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March 27 Today’s Reading: — 1 Samuel 13-14
“Is Saul among the prophets?”
1 Samuel 10:12
We read in 1 Samuel 10:9 that God gave Saul “another heart.” Samuel had told him that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him, that he would prophesy, and that he would be turned in to another man. Obviously, a great change was wrought upon him. Saul was given “another heart,” and was made “another man.” He no longer sought asses, but a kingdom. Instead of being employed in his father’s service, he was now “another man,” pursuing his own grandeur. But these changes are not to be regarded as the special work of God the Holy Spirit on the heart. Saul was found among the prophets; but was not born of God. He was made “another man,” but not a new man. He was given “another heart,” but not a new heart. There is not a word in the inspired record to indicate that Saul was a regenerate man.
If we are saved by the grace of God, we must be born again, we must be made new creatures in Christ, we must have Christ formed in us, being made partakers of the divine nature, having in us “that new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” No outward situation, no providential changes, however prosperous in themselves, no elevation in social rank or religious order, no increase in power and position, no change of behavior, no improvement of knowledge is to be looked upon as a work of grace in the heart. All those things combined avail nothing without faith in Christ, faith wrought in the heart by the new creation of grace.
When Saul profaned the priest’s office, like Uzzah after him, he put his hand to God’s work, put his hand to God’s Sacrifice, attempted to supplant Christ and his blood atonement, expecting God to accept him and his sacrifice instead. This is a matter of indescribable importance. God always sends people to hell for putting their hand to his Ark, for lifting up their tool upon his Altar, for mixing their works with his grace. Christ alone must be the Offering by which we draw near to God. Christ alone must be the Sacrifice by which we seek acceptance with the Almighty. Christ alone must be our Priest, our Sacrifice, our Righteousness, our Sanctification, and our Atonement. God’s Precious Jesus!
Ever remember Saul. Let me never, like him, bring my poor offerings, or fancied peace offerings, my imaginary good works to God, seeking acceptance with the Holy One by my abominations. Christ alone has made peace by the blood of the cross. To seek acceptance with God in any other way, though with the most costly rites and ceremonies and sacrifices, as Saul did, is to show contempt to his person, his blood, and his finished righteousness. Such profanation calls down the vengeance of heaven upon the person who vainly imagines the he or she is righteous.
But as we, by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, are enabled to look stedfastly to Christ and rely on his precious, sin-atoning blood and sacrifice for acceptance with God, we have testimony from God himself that we are made the righteousness of God in him. Trusting the Lord Jesus Christ, sinners, like you and me, are urged to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
We are compelled by our reading of God’s Word this day to remember the consequences of rebellion and sin. In the history of this man Saul we see the sure consequences of rebellion against God. The word of the Lord assures us, that, “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh, even his enemies to be at peace with him.” But when sinners neglect and despise the Lord God, he turns even their comforts into crosses. And though God gave Saul a crown, he filled it with thorns.
How different things are with God’s elect! How gracious the Lord is, notwithstanding all our multiplied transgressions. By some insignificant instrument like Jonathan, he works out deliverance for his people and turns our crosses into comforts. In the midst of all manifold transgressions, let us never lose sight of God’s mercy, love, and grace flowing to our souls by Christ Jesus. When trials and afflictions are brought to us by our Father’s hand to prove our faith, may God the Holy Spirit give us a steady eye, “looking unto Jesus,” that we might be revived and enlightened with the droppings of his grace, as Jonathan was by the honey he received.
Depend upon it, child of God, in the strength of the Lord Jesus you will find all difficulties as nothing. He can and will make you more than conqueror, through the sovereignty of his power. All obstacles in the way to the accomplishment of his holy purpose will be as nothing, for “there is no restraint to the Lord, to save by many or by few.” And, “as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of your head fall to the ground,” if you are in Christ.