Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1 Samuel 15: Saul's Sacrifice

Much can be said about this chapter, and for a good devotion on the topic, I would as usual recommend D.A. Carson's For the Love of God entry. I'd like to highlight Carson's call that reminders like 1 Samuel 15:22-23 need to be enshrined in contemporary evangelism. Christianity is not a lucky rabbit's foot.

The idea I would like to investigate is Saul as an antitype to Abraham. If you don't remember the account, read Genesis 22 to brush up on Abraham's call to sacrifice his son Isaac.

In Genesis, God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son of promise. In demonstration of complete trust, he goes through with the command up to the point that God stops him as Abraham holds the knife over his son. He obeyed out of faith, knowing that God would keep his word, believing that Isaac would come back to life (Gen 22:5 c.f. Heb 11:19). Abraham knew that God would provide a lamb (Gen 22:8), and what a Lamb he did provide through Abraham (John 1:29).

Contrast this to Saul, who was called to sacrifice (devote to destruction, or utterly destroy) the Amalekites. Normally a king gains the spoils of war for battle success, but in this case God forbids it (1 Sam 15:3). In some sense, this was a test for Saul the same way Issac's sacrifice was a test for Abraham.  But the response and result are entirely different. Saul disobeys a very specific command, lies to God's prophet, tries to shuffle off the blame to others, and gives insincere "repentance." God did not bless his disobedience, but instead demonstrates a divine regret over Saul (1 Sam 15:11, 1 Sam 15:35).

In the end, God called Saul to sacrifice something. But instead of sacrificing what God commanded, he chose to sacrifice his integrity, his honor, and ultimately his kingship.

Are all who call themselves Christians immune to divine regret?

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