St. John's Lutheran Church

Week of Pentecost 8 – Wednesday Devotion

Readings:  1 Samuel 14:47-15:9  and Acts 24:1-23

1 Samuel 15: 1-3  And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”

 

“Repentant and  Restored”

Amalek had stood in the way. He opposed God’s people. He opposed God’s plan. The word of God that came through Samuel to Saul was to devote his family and possessions to total destruction. 

Doesn’t that seem rather harsh? Yet, does not this happen to those who continue to oppose God and His plan? He devotes them to the destruction of Hell. God warns us. Do we heed His warning?

People reflect that a loving God would never do that. Yet it is this same loving God Who continues to call people to repent, to turn to Him, to have that love revealed. As a loving parent disciplines an errant child, so does our loving God discipline us. 

Does Saul listen to the words Samuel speaks? He journeys to destroy the Amalekites, but forgets the total destruction part of the command. Saul puts the people to death. He destroys the despised and worthless things. But he does not destroy everything.

Saul spares the sheep and oxen and fattened calves and lambs and all that is seen as good.  When Samuel hears the sheep and asks, Saul tries to explain it away by saying they were kept to sacrifice to God.

Isn’t that how it often is? When caught in a sin, we try to explain it away. We try to rationalize what we have done or point at others and what they are doing. We blame anyone and everyone except ourselves, not wanting to take responsibility for our actions.

Instead, what if we take responsibility? What if we repent and ask God for forgiveness for what we did? What if we come unto His loving arms and live the realization of Jesus’ death on the cross for us? It makes a difference!

The Israelites had asked God for a king. In doing so, they were rejecting the leadership of their true King, the God of all creation. It was not unusual for them to turn from God, even though God continued to call them back and forgive them for their rebellious nature. He does the same for us.

We hear the call of Jesus from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Those words were not just for those gathered at the foot of the cross. Nor were they just for the religious leaders of the day who continued to oppose Jesus, even to the point of sending Him to the cross. Jesus speaks those words for us.

How often have you done something and, in reflection, wondered why? Do you hear Jesus’ words of forgiveness for you? Lay down your burdens at His feet.  In His love, He takes away your sins – forever. 

When a rebellious child returns home and asks for forgiveness they are restored to the family. There may be consequences for their action, consequences that display the love of the parent as they try to better the child. In the same way, when we return to our Father in heaven and ask for forgiveness, He restores us to His family.  He assures us of His love for us. Yes, there are consequences for our rebelliousness. We are told that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the righteous who need no repentance. And, who doesn’t need to repent?

 

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, in Your mercy, lead us to put away our sinful thoughts, desires, and ways, turning instead to You in repentance. As we lay our sins before You, restore us and shape us to be faithful to You, even to death, through Jesus, Your Son and our Savior. Amen.