Friday, October 26, 2012

Stott: "Saul's Early Promise"

From Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Baker: 2006) at page 75:

1 Samuel 10:24
1 Samuel 9:1-2, 15-17

In 1 Samuel 9:15-17 God says of Saul to Samuel, “He will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me.”

However, Stott writes that

Saul was not so successful [as he was with the Ammonites] . . . in overthrowing the Philistines, who maintained military garrisons on Israelite soil, from which they sent out raiding parties. It was a constant humiliation to Israel.

Saul frustrates God’s purpose for him as Israel’s leader. Stott writes that Saul “was unable to control his emotions,” citing 1 Samuel 18:10: “An evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul.” As a result, Stott writes, “anger, bitterness, and jealousy engulfed him.”

This raises issues about how God’s will works and how man’s will interacts with it.

Here we have God’s intention for Saul clearly expressed. God intends for Saul to rid the land of Philistines and even says to Samuel that he will do so. Yet Saul fails. Did God know that Saul would fail? We would think that he would have known, because he is God. Then why would he tell Samuel that Saul would be successful?

Stott writes that Saul was unable to control his emotions and that God sent an evil spirit upon him. Was Saul unable to control his emotions because of the evil spirit? Was he otherwise unable to control his emotions, thus inviting the evil spirit? How was Saul “unable?” Did his will permit his emotions to control his behavior? In other words, did he choose that way of living in the first place, so that he remained morally responsible for everything that followed?

If we see Saul as a sort of everyman, then we must identify the natural, harmful tendency, peculiar to us, that threatens mastery. We are challenged to withstand it – to seek God’s aid and grace in doing so, so that we can accomplish whatever work he would have us do and for which he placed us at this time and place.

Heavenly Father, I do pray for that aid and grace in Jesus’ name.

No comments: