16th October 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 15:24-35 (focus v24)
Message Alan Burke
How good are you at saying sorry? I’ll not mention names here but I know individuals who never say sorry and avoid making any recognition that they are culpable in any way and if there is someone at fault it’s not them. They are like Mary Poppins, practically prefect in every way! You might be reading this and suspect that I’m talking about you and you might be right but here is not the forum to have conversations like that although some really wise people seem to air everything in the open. Anyway how good are you at saying sorry? I suspect even if you think you are good at it you’re not, we don’t like having to say it and we are very good at saying that word which we don’t really even when we don’t mean it just to get ourselves out of some stick wicket. As we return to 1 Samuel once more we pick up just after another failure of Saul, he had once more failed to obey the Lord and instead of holding his hands up and saying sorry he protests his innocence, blaming everyone else but not accepting the responsibility that lay firmly upon his shoulders. It is not as if he had been given a particularly complicated task by the Lord, he was simply to devote everything to destruction and Saul couldn’t even do that.
Saul had used detail, self justification but he missed the point entirely, what the Lord required was faithful obedience, his actions may have been sincere in but they were misguided for he failed to obey, he had been disobedient to the Lord and his word. His actions had shown that he had disobeyed the Lord that he had rejected his rule in his life and because of this, the Lord had reacted Saul as his king. Samuel makes plain the justice of God's verdict. These verses that focus on Saul confront us of the need for genuine repentance for the Lord knows all. The heart of the matter can tell a different story to the words that we speak.
To Samuel’s rebuke that comes in v22-23 Saul finally seems to get it, he for the first time it seems confesses his sin and says in v24 'I have sinned, I have violated’. That’s how it is translated in the NIV, the ESV and the KJV have something fairly similar, they say “I have sinned, I have transgressed”. While the differences in these words is subtle after all the word violated means to break, to fail to comply the word transgressed means to go beyond. The Hebrew word is better conveyed by the word transgress, for Saul by his actions by his inactions in thought and word and deed had yes broken, he had violated, but it was more than that for he had gone well beyond what he should have, he knew better. He confesses to Samuel that he had transgressed the Lord’s ‘commands’ as well as Samuel’s instructions as he goes on to say in verse 24.
Look at the reason to why he transgressed the Lord’s commands and Samuels instructions, because this is tragic especially when you consider that Saul was to lead the people, he transgressed the law of God because in his words, it was because he feared the people, he listened to their voice. Saul was afraid of the people. Saul was a people pleaser, he was the one who was supposed to lead the people of God, he was to fear the Lord not the people. The fear of people is an entirely different thing than fearing the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a filial fear, it is as the book of Proverbs reminds us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, fearing the Lord is right and appropriate for he is the creator God who is far greater than we can even begin to imagine. Fear here though speaks not of terror but of filial fear, that of a child to their parent, they fear offending, fear rejection, fear causing hurt or pain by their actions. Saul’s heart was not the Lord’s he cared more about others opinions than he did the Lord and it is tragic. Do you fear people more than God, Jesus said Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Mt 10:28–31). We should be those who fear God and not man.
Q71 What is required in the seventh commandment?
The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbour’ s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior. (1 Cor. 7:2–3,5,34,36, Col. 4:6, 1 Pet. 3:2)