As a kid I was pretty well behaved, and when I wasn’t, I had a heart that broke when confronted with my sin. Spankings and groundings weren’t typically necessary for my punishment. All that had to be done was for my parents to confront me with my sin, explain how it impacted others, and remind me that it was displeasing to God and that they expected more of me. I was done in after a good talking to and more often than not, created punishments for myself. However, one incident sticks out in my mind where I was instructed never to ride my bike in the alleys around my neighborhood. Ever. Even with friends. It simply wasn’t allowed. I knew the rule and I knew why it was in place, but one day it simply felt a smidge too oppressive. All of my friends were going on an alley trek and I wanted to go so badly that I convinced myself it was fine. We went and no one got hurt. I figured all was fine and dandy. . .until I came in for dinner and discovered that my mom had seen me in the alleys. Overcome with frustration, I went on this tirade telling her that no one got hurt and I couldn’t possibly be expected to stay back when ALL of my friends were going. That was the closest I came to getting grounded. I’d never even heard the threat of such a thing, but that day I did. I knew I had crossed a line by trying to pretend that what I’d done wasn’t selfish, by trying to blame my friends for pressuring me, and by then claiming the rule to be too harsh. Maybe you’ve been in that boat, sinful but trying to justify. Or maybe you relate more to the position of my parents, having to confront someone who simply throws blame. Either way, it’s not a fun place to be.
This chapter of 1 Samuel is pivotal in the life of Saul. This is the peak of his reign as king. He’s made his decision to disobey God’s commands and then chooses to argue with Samuel about why he did it and even blames his men. It’s all downhill from here and Samuel is rightfully heartbroken and grieved. Even when Saul finally admitted to his sin, he did so with feeble excuses for his behavior and the selfish desire for Samuel to return with him in public support. Things were never the same for Saul. The Lord had rejected him as king. This passage is a good reminder for me, and hopefully you as well, that our actions and attitudes require intentionality. We must remember that if we have Jesus as our King, our first priority is bringing glory to His name. Are we living each day according to His purposes? Are we humbly striving to grow in His wisdom? Or are we simply soothing our own desires by creating weak excuses for our selfishness?