January 28 – Embarrassed Eyes See Dimly

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Recently, I was going over the account of Israel’s first king with my children and all of a sudden, there it was. God miraculously peeled back the invisible curtain and revealed a truth I had never considered in all the times I have recounted this historical event.

The scene starts with Prophet Samuel giving King Saul some clear-cut instructions from God (I Samuel 15). But instead of obeying, Saul took the liberty to modify the command to fit his own pious plans. Later, when Samuel returned and confronted him, he denied any wrongdoing and justified his actions without even flinching.

And it wasn’t until Samuel told him that God had rejected him as king that he finally said, “Ok, what I did was wrong and I’m sorry, but Samuel, please don’t make me look bad. Come back home with me and acknowledge my victory before all my people (my paraphrase).”

 As I wove into my child-like embellishment all the other times Saul had done a “half-baked” job of obeying God, I saw it. This would-be king was so afraid of falling flat on his face, his vision was impaired. Every order he received was sifted through an internal grid of “no matter what happens, I can’t look bad.”

He cared more about being embarrassed before the masses than he did about being embraced by the Master. Wow! Then I stopped, and reminisced over times in my own life when I was guilty of the same kind of short-sightedness. Ouch!

I admit, I have never relished being the back-end of cruel jokes and jeers. So much so, that as a kid, my parents had to drill into me the absolute necessity of telling the truth. Back then, I would waste no time fabricating or falsifying a few key facts to avoid looking bad.

Even now, it is daily time with God that helps keep my heart delicate and non-deceptive when it comes to obeying His wishes, regardless of how it might make me look before the crowd.

I pray this is not your struggle. I hope when it comes to being embarrassed you are untouchable. But chances are, I am not alone. And if that’s the case, my encouragement is the same as what I offered each of my children (as I took a dose myself).

Acknowledge the tendency before God and ask Him to raid the cupboards of your heart in search of this “vision thief.” Ask Him to set your sight “aright.” That way, you and I don’t wake up one day to find ourselves paranoid and alone, thinking everybody is out to get us (like King Saul). To obey is better than sacrifice!

Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.” I Samuel 15:30 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep your foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.

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October 13 – A Tale of Two Kings

When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness. Proverbs 11:2

The good book gives a historical account of two kings that ruled the children of Israel, God’s Chosen People.

The first was Saul, the son of Kish the Mighty. This young man was handsome, rich and a head taller than all of his kinsman (I Samuel 9:1-2). He had everything going for him, but when he was set in as first king of Israel, he became prideful and it ultimately caused him to lose the kingdom (I Samuel 13:13-14).

Then there was David. This would-be king was humility and servant-leadership personified. The youngest son of his father Jesse, he spent his early days watching over his father’s sheep. As a matter of fact, when the Prophet of Israel came to town to anoint the next king of Israel, David’s dad didn’t even send for him (I Samuel 16:1-13).

To date, David is known as the king of Israel that proved, even in the midst of a grave mistake, that he was a man after God’s own heart. Therefore, God Almighty paid him the highest honor any earthly king could ever wish for; He sent His only begotten Son through his lineage and one day He, the Son of God, will sit on the throne of David and rule the nations (II Samuel 7:1-29).

Pride is a funny thing. It makes you feel responsible, but it secretly undermines a complete dependence on God. The truth of the matter in the case of the two kings is David messed up much more than Saul if you measure the severity of their mistakes. The difference maker with God, however, was the attitude of their hearts. When confronted with his sin, David was broken and genuinely repentant (II Samuel 11-12). Saul, on the other hand, justified his behavior and apologized only to save face before the people (I Samuel 15).

May today find me broken rather than embarrassed. And may God find humility in my attitude rather than haughty self-defense. Though we are human, He has provided us with all kinds of help to get in a spot where He can pour on the blessings. But at the end of the day, we have to be willing before we will ever truly be obedient.