Several years ago I saw a book in a small gift shop in Coronado titled “IF.” Such a small word; such a big subject! The dictionary defines ‘if’ as “a condition or qualification” and that certainly is what it implies in 1 Samuel 12:14. Samuel tells the people on behalf of the Lord that IF they fear the Lord and serve and obey him…and IF both the people and the king who reigns over them follow the Lord – good! But IF not…
We all know that Saul’s reign wasn’t always ‘good’, don’t we? Neither the people nor the king feared, served, obeyed or followed God, at least not completely or whole-heartedly. By using the IF word, Samuel made God’s message clear: You have a choice! And the choice will have consequences.
Why is it that we, just like Saul and the Israelites, so often choose poorly? We’re a self-serving bunch, you know?
I recently picked up another book, this time in the Family Christian Bookstore in Escondido. It’s titled Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart by Kyle Idleman. I’m having a hard time putting it down. Idleman, as Max Lucado says on the front cover, “knows where we live and where we could live with God’s help.” Right from reading the first pages of the book I can see how easy it was for Saul and the Israelites to mess up. “Power, circumstances and options” (as Pastor Sean told us on Sunday) replaced purpose, salvation and obedience. Eventually Samuel gives Saul this indictment: “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and given it to one of your neighbors – to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man that he should change his mind.” (1 Sam. 15:28-29)
That neighbor, as we will see this coming week in The Story, is David, a “man after God’s own heart.” He will face the full force of Saul’s jealousy and idolatrous ways, and yet emerge victorious.
Just as with David, God wants us to be victorious. And the only way to achieve it is to make God the King in our lives. Anything or anyone else is idolatry.
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