Saul was consumed with himself. See what a price he paid for his pride, continual defensiveness, and paranoia! As we will see in future readings, the difference between Saul and his successor, David, was not their sin but their repentance. Saul left a stinking legacy (Ecclesiastes 10:1), but David is remembered as a “man after God’s own heart” (13:14).
How do you handle your sin? Be thorough in repentance.
The chief end of man is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 1). In today’s reading, we see that the Philistines learned the hard way that if a people will not glorify God, they not only fail to fulfill their purpose, but they experience severe judgment.
Learn from the horrible example of the Philistines.
Eli’s sons, though priests, were under the control of Satan, a liar and deceiver. He blinds the minds of those who will not believe God (2 Corinthians 4:4). He poses as an angel of light so that his captives do not perceive their true condition (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Pray for those who are in this state, that God, who is sovereign even over Satan, may grant them faith and repentance.
Mother Teresa is attributed with this saying, “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.” I agree with this thought, yet in God’s eyes faithfulness to Him is true success. In this reading we find that God led His people to war three times and they failed the first two. No reason was given.
Teresa was right in warning us not to assume that faithfulness will always result in what we commonly call success.
Yes, failure is sometimes God’s will for us. Jesus’ death looked like failure, at first. Think about it.
When a society throws off the restraints of God’s law and its members do what is right in their own eyes, they open the door to unspeakable evil. Here we see how this played out in Israel. It is not a pretty scene.
Not unlike the society we read about in Judges, post-modern man overestimates his wisdom to know and do what is morally correct. He has rejected God’s law and leaned to his own understanding. As a result, he honors what is despicable and punishes righteousness. “Everyone is doing it!” he says. “Nothing’s gonna stop us now,” he sings. It happened in ancient Israel and it is happening again in our time.
“Not so fast,” the Bible warns us. God is still the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25). Romans 2:5 tells us, “ But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Here we read about Jephthah, best known for his foolish vow that resulted in his offering his daughter as a human sacrifice. But there is an interesting account of his diplomatic negotiations with the Ammonites (Judges 11:12ff). The two sides discuss their opposing views of the history of their conflict. Jephthah sees the hand of God in the matter. The Ammonites, not surprisingly, do not.
Clearly, one’s world view affects one’s interpretation of history. Even when there is no dispute over what happened there can be a dispute over why it happened and what we should conclude about it. Jephthah had the correct interpretation of what happened and in the end he was proven to be in the right.