This morning I enjoyed connecting with my friend Jim Szakmeister when I went to pick up a men’s ministry shirt at church today. I have known Jim for a number of years and I always enjoy my time with him. Before heading to our Saturday evening church service I did have a good fitness center workout with some exercise bike time and swimming some laps. During some of these times, I reflect back on a year ago and remember where I was, and feel grateful for the progress that I am making.

Tonight after church we met Ted and Murlene Grizzel’s granddaughter, Rachel who is living in Canyon City and is a student of world view studies in a program designed for high school students preparing for college. This type of instruction is of great value to our youth as they arm themselves for future impact on their world. We were pleased to find an acquaintance of ours from over 30 years ago is the director or the school.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:22,23

I ended my reading through the Bible and have been reading “The Book of God” “The Bible as a Novel” I have been reading the story of Saul becoming Israel’s first King and a couple of concepts jumped out at me that I had not focused on in the past.

In the beginning Saul was a “reluctant king.” Like Gideon he viewed himself as the least of his father’s family and the least of Israel’s tribe. Yet as he was anointed by the prophet Samuel, God changed his heart and he became the political and military leader over the tribes of Israel.

In the course of time two events led to Saul’s downfall as a leader. Both of these had a basis in the “sin of presumption.” A fitting definition of presumption in these situations is “behavior perceived as arrogant, disrespectful, and transgressing the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.”

The first was when he was preparing for a battle against the Philistines and Samuel did not show up when Saul expected. Saul saw the restlessness in the people and took matters into his own hands and in presumption offered the sacrifice that was only the right of priests to call on God’s favor for the victory in battle.

Samuel arrived before the sacrifice was completed and rebuked Saul saying…

…“You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever…” 1 Samuel 13:13

The presumption of Saul in this situation was created by impatience. When we become impatient with God, we tend to take things into our own hands and the outcome is worse than if we would have waited just a little longer. What we see in Samuel’s  rebuke of Saul is that impatience leads to missing out not only on God’s provision, but on God’s promise for a better future than what we can secure in our own strength and wisdom.

The next situation arose when the Lord instructed Saul to take revenge on the Amalekites. God’s instructions to Saul were these, “Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destructionall that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” 1 Samuel 15:3

These are harsh and in our day hard to understand instructions. But the Lord like the city of Jericho had determined that these people should be destroyed because of their past battles with Israel and they ungodly lifestyle. When something is “devoted to the Lord” that means the normal “rules of engagement” are called off. No bounty for the troops, no taking captive the enemy king. But Saul in his presumption modified the instructions and took the King captive and spared some of the “best” of the flocks for sacrifice.

I have usually focused on obedience in Samuel’s rebuke, but I believe it is more important to focus on, “…presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” When we take things into our own hands, when we place our preferences over the Lord’s we act in arrogance and beyond the limits of what we are permitted. That at least is sin and at most is idolatry because we place ourselves and our views and ideas above God’s.

Then I notice that Saul said to Samuel, “I spared the best of the livestock for sacrifice to the Lord your God.”  I’m not sure if he was trying to get sympathy by saying, “I did this for you!” or if he did not honor the Lord as his God. In the Old Testament we see the need for each generation to not only obey and honor the Lord, but to embrace the Lord as their God. It is one thing to recognize the Lord as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Or the God of the prophet or priest or my parents. It is another to declare, “the Lord is my God.”

When we have a personal relationship with Lord, it will have an impact on the value we place on obedience and the power that is available to keep us from presumptive sins. Perhaps the prayer of David is more important to us than we realize, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!”  Psalm 19:13