Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional thoughtfully penned by leaders in DUMC arising from their daily devotions. The devotional’s title, “Our Best Thought” is taken from the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” as a reference to God: “Thou my best thought, by day or by night.” Publishes on Sundays.
Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
1 Samuel 15:10-15 (NIV)
As Saul’s story progresses, we can observe that he is never able to own the wrong he has done when it is pointed out to him.
In 1 Samuel 13, Saul was told to wait for Samuel before offering sacrifices to God and initiating a battle with the Philistines. He didn’t listen, however, and bulldozed ahead impatiently. Even though Saul eventually wins the battle, he did it on his own terms instead of God’s, a point that he seems to never grasp.
His self-ignorance becomes even greater in 1 Samuel 15, where God commands Saul to go and fight against the Amalekites. He was given clear instructions to thoroughly defeat and destroy the Amalekites. However, Saul stopped short, sparing the king and and allowing the soldiers to plunder the spoils, even though he was explicitly told to not let this happen. When Samuel confronts him, Saul somewhat confesses, but with a spin: “The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to make a sacrifice to Yahweh” (1 Samuel 15:15). He justifies his stubbornness as a form of obedience, but he can’t see that’s what he’s doing.
As I sat back, slowed down, and became honest with myself, I realised that I have more in common with Saul than I would care to admit. The whole point of studying Saul's failures is to warn us so we don't repeat his mistakes.
Sin is always rooted in, even for a split moment, thinking I am wiser than God, thinking that I know better than him, thinking my way is better than His way. And in that way, I deny my need for a 'king’. Every human king will be flawed; every human king will fail. Living with a focus on ourselves keeps us from being conformed to God's purpose for us and experiencing the full life he has for us.
Dear heavenly Father, I find myself again in need of a fresh grace as this day unfolds. Thank you for convicting me without condemning me. I know you resist the proud but give grace to the humble, and the last thing I want is to experience your resistance, so, Father, I humble myself before you today. Bring glory to yourself, as you bring me back to the ways of the gospel. Please grant me kindness, humility, and courage to be better. In your most wonderful and merciful name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Timmy Lai is Zone Leader at PJ North 6.
Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional that follows DUMC's Bible Reading Plan. Posts on Sundays.