||Chosen no: R-5638 a, from: 1915 Year.
|Change lang |
LESSONS FROM SAUL'S FAILURES
--MARCH 21. - 1 SAMUEL 14:1-46.--
OBEDIENCE WITHOUT ITS SPIRIT CAUSED SAUL'S DIFFICULTIES - THE KINGDOM, TAKEN FROM SAUL'S FAMILY, GIVEN TO DAVID, "A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART" - SAUL PROFITED PARTIALLY BY HIS MISTAKES AND WAS BLESSED ACCORDINGLY - LESSONS FOR EVERYBODY - PARTICULARLY FOR GOD'S CONSECRATED PEOPLE.
"Let us put on the armor of light." - Romans 13:12.
THE army which gathered to Saul, and which
accomplished the victory of our last Study,
was disbanded; and subsequently the king
had a standing army of three thousand men.
One thousand of these were under command
of his son Jonathan. The remainder constituted
a royal guard and were immediately
under Saul's own directions. Apparently
the land of Israel was completely dominated
by the Philistines, who here and there had
garrisons. These were content to take a certain amount
of tax from the people, much as the British govern India.
The Israelites were poorly armed; for the Philistines
would not permit them to have weapons of war lest they
should rebel. Similarly, the British prevent war munitions
from going to India for the same reason. When
therefore Jonathan made an attack upon the garrison of
the Philistines and wiped it out, it raised a hubbub, much
as such a circumstance would do if the people of India
were to rise against the British garrison there. It meant
war. The Hebrews trembled at what might be the result,
just as the people of India would tremble at what the
British might do in a similar case.
The Philistines increased their army of occupation;
and the Israelites--unarmed, except with agricultural implements,
etc.--were terrorized by the warlike Philistines.
Saul's army of three thousand dwindled to six hundred;
yet the word which reached him from the Prophet Samuel
was, to wait seven days for his arrival, apparently with the
intention that the people should thoroughly feel their
impotence, and cry unto the Lord for succor. King Saul
did as directed to the extent of waiting seven days; and
with the expiration of the time, seeing how his army was
dwindling and that Samuel had not returned, he on the
seventh day undertook to be his own priest. He offered up
sacrifices to God without authority.
Just as he had finished the sacrifices, the Prophet
Samuel appeared, reproved him sharply, and told him
that because of his failure to fully obey the Lord, his
family should not be continued as the Lord's representatives
in the Kingdom of Israel. The king apologized, explained
the circumstances--thought it necessary to do
something, and that what he did was the only thing he
could think of. Very few kings or generals of our day
would be prepared to do any nearer the will of the Lord
than did King Saul. Very few would have waited seven
days at all, or would have paid any attention to the
Prophet. Very few would have apologized to the Prophet
afterwards, and explained why they attempted to offer
sacrifice to God.
We cannot but think that if King Saul had been given
further opportunities he might gradually have learned the
lesson of implicit obedience to God; and yet our next
lesson will show us that he again failed along the very
same lines. It requires many experiences to teach some of
us the lesson of complete reliance on the Lord and full
obedience to His every requirement. Perhaps the Lord
was wishing to teach a special lesson along this line--that
any king sitting upon the typical throne of the Lord must
be implicitly obedient, not merely to the letter of the command,
but also to its spirit; for Israel's kings to a considerable
extent foreshadowed the Kingdom of Christ and
His Church. Those who will be joint-heirs with Messiah
in His Kingdom of glory must learn obedience; else they
will not be accounted worthy of the honors of the Kingdom.
They must not only be outwardly obedient, but inwardly
obedient to the spirit or intent of the Lord's Law.
ONLY PRIESTS MIGHT SACRIFICE
While passing, we do well to note why King Saul's
sacrifice of burnt offerings to the Lord was condemned as
a sin. This was because God had made a specific law to
the effect that only the priests might offer sacrifices. Then
comes the question, Why should God limit the offering of
sacrifices to the priestly tribe? The answer is that that
tribe typically represented the Church--fully consecrated
to God and accepted by Him. These the Apostle styled
the antitypes, not only of Israel's kings, but also of Israel's
priests. St. Peter says of the Church in general, and not
of the clergy in particular, "Ye are a Royal Priesthood."
In the antitype, all of God's consecrated people are
prospective kings and are sacrificing priests. Unless these
saintly Christians sacrifice their earthly interests, their
present lives, they will not get the great reward of joint-heirship
with Christ, the great Chief Priest of their profession.
As we read, "If we suffer with Him, we shall also
reign with Him"; and again, St. Paul says, "I beseech you,
brethren,...present your bodies a living sacrifice."
It would be therefore a mistake for us to suppose, as
some do, that the clergy have special priestly offices now,
and are commissioned to offer mass and prayers. Let us
remember that there is only one great High Priest--the
Lord Jesus--that He offered up Himself in the days of
His flesh, and has passed beyond the Veil into glory, and
that He has since been offering up His consecrated people,
who present themselves to Him in the proper spirit of
submission and self-sacrifice.
The Bible recognizes no division of the people of God
into clergy and laity. This was a snare of the Adversary,
introduced gradually in the third and fourth centuries.
The Bible teaching is that all spirit-begotten children of
[R5638 : page 62] God are members of the antitypical Royal Priesthood, that
they are all brethren, that they are all ordained or authorized
to preach the Message of God's grace as presented
in God's Word; and that they should call no man on the
earth father; but should realize that One is their Father,
even God, and that the Lord Jesus is their Elder Brother.
CRAVING FOR ANOTHER CHANCE
How many of the human family have felt, when they
reached their death-beds, that if they had life to live over
again, their lessons of experience would be precious and
enable them to do much better! The man or the woman
who has not had some experiences along this line of
failures and endeavored to surmount them and to do better,
has lived his life very much in vain. Let us therefore
encourage one another to strive for high ideals, and not
to be discouraged by our unintentional failures. This is
expressed by the little quotation which we all learned in
childhood, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
That little message which came to our childish minds was
a valuable one. It helped us over many a discouragement.
Beset by our own weaknesses with which we were born,
surrounded by others who similarly have weaknesses of
mind, body and morals, and assaulted, as the Scriptures
assure us we are, by Satan and the fallen angels, who seek
to ensnare us and divert us from God and from righteousness,
is it any wonder that we fail to come up to our own
highest ideals, and therefore fail still more seriously to
come up to the perfect standards of God's Word?
The very simplest statement of God's Law is the
Golden Rule. Yet how many who understand that Golden
Rule and its spirit perfectly could claim that they live up
to its requirements every hour, every day? "Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy
soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." All that any of us
can do is to be honest with ourselves, to confess our
delinquencies, to strive daily to overcome these and to
attain more and more to the Divine standards in thought,
in word, in deed.
It is a further lesson, which only Christians have
learned, that it is impossible to live up to the standards of
this Law, and that we need the covering of the Redeemer's
merit--even after we have surrendered all to Him to seek
to walk in His steps--to cover our shortcomings and to
continue us in relationship with God. Another lesson
which the Christian learns is that those continuing in
relationship with God find not only forgiveness for trespasses
unintentionally committed, but find also grace to
help, assistances for every need--through the same Savior.
Thus the Christian is learning of his own weaknesses
and of God's mercy, and growing strong in battling for the
right day by day. He not only has a second chance, but
has many repeated chances, day by day, of repentance of
sin and of making a fresh start after recovery from the
stumbling, through the merit of Christ.
King Saul in our lesson had no such experiences; the
Savior had not yet died; He had not yet appeared in the
presence of God, to offer an atonement or to open up a new
way of life. Saul, therefore, had only the arrangement
which was common to all Jews--the typical Day of Atonement,
once every year, to atone for the sins of the whole
people for one year, including the typical priesthood,
through whom the message of God was communicated to
them. And being himself partly a type, King Saul was
necessarily dealt with along the lines of strict justice, and
[R5639 : page 62] the kingdom was declared to be forfeited by his family because
of his offering to the Lord a sacrifice not authorized.
THE WORLD IN THE FUTURE
Gradually Bible students are learning that the story of
our various creeds of Christendom is untrue, which tells
that all the heathen have gone to eternal torture, and all
the Jews similarly, because they did not believe in the Lord
Jesus Christ; and furthermore, that nearly all the people
of civilized lands who have died, have gone to eternal
torture because, having heard of Christ, they did not become
His saintly followers. These terrible doctrines have
driven many away from God and from His Book, as
people seem to realize their horrors and injustice.
Bible students are coming to see that God has provided
two trials for the whole world of mankind. The first
trial was in Eden, Father Adam being the representative
of himself and his race. That trial ended in disaster to all
concerned. Unless God had made an arrangement for a
second trial, none of the human family would ever gain
eternal life or escape the sentence that came on them there.
The death of Christ was for the very purpose of giving a
second trial to Adam and all his race; as the Apostle declares,
"As by man came death, by man comes also the
Resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, even
so all in Christ shall be made alive; every man in his own
order."--1 Corinthians 15:21-23.
During this Gospel Age, those who believe the Message
of the Gospel, and who consecrate themselves fully to the
Lord and whom He accepts by the begetting of the Holy
Spirit--these become New Creatures in Christ, and these
New Creatures are on trial a second time--their destiny
being either everlasting life on the spirit plane or everlasting
death. The remainder of the world are still in the
condemned condition; or, as the Apostle says, they have
not yet escaped the condemnation that is on the world.
There is only the one way of escape now--through accepting
Christ on the terms of discipleship.
However, we see that God's provision for a second
trial includes the remainder of mankind who do not now
hear, or who do not now accept Christ and are not now
begotten again as New Creatures. The world in general
is to have its trial time during the Millennium. Then, "the
knowledge of the glory of God will fill the whole earth."
Then, "all shall know Him from the least to the greatest."
They will not have the opposition of Satan; for he will be
bound during that time. They will have the assistance of
Christ and of the glorified Church, the Royal Priesthood.
The object of that Millennial Kingdom will be to uplift
the world--to bring all the willing and obedient back
again to human perfection and everlasting life, and to
destroy all the incorrigible ones, who refuse when they
have that full and second opportunity. In this connection
we are reminded of the words of the poet:
"I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning-again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all our poor, selfish grief
Could be dropped, like a shabby old coat, at the door
And never put on again."
The poet's words are to come true, and the time is near
at hand. If, as Bible students are realizing, the present
European War is a prelude to the anarchy of the great
Battle of Armageddon, and is the vestibule to the Kingdom
of Messiah, then the time of putting off the "shabby old
coat" of present imperfection on the part of mankind in
general is near at hand. Surely all who have themselves
put off the filthy rags of their own righteousness, and by
faith put on the Robe of Christ's Righteousness, can rejoice
that the poor world--heathen, Jew, and civilized
Gentiles--may all have so good an opportunity as God's
[R5639 : page 63] love and mercy have provided for them through the great
Sacrifice made at Calvary, when "Jesus Christ by the
grace of God, tasted death for every man"; that he who
believeth on Him, whether now or in the future, should
not perish, but might gain everlasting life.
Not only so, but as Jesus gives all who come unto Him
the gracious opportunity whereby they may "try, try
again," and gradually demonstrate, cultivate their loyalty
to God and to righteousness, so the Bible intimates an
opportunity will be given to the world in general. For a
thousand years the world will have the opportunity of
trying, trying again, peradventure that by the many lessons
of that time they may learn righteousness and come
fully into accord with the Great King Eternal and His
glorious Golden Rule. This the Scriptures assure us respecting
the Millennium: "When the judgments of the
Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world
will learn righteousness."--Isaiah 26:9.
JONATHAN'S FAITH WAS REWARDED
Our lesson proceeds to tell the story of how Jonathan
and his armor-bearer, blessed of the Lord, were victorious
over the enemies; and how the Philistines, divided into
three parties, mistook each other for Hebrews and
slaughtered one another.