Daily Devotion for March 9, 2018
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This video of Allison Krauss singing Down in the River to Pray features some wonderful old photographs of rural baptisms.
For the Presence of God
O God, be present with me always, dwell within my heart. With thy light and thy Spirit guide my soul, my thoughts, and all my actions, that I may teach thy Word, that thy healing power may be in me and in all the saints of thy church universal.
To Help Everyone I Meet
Holy God, I pray that today the love I show to my fellow man will not be a sham, but fashioned in a sincere heart. May your Holy Spirit be powerful in me, blinding me to annoyances and putting aside selfish greed, so that I may lift up the people I meet, showing them warm affection and leaving them filled with good spirits and confidence. If they are sorrowful, lead me to console them. If they are lost, let me show them the path. Help me always to seek after good rather than evil, and to display, for the whole world to see, the miracle you have worked in my soul.
In the name of Christ, who was always ready to teach and heal and save, I pray,
[Is my love for other humans sincere?]
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
1 Samuel 15:24-35 (abridged) (NASB)
(In verses 1-23, God ordered Saul to destroy the Amelkites, including all the livestock; but Saul spared some of the healthy sheep and goats. Now, God is angry with Saul for his disobedience.)
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors, to one better than you.”
Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Notes on the Scripture
aul goes through four phases of reaction to Samuel’s indictment of him, for failing to destroy the Amelkite livestock: First, he says he retained them to sacrifice to God; then he says, basically, “the people made me do it”; then he confesses his sin; then he begs Samuel for mercy.
We have no reason to doubt that the Hebrews pressured Saul to spare the fat, healthy livestock. The Hebrews were herders, and destroying healthy sheep, goats, etc., was to them like pouring money down the drain. It made no sense.
But God did not (and throughout the Bible, never does) give government to the people. He gave government to Saul; and then, only because the people agitated for a king. He expects Saul to resist the will of the people, when it conflicts with His orders.
To think democracy is somehow “Christian” is a delusion fostered by those who will claim that the Bible says what they want it to say, rather than what is actually written. When God is not our sole king . . . well, the outcome is presaged in Exodus. When Moses climbed Mt. Sinai, the people wasted no time in building a golden calf to worship; and we see the popular tendency to godlessness reflected in the ever-increasing immorality of Western society. Salvation does not lie in civil government, but in Christ and Christ alone. “[A]nd the government shall be upon his shoulder. . . .” (Isaiah 9:6)
Nor does God approve of monarchy. The best one might say about the Hebrew demand for a king is to speculate that God acceded to the request, in order to hasten the destruction of Israel. But certainly, God considered the demand for a king to be a rejection of His holy authority: “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.’” (1 Samuel 8:7)
Which leads us to consider: What form of government does God want us to have? Well, there is no really clear explicit statement in the Bible. We might infer, from the quote above, that God preferred the tribal/elder form of government prevalent in Judges to a monarchy. On the other hand, we see a continual ebb and flow of holiness in the Hebrews during this period; they are constantly veering off course, only to be returned to the path by a great prophet or judge, such as Moses, Joshua, or Samuel.
We also see this sort of government in very early Christianity, where ultimate authority lay with a council of elders in Jerusalem. And we see it today, in Amish communities. One might speculate that this is the “most-favored” form of civil government in the Bible. But again, civil government, being always human, is a dead-end. Our only salvation is in Christ.