A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a change of heart. I want to linger here a little because as I continue reading 1 Samuel, the matter of the heart keeps pulling me in. Perhaps those are the cords of kindness God uses to bring us closer to Him; the words He whispers to our hearts through His Word…
Earlier in the book of Samuel, God gives Saul a new heart, one that worships Him and wants to please Him. However, once Saul becomes King, we see how he acts according to his own desires, not God’s guidance.
There is so much to learn in this story… I could clearly see what not to do, but more than that, I sensed God gently guiding me to keep my heart in check. An unchecked heart is one that will steer us away from God, much like Saul’s. Here are some lessons we can learn from this story:
Lesson #1: Please God over pleasing others.
On 1 Samuel 13, Saul’s impatience and desire for others’ approval got the best of him. Instead of waiting for Samuel to offer a sacrifice (as instructed), when he saw people leaving him, he decided to offer the sacrifice himself. He wanted to please people over pleasing God.
Is my heart turned towards God or towards my own desires? Do I want to please others over pleasing God?
Lesson #2: Seek God’s guidance when making decisions.
Later on 1 Samuel 14, Saul makes a rash vow based on his own judgment, not seeking godly guidance in the matter. This decision could have ended his son Jonathan’s life. Seeing Jonathan was not at fault and how he had valiantly fought for them, the people ransomed him from his father’s deadly vow.
Am I making rash decisions in my life without seeking godly wisdom and guidance?
Lesson 3: Partial obedience is full disobedience.
So far we can see a pattern on Saul of doing things his way. The heart that once found contentment in God now finds it in following its own desires. We see this pattern again in 1 Samuel 15, where God gives Saul (through Samuel), instructions to destroy Amalek and all they had. Saul and the people kept the best of the land. In doing so, they disobeyed God.
To make matters worse, when confronted about his decision, Saul justified himself by saying they had kept the best of the land to sacrifice it to God. He had partially obeyed God, which was the same as disobeying Him. If God had wanted a sacrifice, He would have asked for it. He was not interested in sacrifice but in obedience (1 Samuel 15:22).
Am I fully obeying God? Am I masking my own decisions with partial obedience to Him? Am I justifying my decisions before God?
A Revoked Calling
In the end, God rejected Saul from being king. His disobedience and continual disregard for God’s will ended up in Him revoking Saul’s kingship. This is how David comes to be anointed as king.
While Samuel looked for the next king (David), God told him to not look at the appearance “for the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks in the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)
Why is the heart so important to God? Proverbs 4:23 tell us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” God looks at our heart because we will act according to what’s in it. Our actions reflect the condition of our heart.
So was David perfect? Why did God choose him? David was full of imperfections, just as we are. What made him so special was the way he opened his heart to God. He was real and laid out his heart before Him.
God does not want us to be perfect but to be real with Him. He wants our heart because it has all our motives, feelings, desires, will, thoughts, and intellect. He wants us to turn our heart towards Him because only then can we align it with His and be obedient. He wants our obedience because in obeying we show our love for Him (1 John 5:3).
Is all of my heart turned towards God? Am I more concerned with being perfect than in being real with God? Am I offering a sacrifice instead of my obedience?
As I type this, the song “All You’ve Ever Wanted” from Casting Crowns comes to mind. I invite you to listen to it and be fully aware of what is in your heart. Lay it out before Him. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect. Give it to Him. He will make it beautiful.
For His glory,