Call to Worship June 27 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 14:24-46

Decreeing faulty commands often results in sinful behavior in other areas. Israel had just been delivered by God from the Philistines, yet Saul did not stop in thanksgiving and praise. He decided to burden the consciences of the people with a command not given by the LORD. He commanded them to stamp out the enemy, but with no physical sustenance to aid them in their task. The complete defeat of the Philistines was not the problem. It was the additional command of eating no food, “until I have avenged myself on my enemies,” which was the issue (14:24).

His order was fraught with problems. First, Saul once again had not consulted the LORD on such a command. Second, not everyone heard the directive of Saul, one being his own son, Jonathan.  Also, his command lacked wisdom for food was essential in completing the task and the good of the army. Finally, his heart was focused on his vengeance and not the Lord’s. It is not until after grave sin is committed by the people that Saul finally consults the true King of heaven and earth for further direction. Yet, the Lord does not answer him on that day (14:31-37). Saul was forceful in action without consultation and thoughtfulness by faith. So the sin of the people followed because of his leadership.

The people obeyed Saul and disobeyed the LORD their God. Saul placed them under unnecessary hardship and Israel followed his order. Even though honey was readily available to give them energy in their pursuit, they did not eat of any food while they pursued the Philistines. They were so weary and famished they did not finish the task (14:30). Instead, they “greedily” slaughtered livestock and ate them raw, which was in direct violation of God’s law (Gen. 9:4, Lev. 3:17). An improper decree against food stifled the scriptural context of commanded food consumption. Saul bound their consciences to an unspoken law and fueled their disobedience toward the written law. Certainly, the people were bound to obey God first, but faulty leadership hampered their pursuit of God.

God always makes His commands clear and available to all his intended hearers. Sadly, Saul was not focused on clarity among all his intended hearers. Saul was focused on his vengeance and did not make sure that his own son heard his command. The scripture does not indicate any fault in Jonathan for not hearing the command. So it is more likely Saul’s focus on his self-righteousness and vengeance was the issue at hand. Saul led the people astray and almost had his son put to death. Thankfully the people had enough wisdom, by God’s grace, to recognize who the more thoughtful and God-honoring leader was amongst Israel. Therefore, they called Saul off the execution before he made another egregious error as king.

We must be careful in our leadership spheres not to put undue or unbiblical commands on people’s consciences. We seek to know the righteousness of God’s word and kingdom apart from the sinful considerations of the flesh and the world. This is especially true of fathers and mothers. It is important only to place on the consciences of those around us that which is most clear from God’s word. May we help our children understand biblical sin versus cultural sin. May we teach them to know their sin before God and seek His grace through his Son Jesus, whose life He did not spare. His Son was executed due to God’s sovereign omniscience by an eternal covenant, not a blundering, thoughtless decree. Remember to consult the Lord and His word when giving commands to those under your leadership. His wisdom is always better than ours. Soli Deo Gloria!