Direction Follows Devotion
Day: 14 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel
Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 14
1 Samuel 14:6 (NIV) “Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.’”
Saul is a man with the appearance of holiness, but without a foundation of faith. He goes through the motions of piety, but is motivated mostly by selfish and rash inclinations. Because of this hypocrisy, so many stories of Saul are a mix of victory and defeat, clarity and confusion, leadership and compromise. In today’s passage the inconsistency of Saul is highlighted by Jonathan’s unwavering commitment to God.
Jonathan bravely attacks the Philistines acknowledging God’s presence with Israel and judgment over their sinful enemies. Jonathan trusts God’s power saying, “nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6b). Jonathan’s actions are decisive and faith-filled. Jonathan and his armor-bearer kill 20 Philistines and the Lord follows their assault with a debilitating earthquake that confuses and terrifies the rest of the Philistine army.
While his son is boldly following the Lord’s lead to attack the Philistines, Saul is hiding out with his troops. When he looks to see the Philistines panic, Saul decides to attack, but also wants to take the ark with him into battle. Considering that the last time Israel took the ark into battle it was lost, Saul’s inclination seems foolish.
Certainly desiring the presence of the Lord is wise, but if Saul had the great faith his son demonstrated, he would have realized the Lord had already delivered the Philistines into his hands.
Spiritual indecision can result from a lack of spiritual devotion. This chapter shows how Saul speaks rash vows, acts in inconsistent ways and is unsure of the Lord’s will. Saul fails to demonstrate godly leadership and devotion as king.
What is the difference between how these two men approach the same enemy and the same battle? Most scholars agree Jonathan was a man consumed with the glory of God, emboldened by his faith and committed to trust God’s protection and plan. Saul, it seems, did not keep in step with God’s plans, doubts the activity of God and works to discern God’s will without having the discipline to walk in God’s ways.
Are we like Saul or Jonathan? Let’s not be like Saul, offering spiritual devotion when we need direction, but content to lead our lives like we want until we need God’s help. No. Jonathan demonstrates just the opposite. Often we find God’s direction when we give God our devotion.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am desperate for Your direction in my life right now. I confess that in seasons of distress, I try all kinds of godly practices. My Bible reading suddenly increases. My prayer life peaks. My confession of sin multiplies. But these actions aren’t really to bring You glory or to honor my relationship with You. I realize now, that like Saul, I’m trying to barter behavior to earn Your blessings. Oh God, help these good practices be a part of my everyday devotion to You, not a ploy to manipulate You to speak or act in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Saul is a complex character to study in Scripture. Even today’s passage seems to show Saul... Read More
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