Practical Application of the Word of God
The life of Saul, the first king of Israel, has many lessons for us as Christians.
Here are some of the ones that stood out to me as I was going through the book of I Samuel recently.
These lessons should resonate with us as Christians every day of our lives, but they should perhaps be even more at the front of our minds as we approach the beginning of another year’s journey through the plan of God’s salvation of all humanity by observing (the word observe in Hebrew implies a depth that the word keep doesn’t: retain, treasure up (in memory), guard, watch, heed, preserve, and protect are a few of the meanings of observe) the holy days He has commanded us to observe (Leviticus 23).
The Passover, the Night to Be Much Observed, and the Days of Unleavened Bread bring Saul’s story home to each of us personally as we prepare to once again renew our commitment to God and His word and His way of life.
We see our own proclivities toward sin. And, sometimes, like Saul, we make excuses or blame other people or things, instead of confessing to God that we sinned against Him and asking for forgiveness, reconciliation, and removal of those sins through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Not following in Saul’s footsteps of blame and excuses should be one of the action items on our spiritual performance planning list for this year and we should spend time with God asking for Him to remove that leavening from us and replace it with the unleavened bread of taking ownership and responsibility for our sins and repenting immediately instead of procrastinating or trying to weasel our way out of it.
Taking our calling seriously all the time should also be one of the action items on our spiritual performance planning list, not just in words that we say, but in who we are, what we think, and what we do all the time. This is the mission statement that Christ gave us in Matthew 6:33 and our lives – every single part of them – must be in sync with that mission statement.
Making sure that we are continually staying close to God should be another action item on our spiritual performance planning list. We do this through spending quality time daily in prayer, meditation, and God’s word.
If we spend all our time somewhere else and make no time for God, then that somewhere else is ultimately where we will look for our answers in life instead of to God.
For me, the thought that God can take His spirit away from me literally makes me sick to my stomach. I ask God daily the same thing David did in Psalm 51:11. Because I know if I don’t have God and Jesus Christ in this life with me, I might as well hang it up. There is no life without them.
And as we deleaven our physical lives, I think it’s important to remember that it is God and Jesus Christ who deleaven our spiritual lives. Just as our homes and offices can’t clean the leaven out of themselves, we can’t get rid of the leaven in ourselves.
But we do have a responsibility in this process.
We have to be willing to be deleavened and we have to be willing to be unleavened (this is a lifelong process, not just a seven-day period each spring).
We have to cooperate, participate in, and yield to this deleavening and unleavening process continually, even if at times, we have to be shaken violently (think of a toaster), scrubbed vigorously (think of stoves, ovens, refrigerators), or some sort of deep-cleaning agent (think bleach – when I see the word hyssop, which is an astringent, in Psalm 51, in my mind I always substitute the word “bleach” because I know firsthand how bleach cleans) has to be applied to get us totally clean.
What I’ve described is what trials do to us. I often hear people say that their first response to trials is to ask “Why?” Maybe it is for a lot of people, but that question never crosses my mind. I know why because God’s word tells me why.
My question is always “What?” What do I need to learn? What do You want me to do? What am I doing wrong that I need to change? What is the outcome of this supposed to look like in me?
And, it’s interesting, even though the trials can cave in on me and literally take my feet out from under me, and I get to a point where I just don’t know how I can survive them any longer, God never stops showing me things that I need to learn and things that I wasn’t even aware of that I need to change.
So, spiritually, even though I’d prefer a once-over-lightly-and-let’s-declare-it-clean (which, by the way, none of us do in the deleavening process, so why would God do it with us?), the deep cleaning of God’s deleavening and unleavening is ultimately for our own good.
Saul decided for himself what was for his own good and we see the results of the choices he made. I hope we all let God decide what’s best for us, which is not just now, but for eternity, so that we can see the promises fulfilled that He has made to us and that cannot be broken.