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Today we begin a new sermon series entitled Powerplay: Powerful Lesson from Powerful Men.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine the lives of the most politically powerful men in the Old Testament.
From Saul to Josiah, we will learn some lessons from the men who, for better or worse, shaped the direction of God’s Choses.
Today we look at Saul, the first King of Israel who knew the importance, but never really learned the lesson of obedience.
Just why is obedience so important, and why is it so easy to say we want it when we really don’t.
Maybe this will explain it.
Have you been there?
You know the right thing to do, and you know that all the excuses you’ve been making for why you’re about to pull the trigger on this bad decision or that one are nothing but lame rationalizations, yet you find if hard, almost impossible to change course.
What is up with that?
Why do we find it so hard to do the things we know are right and, actually, in our best interests?
Well, there are a number of reasons.
They shout at us from a humorously tragic story of the first king of Israel.
Read his story with me:
Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel.
Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.
But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them.
But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
10 Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.”
And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.
12 So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” 13 Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord!
I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”
15 And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet!
And I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
And he said to him, “Speak on.”
17 So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel?
And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?
18 Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’
19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?
Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?”
20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
22 So 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 heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”
These moments around God’s word could be life changing for some of us this morning, and Oh how we need lives to change!
Some of us need a wake up call.
We’ve been sleep walking close to the cliff of defection and disobedience in our lives.
We’ve been flirting with that woman at work, or that man in our office; we’ve been rolling around this or that sin in our minds and we’re about to walk right off the cliff of disobedience and you need Saul’s story to be for you a divine slap in the face.
You need to wake up.
Otherse need to be rescued.
You’ve already walked off the cliff of disobedience.
You’re free-falling towards a hard landing that may see you lose your home and everything you own.
You know that when you’re found out, you may even land in prison.
As you are falling you need to know that all along the cliff face, God has put his branches of forgiveness, but you’ve got to reach out and grab one.
That’s what today’s sermon is for you.
It’s an opportunity to be rescued from the disaster that’s coming if you don’t’ repent.
Others of us have already landed.
Sin has already ravaged your life.
You are here this morning because you are in despair over the consequences you brought on yourself, and your life seems absolutely hopeless.
You need hope, the hope of forgiveness.
To those who need a wake up call; to those who need rescue, and to those who need hope, God’s word gives it to us in this story.
A careful study of this story from Saul’s life reveals not only how important it is to obey God, it also shows you how you can do it, by His grace.
There are three pathways to obedience, the kind of obedience that rescues you and brings hope.
The power of obedience can be found, first of all,
Since Saul was so disobedient to God, the obvious implication of this point is that he was disobedient because he did not fear God.
If you read the whole story of Saul, you’ll find that, over and over again, he displayed a complete lack of the fear of God.
Now, it wasn’t that he didn’t have fear, its that he had the wrong kind of fear.
His life demonstrates for us the alternatives we all have when it comes to fear.
What are those alternatives?
Basically, there are two.
You will either fear God, or you will fear man.
And the principle that flows from these alternatives is this: If you fear God, you will not fear man; and if you fear man, you cannot fear God.
The two are mutually exclusive and their truth is clearly seen in the life of Saul.
Simply put, Saul was a people-pleaser and a man-fearer.
His life, and especially the sins he committed, flowed from his fear of men.
You see his first major blunder in chapter 13 of 1 Samuel.
Saul assembles the men of Israel to go to war against the Philistines.
Before he could begin the battle, he had to wait for Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice to God.
So he gets there with 3000 men ready to go to war.
He waits one day for Samuel, and he doesn’t come.
He’s getting impatient.
Here he is with his people all primed and ready for battle.
If he doesn’t move quickly, they may have time to think about this battle in which they are about to engage.
They can look across the line and see them.
The Bible says in 1 Sam 13:
Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude.
And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven.
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits.
7 And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
The rats are fleeing the ship.
If they don’t attack fast, all will be lost.
Day two passes, still no Samuel.
He begins to wonder why he hasn’t shown up.
“Maybe something’s happened to him, he thinks.”
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