” there. It’s going to show up again, especially in verse 22. So Samuel is encouraged to listen to the Lord through the words of Samuel and this is what the Lord of hosts says in verse 2,

“I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt.” That’s an important verse to understanding 3, 4 and 5, okay? Some folks will see the subsequent verses as like a barbaric act from some supreme deity but it’s not that at all. It’s actually righteous and just punishment from God on the enemies of Israel. So as you read the following, keep that in mind. God is simply fulfilling a promise he made in Exodus 17:14, that he would utterly destroy this tribe from the face of the earth.

Here’s when and how he chose to do that and because he’s God and he’s just and he’s holy, this is a fulfillment of that promise and as such is just and righteous. He says, “I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have.” Now, when it says devote to destruction, that’s a level of judgment in the Old Testament  that was reserved only for select cities and tribes and people. People who opposed God’s people in ways that they brought upon themselves, the most severe type of judgment such as Sodom and Gomorrah, such as Jericho, and in this case, the Amalekites. That’s the phrase “to devote to destruction.” In other words, if you were a soldier, you were not allowed to take anything from there, you weren’t allowed to raid the city and bring spoils back, you weren’t allowed to build up the king’s treasury or build up your own finances or collection with their things, it was all to be destroyed or the phrase here, “devoted to destruction.”

God says to Saul, “You lead the Israelites into doing this to the Amalekites, all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” This was their just retribution for their opposition to Israel earlier.

“So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, ‘Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.'” Here’s the opposite of what the Amalekites did.

So the Kenites received mercy and they departed but Saul then in verse 7, “And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt.” It was a tremendous victory but suddenly in verse 8 he begins to kind of make his own decisions and deviate from the Lord’s command. All things were to be devoted to destruction. Notice all things but instead Saul “took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword.” There is a slight deviation there. Do you see it? I think it is best encapsulated in verse 9 with these two words, “But Saul.” It’s the first time in this chapter we see the word “but,” and it shows Saul’s contrast to the Lord’s command.

“But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them.” Even though that’s exactly what God said to do as just retribution for their opposition to Israel’s exodus. “All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.” And the hint of this verse 9 is: all that they thought was good for them, they kept. They disobeyed God at their own personal discretion.

So what is the act of disobedience here? In a simple phrase, it’s basically a rejection of what God said and a redirection of their efforts to do the opposite. Did you catch that? It’s a rejection and redirection and that’s easy to spot in Saul’s life, it’s easy to spot in the nation of Israel. Yeah, we see what he did. God was clear. He said, “Well, I’ll do part of it, not all of it. I’ll change it.” And we can see how Saul rejected and redirected but can we just be really frank and say to ourselves that’s really what all disobedience is? All disobedience is actually a rejection of what God has said and a redirection of our efforts to do the opposite or something different. It’s actually just doing the wrong thing. We see ourselves as the authority and we see ourselves as the decision makers and so we reject God and sinfully redirect ourselves. Does that make sense? It’s what happened in the text, it’s really what happens to us.

This is the act of disobedience but I think beneath this is something far deeper and I think of greater concern. What drives the act of disobedience? In other words, why is it that we willfully reject and sinfully redirect? What causes that? That unfolds for us in the following verses, what I would say is the core of disobedience.

Beginning in verse 10, follow with me, would you? “The word of the LORD came to Samuel.” Here’s God saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king.” You’ll see that word in verse 29 as well as verse 35. We’ll explain what it means later but God here is expressing divine sorrow over Saul’s actions as a king.

Here’s how he describes him, “for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” In other words, he’s willfully rejected and sinfully redirected. That’s what he’s done here.

“And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.” You’ve got to love Samuel’s heart here. He’s angry, he’s emotional, he’s tearful.

“And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, ‘Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.'” So even after this victory and his disobedience, he considers himself kind of a champion. He makes a monument. He keeps going on to Gilgal.

Samuel there intercepts him and what is Saul’s first sentence? Verse 13, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” That’s an incredible level of self-deception. I mean, we’re newly into Saul’s reign and here he is thinking he’s obeyed the Lord’s command, actually stating that he has when it’s clear he hasn’t.

And it’s clear to Samuel for Samuel then responds, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” I mean, every parent can relate to this. I’m not trying to say that cleaning your room is on the level of this situation here, okay, but I thought about how many times I’ve come home and we’ve asked the kids, “Hey, did you do your chores? Did you clean your room? Unload the dishwasher?” “Sure did.” You look around and you’re like, “You did? What’s with all the mess, then?” You kind of get the sense here like it’s quite clear you’re saying one thing but I am seeing another. I’m hearing another.

Saul’s self-deception is followed by his rationalization. Look what he says in answer to the questions. Notice the third word of verse 15 in the ESV, “Saul said, ‘They,'” circle the word “they” because here he blames the people. Now, if you look back in verse 9, it’s actually Saul and the people who did this, right? His name is mentioned first so Saul is guilty but here in this verse, he ascribes the guilt only to the people and says,

“They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” I think this is incredibly, I would hate to use the word humorous, in one sense, but you can just see Saul, he’s making sure he’s in on the good part. Like, “If there’s credit, count me in. I’ll use the word ‘we.’ Like we devoted to destruction.” But when there is bad stuff, “They did it, Samuel. Can’t you see this?” Now, he builds a monument for himself on the way down to Gilgal, like, “Man, I’m a really great warring king,” but when he’s called on the carpet for his disobedience, he throws the people under the bus. Unless it’s something good, then he jumps on the credit train. You can just see Saul’s insecurity just surfacing over and over.

Samuel is frustrated with this and he says, “Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night.” And Saul says, “Speak.” And so Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.'” Then he asks some more questions, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”

And Saul said to Samuel, here he repeats now deception and rationalization. “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” In other words, “Samuel, the issue is not with me, dude. It’s the people’s fault. Can’t you see that I’ve really obeyed?” Church, are you grasping what’s happening here? The level of self-deception and rationalization, it’s high. He doesn’t even see his own disobedience.

Now, a couple of things about rationalizing I want you to see, first of all. There are two of them in this chapter. Verse 15 and then, of course, around verse 21. But it’s not the first time Saul is engaged in this activity. If you were to go back to chapter 13 about verse 11 and 12, he blames the people there for him trying to grab the role of the priest and offer the sacrifice when Samuel was apparently late. Do you remember that? And he says, “Well, the Philistines were gathering to attack us, the people were scattering,” and so he kind of blames him for his disobedience there. You can see that Saul is a persistent rationalizer which I’m not sure if it’s fed by his self-deception or if it leads to self-deception. Either way they work hand-in-hand. He apparently can’t see correctly and so he reasons incorrectly. He rationalizes consistently.

This is why I think at the end of verse 21 you can see that Samuel is beyond frustrated. He kind of explains in poetic form how terrible his disobedience actually is, even though Saul thinks it’s actually somewhat obedient. He looks at his actions and he’s like, “Well, I’ve done pretty good. I’ve obeyed. I’ve done this. It’s the people who are the problem.” He says, “No. Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,” and I think that’s a direct reference to the previous chapter in 13. And when he grabbed the role of priest and appeared to the people to be able to do something that was never his call to do, does the Lord delight in that appearance of worship, “as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold,” say it with me, “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

Here’s what I think Samuel is saying. I want you to listen very carefully because we may not always catch quite the textual and historical connection here. What did Saul just come away from doing? Grabbing a role that wasn’t his. Refusing to wait on God. And pretending in front of the people to be something he wasn’t. Here, the same thing. He’s going to build a monument to himself, make sure his image is intact. He’s actually throwing the people under the bus so he makes sure that Samuel thinks he’s this valiant king. It seems that Saul was more concerned with making sure that he appeared to obey than actually obeying. Are you watching that? I think that’s really the point of the word “sacrifice”; it’s the point of the word “the fat of rams.” You see, when a Jew would go to the altar, it was not necessarily a private event. When they would go to make their daily or annual sacrifice, others were aware. They knew. Here is Saul is performing things that make him appear to have obeyed. He’s worshiping, he’s even giving the best part of the ram, the fatty portion. “Yeah, man, Saul, you must really love the Lord. You’re doing a good job it appears.” But when no one is watching, what is Saul doing? Saul is actually disobeying and I think the real driving thing with this verse is, and I don’t want to paraphrase it in an incorrect way so hear me out on this, but I think what Samuel is getting to is this: what does the Lord value? He values authentic, personal, private obedience that actually has substance than the appearance of obedience just for the sake of people thinking you’re obedient.

When I was kind of thinking that through and just studying this and meditating, I mean, is this not the American church? Is this not Iowa? Is this not the city in which we live? Hear me kindly: is this not the room of people today? That we’ll do all we can to make sure we look like we obey in this room between 10:30 and noon, but we’ll leave these doors and disobey God Monday through Saturday. I’m not angry at you. I’m not mad at me or you. I’m convicted at times that we think we can hold both things. God does not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices when those are simply to make people think we’re obeying. But what does God value? What is the best thing you could do today? It’s quit pretending to obey and hear and actually obey out there. Quit rationalizing. Quit being self-deceived. Quit blaming others. And realize, “Wow, what I’m involved in is actually disobedience and though I’m trying to make folks think I’m not, I actually am.” And what does God value? God doesn’t value appearances. He’s not into your image. He doesn’t care a lot about your brand, okay? What God cares about is your heart and you’ll find this contrast throughout 1 Samuel because what kind of king did God choose? You’ll see this next week. What kind of king did God choose to replace Saul? A man after God’s own, what? Heart.

Church, something’s wrong and just permit me to pastor you from the platform for a minute, but something’s wrong when we can work hard to pretend that we obey and hear and not think twice about disobedience out there. Something’s wrong with that picture. And when someone brings it to your attention and then immediately you rationalize that away, there’s a problem. Houston, we’ve got a problem. And so I just kind of want to rope you into some of this conviction that I’ve been under, some of the boat that I have been rowing here. Man, Samuel really confronts Saul with some core issues. If you’re more worried about what people think you’re doing, about having the appearance of obedience than you are actually obeying the Lord, but what does God value? What is the best thing you could do, Saul? To obey is better than sacrifice. In other words, obeying the Lord is better than making the appearance of obeying the Lord. That’s what’s happening.

I was thinking about some of the ways we rationalize our sins, some of the things that we do to, you know, give the appearance of that but then I’m really not going to do it. I was thinking about how often we show up at church – and some of these will probably step on your toes a bit, so just permit me to kind of walk in the aisles metaphorically, can I do that? We sometimes will appear to really be connected at church but really we just show up. We kind of sit in a corner, sit somewhere where we don’t have to engage many people, and we really avoid honest, biblical, authentic community, and much of the reason is because we have a past hurt. But can I say to you that avoiding community, biblical Acts-like community, authentic, disciple making kind of community just because you’re only going to stay in the hurt because the actual method by which God will get you out of the hurt and more towards help is through community, the very thing you’re avoiding. But we rationalize by saying this, “But they don’t know how bad I’ve been hurt.” Actually, I would disagree with you. I guarantee you some of those in this church know how deeply you’ve been hurt because most people have a deep hurt in their life. Did you know that? I’ve got them. My wife’s got them. Our kids have them. You’ve got them. It’s the devil’s lie to make you think, “I don’t want to get in a small group. I don’t want to share with people. I’ve been hurt and so that gives me a pass.” Ah, can I just say to you it doesn’t. That’s a rationalization, that you’re avoiding the very avenue of help.

I would actually encourage you, I would nudge you to find a small group, a place of biblical community, authentic Acts-like spiritual community where you can begin to kind of unpack the hurt. If you hear the devil’s lies and stay there, you’ll never deal with it. We tell people a lot, my wife and I we counsel with them, that no one’s without their set of luggage. Can somebody say amen to that? The key is just to make sure it’s packed well because you don’t want to walk around with your luggage always hanging open and your underwear falling out and like, “Man, what’s up with your clothes, dude?” But sometimes we think we have no luggage. I’ve got a set of luggage. I’ve got some suitcases, my wife does, you do. And community, you learn how to pack it well and carry it appropriately and the reason some of you cannot deal with your luggage is because you’re avoiding the very thing that will help you pack it and deal with it well.

So consider this a call to biblical community within the small groups of First Family. Quit rationalizing yourself out of the very thing that God could use to help you. By the way, James echoes this. It’s not really our idea. James says, “confess your faults one to another that you may be healed.” Amen? There is no bigger fan of small groups in this church than me probably and I want to continuously urge you, find a smaller group. Even with all of your hurt and bitterness, some of it which you probably didn’t cause and aren’t responsible for, yes, but find a place where you can say, “Hey, can you help me kind of unpack some of this that I’m bearing and wearing? I need to carry this better. I’m tired of avoiding people and living in isolation and loneliness.”

Sometimes pastors will say this and I’ve heard former pastors say this. This is how we rationalize, “Well, I gave 40 years to the ministry so I’m taking a break for a while.” I know pastors today who don’t actually attend and aren’t involved in a local body of believers because they feel like they’ve been involved for X amount of years so they’ve got some time off. I disagree completely with that. Our responsibility as a Christian doesn’t end just because our job as a pastor may be over. But sometimes in my profession we rationalize away our responsibility by looking at things like that, “Well, you know, I gave them way more hours and time.” Come on, let’s be honest. You’re running from something.

I know men who have said to me, “You don’t know my wife and if you did, you’d know why I look at pornography.” No. I don’t know your wife but that’s beside the point. You should not look at pornography. A picture is not a replacement for your wife. It’s a bad place to be. It’s a place of unhealthy living. Does that make sense? But men I’ve heard rationalize away.

I’ve heard couples rationalize away their stinginess because they say, “Well, it’s a tight month.” I’ve discovered that typically those who aren’t generous when it’s tight really aren’t generous when it’s loose. That generosity is not a bottom line issue. It’s not a financial amount, it’s a heart matter. Amen? I’ve discovered that those who can figure out, “Man, we’re going to give something to the Lord even when it’s tight,” find it able to give when it’s not tight.

Here’s my point: those are just some of the ways that we’ve got to figure out how do we rationalize. Those are just some of the ways that we excuse our sin and disobedience and we actually begin to believe those things are true, and I think it’s all centered around the core problem is this: I think we fear the wrong person. I draw this from the next verse. After Samuel explains to Saul that God’s value system rests in authentic obedience in front of him, it’s not really, God is not concerned about how you look in front of people, he wants you to obey him authentically, honestly. Saul seems to be gripped by this so he says in verse 24, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because,” what does it say next? “I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Here’s the root, I believe, of all disobedience. We fear the wrong person and so because we fear the wrong person, we rationalize, we engage in self-deception, we do whatever we can to maneuver and manipulate to make sure that somebody on a horizontal level is not upset with us, that we’ve got their thumbs up, their approval, when really that’s not the person we should be most concerned about. Amen, church? It’s God’s approval that really matters. It’s God word that matters and when we willfully reject and sinfully redirect our efforts against God to disobey, all driven by this fear of the wrong person, we will rationalize away our disobedience.

I feel like sometimes we do this and this may be a terrible analogy. I feel like sometimes we hold obedience in one hand, something that, you know, tastes good and goes down well, something that does it. This is lemonade. I know a lot of you like lemonade but watch this: they don’t go together well. Are you with me? And don’t press this analogy, it will fall apart, but my point is to show you that sometimes we do this, “Man, a little obedience. That’s awesome. That’s good.” Then right on the heels of that, “Yeah, a little gossip. That’s okay.” And trust me, these don’t mix. I’m not saying that gossip without obedience is good. I’m not trying to say that. I’m trying to show you that sometimes in the American church, yeah, we come here, give the appearance that, “Man, this is good!” All week long we’re actually just a little bit of gossip, a little bit of criticism, a little bit of porn, a little bit of backbiting, a little bit of stinginess. Yeah, a little time with the Lord, sweet devotion. “That’s a good verse I read today.” Oh man, the wrong kind of tv. “Oh yeah, that movie, shouldn’t have watched that probably. Yeah, good small group tonight. That’s great. Yeah, but I really criticized that person for 20 minutes. It wasn’t good, I shouldn’t have done that.” And it seems like sometimes we just are content with this mixture that, trust me, doesn’t taste good. Are you with me? Like there is something wrong with that and there’s something wrong when we think we can have the appearance that we’re obeying and then we rationalize like crazy and make sure everyone believes us but the truth is when everyone’s gone, we don’t think twice about this obedience.

I don’t know if this makes our church grow or it shrinks it, I don’t know if this drives away millennials or if it attracts. I really don’t care. I’m just telling you something, church, that kind of behavior is of no attraction to a lost world. There is no depth or solid sense of values in that. How do we expect to embrace the lostness of our city and witness in a way that has merit and value when all we’re concerned about at times is just appearing to have obeyed. What God values is legitimate, authentic, personal obedience. That’s legit. Is that what you’re doing because that is the best thing you could do today.

The last part of this section, what I call phase II, is Saul somewhat owning things. Do you see this, he says, “I’ve sinned because I feared.” By the way, verse 24, the first time we see the word “I” and the word “sin” together in this chapter. Prior to this verse, it’s been “they did it, but I was a good guy.” Finally Saul says, “I have sinned. I feared the people.” But I want you to notice something in verse 25, he seems now though still to kind of be hanging onto this idea that, “I can still look good.”

“Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the LORD.” This idea of public worship. I mean, even in this, I would say, beginning point of repentance, he’s got this incredible chain of insecurity around him and he is just going to make sure other people think he’s something that he’s really not.

You go down, Samuel says, “No, I won’t do this.” Saul is even more angry. He ceases Samuel’s skirt, verse 28. It tears and Samuel uses this as an illustration of how the Lord has torn the kingdom from his hands and given it to someone better than him, and how God is not going to change this and have regret over this. Saul says again, “I have sinned,” but look what he says in verse 30, “yet honor me now before the elders of my people.” It seems like even though Saul kind of grasped, “I fear the wrong person,” he cannot shake the fact that he’s most concerned with the image that he has in front of other people. He consistently and persistently rationalizes all of his actions and as a result, if I can just say this to you, church, he never makes progress in dealing with his sin. He lives the rest of his life in fear and insecurity and dies a suicide death on the battlefield.

I was thinking this and I want to kind of walk you through what should be your response when you discover disobedience, okay? Like I said, I’m going to spend most of my time here. How should we respond because all of us at times are awakened to like, “Wow, I’ve been rationalizing my sin. I’m actually self-deceived. I’ve got some things that I’ve got to deal with. I’ve been drinking out of both fountains. I’ve got this terrible taste in my mouth. I’ve got the appearance of obeying. I’m really not. God, what do I do?” Some of you may be there right now this morning, the finger of God is pressing on you. What do you do? I kind of charted this out this week. I just want to kind of show you this briefly. I think this is a good biblical response when disobedience is discovered. Watch me for a few moments and see how God might use this. I think this is seen in this chapter if you were to compare this to David, the next king. I think Saul would be the guy on the left, I think David’s the guy on the right. Psalm 51. We’re not there yet, okay? But if you were to take the two characters, this is why one was a man after God’s heart, was a success as Israel’s king, and why one was a failure, because when they realized their disobedience, when they realized, “Who do I actually fear?” one’s response was to continue in haughty rationalization and it became his enemy. We think it’s our ally, don’t we? We think, “Well, if I can get out from under this weight, they’ll think I’m pretty good.” But it’s actually the opposite. What you try to run from will chase you down and strangle you.

We’ve taught our kids this for years and they’ll verify this. They’re all here. If you try to run from responsibility, people will Velcro it to you like crazy. You can’t escape it. They’ll stick it to you. But when something goes wrong, own your part and you’ll find that people will help unstrap the Velcro from you. You know, that’s true in life. You’ve been around someone who is slow to confess, what do you do? You kind of keep trying to hone in, find out why they’re slow to confess. You’re trying to make sure that it sticks to them. Come on, be honest, you do. But when someone is willing to own it, man, you’ll do all you can, you’ll move heaven and earth to try to help them get clean of that.

This is what this is, it’s Saul just continually rationalizing. He opposes any sense of responsibility and he becomes a victim. “The people did it. It wasn’t me. It was their fault.” It soon became Jonathan’s fault, we’ll see. Then it became David’s fault. It was always someone else’s fault in Saul’s life. He was king victim. But when you discover disobedience, the best response is humble responsibility to own it because that’s the pathway to victory.

One, the left side, is a very horizontally directed perspective. It’s all about you and other people. The column on the right, though, is a very vertically directed perspective. It’s about you and God and that’s the way to make progress when disobedience is discovered because that’s – watch this, church – that’s really who you should be afraid of. Did you know that? It’s God. What does he think? What will he do? What does he say? This has really helped me a lot. I don’t want to be someone who fears man, who tracks after Saul. I’d rather be one who fears God, tracks after David. And we all at times discover, “Oh, I’ve been disobedient. What now?” Here’s the answer to that: be humbly responsible and own it. Confess and you’ll find that that’s the best pathway to victory. Do the next right thing.

That’s why I’ve been telling you today, what’s the best thing you could do today? Say it with me: obey. Don’t rationalize. Don’t engage in self-deception. Look at it, hear God’s word and own it, and say, “Okay, I’ll do the next right thing,” and obey the voice of the Lord.

Let’s close out the chapter by seeing the result of this disobedience. Saul never responded, at least in my opinion, never responded well. He appeared to at times but it was always kind of sabotaged by his insecurity and fear of the wrong people. 32 through 35 show us what happens. Samuel actually completes the word of the Lord. You can read that in 32 and 33.

He says in 33, “hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD.” So the Lord’s punishment is now complete. “Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul.” So they parted ways and here’s a very sad verse, “And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death.” Do you see the separation caused here by Saul’s disobedience. That’s sad, isn’t it? These men were friends, but more importantly they were working together for Israel’s best interest. But they never saw each other again until the death. And it says here, “Samuel grieved over Saul,” but more importantly, “the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”

So what’s going on here with the Lord’s regret? This is, I think, insight into one of the results of disobedience is that we grieve the heart of God. The word “regret” here, there is a lot to it. It is a difficult word to grasp. Let must just try to give you kind of a third grade understanding of it, okay? It’s hard for me to grasp as well, and you too. But it doesn’t mean that God wished he hadn’t of done something, okay? Because God actually ordained these events and used human events and even human sinful situations to further his eternal purposes, to bring Israel to their real king eventually. Those were all things that God used so he doesn’t regret doing them, what he grieves over is the sin that the people chose in the midst of that. This is hard to grasp, I know, but it’s really a way the writers have used, a word they’ve used to help us see inside the heart of God, his divine sorrow. It doesn’t mean that God made a mistake or that he wished he had done it differently, it shows God’s divine sorrow in the effects of sin. In separation between Saul and Samuel, in the consequences to Israel, we see into the heart of God that here’s God grieving over sin yet strong enough and holy enough and sovereign enough not to be strapped by it.

What do I draw from this? That what should most deeply disturb you about your disobedience is not that it has affected perhaps a Samuel in your life or other people, but that you have grieved the three-in-one. Holy God is grieved by your sin and though he’s not strapped by it, cornered with it, and he’s not responsible for it, he is so loving and gracious that he is sorrowful for you. In fact, later in the New Testament we read that we’re not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. And by the way, I used the phrase three-in-one for this reason: we know that God the Father is grieved here, we know the Holy Spirit is grieved, and when we sin, we know that Jesus Christ, the head of the church, is grieved as well as his body. Can I say to you in all textual accuracy, heaven and earth feel the weight of your disobedience. The Trinity, the body of Christ, her leaders, when we rationalize and disobey, it’s not a minor incident. Heaven and earth feel the weight of it. And I’ve been pressed upon this just to relay to you the real thing that should disturb us. It’s not that we’ve got some amends to make with people, even though I think that is disturbing and should happen. Yes, I’m not minimizing the horizontal aspect, but do you realize that’s not the end of the story. There is a holy God but our sin, our sin has offended and violated. He grieves over our disobedience. That should cause us, I think that first and foremost should cause us to react and then to deal with things horizontally, yes.

When you read this chapter, there is a hole and you kind of walk through it again, you begin to see why we say today that the best thing you could do today is to obey, to humbly hear God’s word and to simply do what it says. Period. Just do the next right thing. It may not solve everything in the past, it may not mend every relationship, but it’s at least the next right step because to obey is better than sacrifice. Amen? And to listen is better than even the best portion of your offering. That’s why the best thing you could do today is to obey. Not to appear to obey but to actually obey the voice of the Lord.

Now, I’m out of time for questions so I can’t take any this morning. I’ll try to answer them offline. But I want to give you one last nudge towards obedience before I take you to prayer, okay? Here’s some ways to develop a do-the-next-right-thing lifestyle. I won’t spend much time here. I just want to show them all to you at one time. As you read through them, be aware these will help you go down to the right side of that chart. It will help you choose humble responsibility, not haughty rationalization because all of us know that there is something today that we need to do and the best thing you could do is to obey. So will you today obey the Lord? Will you tomorrow obey the Lord? When no one is watching will you say, “Lord, you value authentic, legitimate obedience, not partial obedience, you don’t mean to reject your word and redirect my efforts. You value simple, faithful, trusting obedience even when nobody is looking. I’m just going to do what you said. Period.”

Here’s how you can develop that lifestyle, just pay attention to conviction. And I’d say on the heels of that, the conviction that may be happening in this very moment. And I can sense the Spirit of God working, moving in and out of these aisles. He’s stopping at some of those occupied seats. He’s talking to you guys. He’s putting a finger on your heart. He’s peeling back your chest cavity. He’s poking where it hurts. It’s tender there. Why? Because you’ve been rationalizing away some disobedience and in God’s goodness and lovingkindness, he’s trying to call you out of that. So hear conviction well, okay? Just pay attention. It may be the voice of someone else. If you’re married, it’s probably the voice of your spouse. Hear it. It could be the lifeline you’re looking for.

Let God’s word stand without adjustment. Don’t you grow weary of folks who actually say, “Well, this is what the verse really means.” I think it means what it said. Actually we don’t need to re-word it and adjust it, just let it stand. Let it stand for us.

Listen to the input of others. See your sin from God’s perspective and realize that man’s opinion is temporal but God’s judgment is eternal and this will help you to fear the right person and not the wrong one.

There is so much more we could say and I’m over time. Let me just finish up by asking you this morning to do something with me. Can we bow our heads for a few moments and can we just ask the Lord for the power to obey? Can we do that? To do the next right thing. To actually do the best thing we could do today, obey. Let’s do that, can we? Let’s bow our heads and right there in the sanctuary of your seat, let me bring you some really good news that with all the soberness of this message, and I admit it’s kind of been a reality shaker for us hopefully, with all the calling out that’s happened, here’s some incredibly good news: Jesus dealt with every bit of your disobedience at the cross, alright? And you don’t need to sit in your seat and try to muster up some white-knuckled strength to try to overcome it. Jesus has already overcome it. He has forgiven it at the cross. The key is for you to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let his power work through you. Let his forgiveness flood over you. And then we begin to take steps of humble responsibility in the power of Jesus Christ, in the power of God’s Spirit. I don’t want any single person walking out of here clenching their fist thinking, “I’m going to do better.” I do want all of us walking out of here, though, with our heads bowed in submission to the one who did it perfectly, Jesus Christ, and in his sacrificed body and shed blood – church, listen to me, sheep, listen – Jesus dealt with every single act of your disobedience. He dealt with every root issue of your fear and all he asks now is to believe and to trust and to follow him. Just to obey him. Do the next right thing and you can in the power of God’s Spirit.

So, Lord, I love these guys in front of me this morning. I do. These are great sheep and together, Lord, we are under your authority and we want to be good sheep, God, but I know that disobedience trips so many of us and so many of us rationalize it away just like Saul and we find ourselves continuously trapped in this cycle on the left side of the column and we can never seem to get through our disobedience. Lord, would you bring us to a humble responsible ownership of our sin and then what we do with it at that point is to give it to Jesus who has taken care of it. Lord, help us not to blame others. Keep us from being victims. Help us to pursue victory through owning it, owning it enough to cast all of our cares upon you, to see that though there are many acts of disobedience, it was one man’s obedience that brought life, it was the man Christ Jesus. So God, even on the heels of 35 verses of some sobering, stark truth, gladden our hearts with the good news of the Gospel, that you have come to overcome the works of the devil. That’s sin. That’s disobedience. And so we want to now take some time to remember that moment, that apex of history when the Gospel was personified, visualized, and Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for us. Lord, teach us to run there, to trust in Jesus, to lean on you, to find our refuge and shelter there. As we do, the best thing we could do today, obey.