20th September 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 14:1-23 (focus v2-3)
Message Alan Burke
On Monday we focused on Jonathan, today we focus on his father Saul. As we do that remember how Jonathan wasn’t a man that was presuming that the Lord would act on his behalf, nor was he willing to go ahead without the Lord rather his words when he went saying ‘perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf’ v6 are a display of faith. What had come before it though gives a different picture of his father. It is v2-3 that gives us a very different picture of Saul than his son Jonathan. As we are given details of Saul either depending on the translation you have either under a pomegranate tree or in a pomegranate cave, either way he’s not doing very much, he’s either hiding from the heat of the day or he’s hiding in a cave from the Philistines. But it’s what we are told of who was with him that sticks out, yes 600 men that of course sticks out when the force that they faced was as numerous as the sand on the seashore, rather it is Ahijah.
Firstly the ephod. The Ephod tells us that Ahijah was the high priest, this is what the high priest wore. We might be tempted to think that this is a turn up for the books, while Saul who hadn’t waited for Samuel to come, he had got his act together, he had sought the council of high priest and brought him amongst the men with him and with the Urim and Thummim Saul could seek the Lord’s guidance as he needed it. Let’s not be hasty though because look what else we are told about Ahijah in v3, ‘He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh’. It almost seems totally unnecessary for us to be given this detail, sure Ahijah was the priest and isn’t that all that matters?
Well no it isn’t, while it is some time since we last looked at 1 Samuel when we focused Eli and learnt about Ichabod and how his name literally means the “The glory of the Lord has departed”, if we had been going through the book continuously it would have been fresh in our mind how Eli was a faithless priest. Long and short of it is he allowed his sons to make the worship of the Lord God a mockery, and the Lord brought judgement on his house and rejected his line because of it (Ch2). We then learn of the judgement of God that came about because of Eli and his sons which all came to a climax because the people took the Ark of the Covenant into battle in effect as a good luck chapter and when it is captured, Eli’s sons are killed in the battle, Eli heard news of all that had happened fell back off his chair breaks his neck and we are told he was old and was heavy. Following that we hear of the birth of Ichabod. Ichabod’s mother also died in child birth so Ahitub is either the older brother of Ichabod or a half brother. What we have is a rejected king seeking the council of a rejected priest, we learn how Saul even though he has heard the judgement of God by Samuel the prophet isn’t happy with it and instead of accepting it, instead of seeking the Lord through his appointed prophet Saul seeks advice of one who has also been rejected by God.
What we see in Saul is what we can see in our own sinful nature, when we don’t like what the word of God teaches, we can be tempted when we don’t like what we hear we either reject it or we turn to someone who will tell us what we want to hear. Human nature is such that when we are confronts us with our sin we have a choice to make, submit to God and his word or rebel, to try to do it our own way and ultimately Saul was trying to do it his own way no matter what God said. When the preacher tells you something you don’t like the question is do you not like it because it is what the scripture teaches and because of your sinful nature, or is it that you don’t like it or is it that the preacher is preaching lies, may I suggest that most of the time the issue is our own not, rather our unwillingness to submit to the Lordship of Christ.
Q51 What is forbidden in the second commandment?
The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, (Deut. 4:15–19, Exod. 32:5,8) or any other way not appointed in his Word. (Deut. 12:31–32)