Obedience

Obedience Is Better than Sacrifice

Saul was a lousy king. There are just no two ways about it. He was a crudmuffin.

In 1 Samuel 10, Saul gets his first instruction as king. God didn’t ask him to go out and perform some fantabulous deed of derring do, He told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to arrive and tell him what to do. Just…wait. That was it.

But Saul started getting nervous. He didn’t wait. He acted. He unlawfully took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offerings and peace offerings.

In 1 Samuel 15, God told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites. Everything. Every living creature and all their stuff. All means all.

Strike number two for Saul- he destroyed all the worthless stuff and all the people, but he saved the king and all the valuable stuff.

Here’s the interesting part, though. When Samuel showed up and said, “Why did you disobey the Lord?” Saul said, not once, but twice, “I did obey the Lord.”

Why? Because Saul was going to offer some of those sheep he spared in a grand and showy sacrifice to the Lord. He was going to “do great things for God” and, in his mind, that was far better and more glorious than simple obedience to God’s explicit command.

Know anybody like that in the church today?

Women, who, rather than obeying God’s simple command not to teach or hold authority over men in the church, take matters into their own hands and become pastors or teach men in hopes of “doing great things for God.”

Pastors, who, rather than obeying God’s simple command to preach the Word in and out of season, employ theatrics, silliness, and worldly or sinful tactics to build gargantuan churches to supposedly honor God.

Churches and Christians, who, rather than obeying God’s simple command to avoid false teachers and false doctrine, join with them in the name of so-called Christian unity or ministry.

God doesn’t want the great deeds, ministries, or sacrifices you dream up “for Him.” He wants a heart that’s completely His. A heart that loves Him enough to do His bidding even when it’s small and doesn’t bring you any glory. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it’s hard.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

And that’s exactly the message Saul got that fateful day when he lost the throne:

And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23

Gospel, Old Testament, Salvation, Sin, Sunday School, Types and Shadows

Boldly Approaching the Throne: Shimei ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-25-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 21 ~ May 18-24
1 Chronicles 21-22, 2 Samuel 19-24, Psalm 26, 40-42, 57-58, 61-62, 64, 5, 38, 95, 97-99, 30, 108-110
Boldly Approaching the Throne: Shimei

Background:
As we read last week in 2 Samuel 12, while David repented of his sin with Bathsheba and God forgave him and did not punish him with death, there were still many consequences that naturally followed as a result of his sin. God said to David in 12:11, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house.” We have seen that vividly fulfilled through the actions of two of his sons: Amnon, who raped his sister Tamar, and Absalom, who murdered Amnon and then attempted a coup. In chapters 13-19, we saw Absalom endear himself to the people and begin trying to take David’s throne by force. David gathered those who were loyal to him and fled Jerusalem. Finally, Joab, commander of the army, killed Absalom, and David returned to Jerusalem and was restored to the kingship. Today, we are taking a look at Shimei, the two very different ways he approached the throne (David), and the types and shadows in his story that show us Jesus and ourselves.

2 Samuel 16:5-13

The First Bold Approach: Curses!
Shimei was a member of Saul’s extended family. Even though Saul had repented to David a few times, he was ultimately David’s enemy. Saul had tried to murder David several times, and David had spent years on the run from him. Shemei took this family enmity upon himself and also considered David to be an enemy of Israel since David had taken Saul’s place as king, and because of the sins Shemei perceived David to have committed.

Notice that, while some of the things Shemei said were swearing-294391_640 (1)accurate [“you are a man of blood” (7-8- God Himself had said this. It was the reason He gave for David not building the temple. But God was referring to David being a warrior, not a murderer, as Shemei implied.), “the Lord has avenged you” (8- probably referring to the deaths of Abner, Ishbosheth, and Uriah- we know that what was happening was due to the Bathsheba incident), and “the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom” (8- they didn’t yet know that this was only true temporarily)], the way and context in which he said these things was twisted, and didn’t correctly represent everything that had happened.

It’s not a coincidence that Shimei was throwing rocks at David and his men (sometimes you’re in danger just because of who you’re hanging around with!), nor were the rocks primarily a weapon of convenience. David was guilty of adultery and murder. What was the penalty for these crimes? Death. How was it usually carried out? Stoning.

Shemei only spoke and acted only from his own viewpoint and opinions. Though he claimed to understand what God was doing with David, Shimei did not know God and never brought out what God had said in His word about David rightfully being king, or God’s forgiveness, or God’s rejection of Saul. In Shemei’s eyes, he was right and David was wrong. As a result, he rejected and rebelled against David. It was treason– a crime, ironically, worthy of the death penalty.

Son of David
Can you think of another King, established by God, who was rejected and cursed by His enemies–enemies who thought they knew what God was really up to? How about Jesus? Let’s take a look at some of the things in this story that foreshadow the life of Christ.

v.5- Who’s your daddy? (John 8:44)
Shimei was of the house of the enemy, Saul, who had tried numerous times to murder David. When the Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus, He said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning,”

v. 5-8- Haters gonna hate (Isaiah 53:3, Matthew 27:38-44)
Shemei cursed David continually and leveled false and twisted accusations against David. Isaiah tells us, Jesus “was despised and rejected by men.” We see throughout the gospels that the Pharisees ignored what Scripture said about the Messiah and falsely accused Jesus of things like breaking the Sabbath, breaking Levitical laws (such as touching lepers and dead bodies), and blasphemy (claiming to be God). Finally, at the cross, we see them (much like Shimei did to David) hurling abuse at Jesus.

v. 6-
Stoned
Shemei attempted to execute David for a capital crime. The Pharisees, via the Roman government, executed Jesus for a capital crime (blasphemy). Interesting fact: if it had not been against Roman law for the Jews to execute criminals themselves, Jesus would have been executed by stoning. The important difference to remember here between David and Jesus is that David was guilty. Jesus was not.

fog-258224_640Left and Right (Luke 23:33, John 15:18-20)
Shimei was not just trying to execute David, but also the criminals (in his eyes – guilty by association) on his right and on his left. Jesus was executed between two criminals, “one on His right, and one on his left.

We can also look at David’s mighty men as Jesus’ disciples, and, by extension, us. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you can be in danger just because of who you hang out with, and Jesus made this clear in John 15. He said that if the world hates us or persecutes us to remember that it is because of Him.

v.9-10- Off with his head (John 18:10)
Abishai wanted to take off the head of David’s enemy. Peter, less of a swordsman than Abishai, I’m sure, attempted to take off the head of one of Jesus’ enemies. Neither David nor Jesus allowed his enemy to be beheaded.

v. 10-11- God’s will (Isaiah 53:10, Matthew 26:39, Galatians 3:13)
David wasn’t sure whether or not God was cursing him through Shimei. Jesus knew “it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” When Jesus asked in the garden for God to “let this cup pass” from Him, God said no. “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” Galatians tells us. It was God’s will for Christ to be cursed for us.

v. 12- The reward (Philippians 2:8-10)
David hoped God (lit.) “will look upon my affliction” and repay him with good for this cursing. God did repay Jesus with good for being cursed on the tree of Calvary for our sake:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

v. 13- Forbearance (Isaiah 53:7)
David did not retaliate or even speak to Shimei, but bore his cursing patiently as he walked along the road. Jesus did the same with those who lashed out at Him as He walked the road to the cross:

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

v.14- Crossing over Jordan (Luke 23:43)
The Jordan River was the last hurdle the Israelites had to conquer before entering the Promised Land. “Crossing over Jordan” is often used as a metaphor in songs (especially spirituals, e.g. “Wayfaring Stranger”) for dying. After David’s “near death experience” he wearily came to the Jordan and refreshed himself. King Jesus reached the “Jordan” weary from the cross, and “refreshed Himself” later that day in Paradise.

She-you, She-me, Shemei
If David represents Jesus in this story, who does Shimei represent? Us. Before we were saved, we were Shemei, born into the house of the enemy. We only saw things from our own sinful perspective. Even though we might have thought we had this God thing all figured out, we didn’t know Him and were unable to see or understand His ways. While we might not ever have literally said anything bad about the Lord as Shimei did with David, our sin rained curses down on Christ and made false accusations against Him. We lived our lives in rebellion against, and rejection of, the King. It was treason– a crime worthy of the eternal death penalty. But Jesus, in His kindness, mercy, and grace, bore it patiently and did not strike back at us.

2 Samuel 19:16-17a, 18b-23

The Second Bold Approach: Taking His Life in His Hands
The first time Shimei approached David, it was in arrogance and self-righteousness. This time, he humbles himself. The first time he approached David, Shimei didn’t see him as king. This time, Shimei knows David is the king. Shimei knows all about a king’s power, the power over life and death. Shimei isn’t throwing stones now; he’s throwing himself at David’s feet. He isn’t cursing; he’s repenting. Pleading, even. “Please don’t hold me guilty. Please don’t take what I did and said to heart.” He’s no longer accusing David of sin, he’s confessing and taking responsibility for his own sin without making excuses. All he can hope for is David’s mercy.

Abishai is right in wanting to put Shimei to death. He deserves it. The law demands it. Abishai knows it. David knows it. Shimei knows it. But even though Shimei– the one worthy of death—had tried to kill David (whom God had said would not die 12:13)—David extends mercy, grace, and pardon to him. David knows he’s king and knows the extent of his power, and he uses that power to forgive.

David and Shimei, Jesus and Me
As with Shimei, God awakens us to the fact that we have sinned against an all powerful King, the holy God of the universe. Now we know He’s the King. We know about God’s power—the power over life and death, and eternal life and death. Instead of approaching Him in arrogance and self-prayerrighteousness as Shimei did with David at first, we humble ourselves. We throw ourselves at Christ’s feet in repentance. “Please don’t hold me guilty. Please don’t take what I did and said to heart.” We confess our sin and take responsibility for it with no excuses. All we can hope for is Christ’s mercy. We deserve death. God’s law demands it. We know it, and God knows it. But even though we—the ones worthy of death—put Jesus on the cross with our sin, He extends mercy, grace, and pardon to us. Jesus knows He’s the King and knows the extent of His power, and He uses that power to forgive.

Obedience, Old Testament, Sanctification, Sovereignty of God, Sunday School, Trust

Decisions, Decisions ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-4-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 18 ~ Apr. 27-May 3
1 Chronicles 6-12, 2 Samuel 5:1-10, Psalm 81, 88, 92-93, 102-104, 133, 106-107
Decisions, Decisions

We all face difficult and confusing times of decision in our lives. Should I marry this guy or not? Which job should I take? What’s the best plan of action in X situation? How can we know for sure which decision God wants us to make?

1 Samuel 8:4-7, 2 Samuel 5:1-10
In these two passages, we see Israel’s decision to have a king to rule over them. In the first passage, which we studied a few weeks ago, the leaders wanted Saul (they didn’t know his name yet, but they sure had his résumé!). In the second, they wanted David. Two times when the government of Israel was at a crossroads. Two times when Israel’s leadership wanted a king. Two kings coronated. Similar circumstances, the same desire, similar outcomes. But even though the situations were so similar, were both decisions made the right and godly way?

Let’s take a look at some principles for godly decision-making and see how these principles worked themselves out in the Israelites’ situations with Saul and David.

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Principles for Godly Decision-Making:
One thing we need to be careful about with the following principles is that we are not using them to manipulate God into making us make the right decision. Any time we modify our behavior in order to try to make God do what we want, we’re guilty of idolatry, even if what we want seems to be godly. The principles listed below are all things we should be doing or believing on a daily/regular basis because they are part of the obedient Christian walk, not just because we have a big decision to make. Godly decisions are a side effect of this kind of walk, not the end goal.

1. In order to make godly decisions, you must be saved (1 Corinthians 2:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
People who are unsaved aren’t capable of making godly decisions, because the motivation behind making godly decisions is the desire, from the heart, to please and be obedient to God. God, in His grace, may lead an unsaved person via his circumstances to make a certain decision, but the motive of his heart will still not be to please God. We are not capable of that motive unless we are saved.

2. Delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37:3-4).
Because Christians are new creatures with the mind of Christ, we have an inborn desire to love God, His word, and the things of God (godly preaching, books, music, friends, etc.). But this desire must be cultivated (3- New American Standard Bible translation) through a daily walk with the Lord, spending time in His word and prayer, and intentionally seeking out godly influences.

It’s like one of those “miraculous” weight loss stories we often hear. An extremely obese person decides he’s going to lose weight. The desire of his heart is there—he’s fed up with his looks and poor health, and he wants to tackle the problem and get healthy. But if he doesn’t intentionally do something, the weight isn’t going to come off, despite the desire. He starts off slowly. Maybe he cuts out cokes and walks around the block three times a week. As he progresses, his desire to cut bad things from his diet, add good things, and exercise more, builds. Not only does he see results, but he begins to enjoy the healthier diet and exercise more and more, and becomes even more committed to them. Eventually, he loses the weight and maintains a healthy lifestyle.

That’s how it is with delighting in the Lord. Through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Christ helps us to intentionally cultivate faithfulness, and we grow in our love and affection for the Lord. As a result, He gives us the desires of our heart—to be more Christlike.

With Saul, were the Israelites delighting in the Lord? Definitely not. In fact, it was their lack of delighting in the Lord that led them to demand a king against God’s wishes. With David? Israel had just been through the consequences of having Saul as king and they knew God had ordained that David be the next king, plus he was a great military leader. Which of these motivated them the most? It’s hard to tell, but it feels like they were acquiescing to the inevitable, and the practical desire for military strength rather than repenting and taking an affirmative step towards godliness.

3. God’s word is sufficient for our every need (Hebrews 1:1-3a, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Often, when we read the Bible, it’s easy to long for God to speak to us one on one, through a burning bush, a fleece, a prophet, or some other form of direct revelation. But now that we have God’s complete written Word, we no longer need direct revelation, nor does God want us to seek that. Hebrews and Timothy tell us that God no longer speaks that MH900410128way and that His word is sufficient for our every need. Additionally, we now have access to God’s word any time we need it. We don’t have to wait for Him to miraculously show up. Finally, if we were to rely on signs or “hearing God’s voice,” how could we be sure we’re really hearing from God and not our own sinful inner voice, or worse, Satan? God’s word is absolutely trustworthy. When we read it, we can be 100% certain we’re hearing from God. And remember, Israel (and others in the Bible) did hear directly from God, and they still often disobeyed.

4. Know God’s word and study God’s word in context as it applies to your situation (Psalm 119:11, Deuteronomy 17:14-15).
We must study God’s word daily; even memorize it, so that we can apply it to every aspect of our lives. As we do, it’s very important to study it in context so we can be sure we’re applying the correct biblical principles.

Did Israel know God’s word as it applied to the situation with Saul? Yes. They certainly knew Deuteronomy 17, which predicted they would demand a king, and outlined the regulations for a king of God’s choosing. They also knew that God was, and always had been, the only king they needed, and that He did not want them to demand a king.

With David? Yes. Through Samuel’s prophecy, Israel already knew David was to be the next king and that he had already been anointed.

5. Obey God’s word (1 Samuel 15:22).
As we can see with Israel’s demand for a king (Saul), knowing God’s word isn’t enough. We also have to obey it. Sometimes it can seem like sin is the most practical way out of a situation, but it is only a temporary fix. Even when we try to put a godly spin on our disobedience, as Saul did in 1 Samuel 15, it is still disobedience. As Saul learned the hard way, God wants us to be obedient to Him regardless of our circumstances. With David, Israel, whatever her motivations were, obeyed God and made David king.

6. Know your “bent” (Psalm 139:13-14).
God has created each of us uniquely. We are all “bent” Bent_eye_cranked_bolt_profiletoward certain things and away from others. One of the ways God may show us the things He wants us to do and not do is through the talents, tastes, and abilities He has given us. If you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, that’s a pretty good indication God doesn’t want you to sing for a living. If you love numbers, that may be God’s way of leading you into a math-related field. Other times, we may be thrust into a situation in which we have to learn a new skill. We might just discover a talent we didn’t know we had!

7. Pray, and ask others to pray with you about the situation, especially for wisdom and guidance (James 1:5-6).
Some things we don’t need to pray about because they are clearly taught in God’s word. We don’t need to pray about whether we should attend church regularly, be faithful to our spouses, help those in need, etc. But, some situations aren’t as clear. James tells us that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God for it in faith, and He will give it to us. It’s a promise. We may not feel very wise, but we don’t operate on feelings. We take God at His word and trust Him as we continue to take the next step and the next.

With Saul, did Israel pray about the situation or ask God for wisdom in selecting a king? No. And even though God tried to provide them with wisdom- spelling out the consequences of their demand- they insisted on disobeying Him. They did not need to pray about making David king. God had already made it clear that he was the next to take the throne.

8. God has given you (and others) a brain for a reason (Proverbs 11:14, 24:5-6, 18:15)
Seek counsel from godly people you trust. Take what they say, make sure it matches up with Scripture, and pray about it. In other situations, such as a medical diagnosis, you may need to do some research and gather information so you can make an educated decision. Finally, trust that God, our wonderful Creator has hard wired you with the ability to process information and make the best decision you can with His help and guidance.

With Saul, God directly gave Israel godly counsel and information through Samuel. They chose to reject it and disobey, and suffered the consequences. With David, Israel also had all the information they needed to make the right decision. This time, they obeyed.

9. Trust in God’s sovereignty to direct your steps and work things out for your good (Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:9, Psalm 37:23-24, Romans 8:28).
Sometimes our desire to do what God wants us to do is so strong that we become paralyzed by the fear that we’re going MH900448357to do the wrong thing. When we do that, our trust is no longer in God’s sovereignty over the situation. We have shifted our trust from God—where it should be—to ourselves—where it should not be.

God’s sovereignty over situations does not rest on our actions. We can clearly see this in Israel’s situation with Saul. Even though they didn’t desire to please God, He had complete control of the situation and worked it out for His will to be done in the long run. How much more can we trust God to take care of our situations, if it is our desire to please Him, since He promises to do so?

10. Trust that God understands and has compassion on the frailty of His children (Psalm 103:14).
You aren’t God. You aren’t omniscient, knowing all the ins and outs of your situation. In most cases there is at least some aspect of the situation in which you are powerless. Every time you make a decision, you do it with only partial knowledge and partial control (at best). God knows all of this better than we do. That’s why He tells us to love Him, seek to honor Him, ask Him for wisdom, and trust Him.

 

One of the natural outgrowths of walking with the Lord is making more godly decisions. We must use the resources He has given us: His word, godly counsel, information, prayer, and wisdom, and trust Him to work everything out for our good.

 

Additional Resources:
The Problem with Seeking God’s Will by Matt Papa