I feel sorry for the people in the Bible who have had their shortcomings preserved for the world to read, because when we read them, we tend to judge, don’t we? It’s much easier for us to recognize where those people went wrong. And to pat ourselves on the back for avoiding the obstacles they tripped over. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, because who wants to see themselves in the train wrecks that are often splayed over the pages of Scripture? We certainly don’t want to admit that we are anything like the ones who never got their act together, who continued to disobey God even when He’d given them grace after grace after grace, though we will sometimes identify with those “train wrecks” that ended up bringing glory to God in spite of it all.
And so I found myself in a very uncomfortable position last week when I read I Samuel 15:9:
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 not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
Here’s the note I wrote after reading that:
How often am I Saul? How often do I keep the “good” in my life, even when I know it is something God has instructed me to utterly destroy. I don’t have a problem destroying that which I (and those around me) deem worthless. But the good? The things which appear best? When I keep those things that the Lord has instructed me to destroy, the good I thought to save becomes a greater sin than before.
And so I realize that I am Saul. The one with a desire to preserve my reputation with people instead of with God. The one who seeks my own glory alongside the Lord’s. The one who refuses to humble myself in repentance or put God’s instructions above my own desires. I don’t want to go where those characteristics led Saul–to the place of having the kingdom God gifted him stripped away and given to another.
I am Saul, but the end of my story doesn’t have to read the same.
Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. –Psalm 19:12-14