How To Be Acceptable in God's Sight Under the Old Testament or Under the New: Obey, Obey, Obey.

Text for the Week: I Samuel

Memory verse: I Samuel 15: 22 "And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams."

Narrative: The book of I Samuel is a study in two characters: Saul and David. There is a marked contrast between the two. Both had their weaknesses, and both committed some atrocious sins. But the difference ultimately would be that of obedience.

Big_Picture Perspective: We have long discussed, even argued, whether faith or works or grace has the biggest part in our salvation. Certainly scripture can be cited, showing the value of each (Hebrews 11: 6; James 2: 14-26; Ephesians 2: 8-10). Probably we should not be pitting one against the other, but rather putting obedience above all three and making sure that we obey.

We can obey by believing something that God has commanded us to believe (see I John 3: 23; 4: 7; 4: 15), do what God has commanded us to do (see Titus 3: 14, John 14: 15, II Thessalonians 1: 6-10 for only a few passages emphasizing works), and sometimes to not do but rather to let God handle some things (Matthew 6: 25-33). Believing, doing, and not-doing all are forms of obedience. We might call these "faiths", "works", and "graces" for this purpose.

The Bible Story: Who will be acceptable?

I Samuel 13: 5-14. Saul did not wait to let the appointed one, Samuel, offer the sacrifices. He rushed into the ceremonies himself. ". . . Your kingdom shall not endure."

But David waited until Saul was fully removed from office as king until he assumed the office for which David had already been anointed (I Samuel 17: 13). Though he had several chances to kill Saul, he served Saul in his palace until God fully removed him. Isaiah 40: "30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Message: sometimes letting God do it is the right thing. Man has created all kinds of problems by "selling" Christianity for him, making the Gospel more palatable, tricking people to come to church, and making the Bible "more user-friendly."

Sparing the unpleasant parts because he didn't like them (works): See I Samuel 15: 1-31.

Killing people and animals doesn't seem like a very nice job--but God said to do it. Saul decided he would do only the parts that he wanted to do. He is not unlike people today who read the Bible with their scizzors in their hands.

When David faced a similar situation (I Samuel 31: 8-19) he did all that God commanded him (v.8). This form of obedience is called works.

What about faith? How did each man obey or not obey with regard to believing what God had told him?

Saul showed a lack of faith in God by not believing what he had been told about doing sacrifices acceptably or by doing the military operation he was told to do. But David showed his faith by his obedience (James 2: 18 "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.")

Saul was removed from his office by God and eventually died by his own sword. David was a man after God's own heart and the author of many of the Psalms such as the 23rd and 40th (vs. 1-8). What a contrast!

How obedient are you to God today? And, to put it another way, how are you obedient to Him today?

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