April 13 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“…now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
~1 Samuel 13:14

The career of Israel’s first king receives mixed reviews. Saul begins his reign at the age of thirty and rules the land for forty-two years. He proves to be a formidable leader, particularly in battle. However, there are hints in today’s reading that Israel’s first king has a serious character flaw, a flaw that will be his undoing. Saul’s pride in his position sometimes overwhelms his sense of service to the Lord. On one occasion, Saul decides not to wait for the prophet to arrive before going into battle. Samuel, who is responsible for leading the troops in worship, is late so Saul conducts the service himself. Samuel is agog at the king’s hubris! On another occasion, he issues an impulsive order to his army calling for a complete fast until the enemy is defeated. Presumably, the king intended to keep the army on task with no time for rest or food. Jonathan, the king’s son and a celebrated warrior, evidently does not hear the order. In the course of battle, he stops for a brief moment to take some honey. Upon discovering that Jonathan has “defied” his command, Saul sentences his own son to death. Talk about overkill! Wow. This talented man has let his position go to his head.

As we have already learned in Scripture, blessing comes from God and is given to us for our good, for the good of others, and ultimately for His glory. But God’s blessings can do strange things to the human heart. Position, power, and money can change a person. We have all witnessed the curse that blessing becomes when the heart does not remain humble. However, C. S. Lewis reminds us that a heart hardens so incrementally that one hardly notices it happening. “Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one– the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts” (The Screwtape Letters). Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we do not realize that we are about to lose our lives until it is too late. Saul’s newfound power and influence changed him, and because of his pride, the kingdom was taken from him. It happened gradually, but it happened.

Make sure that God’s blessings don’t change you! Keep going to church faithfully. (Have you noticed there is sometimes a drop off in church attendance when someone gains the time and money to be gone a lot?) Keep giving back a portion of your blessings for the growth of the kingdom and the glory of God. Keep yourself accountable and under the authority of an elder, pastor, or a group of strong Christian friends. Ask them to get in your grill if you get off the path! Keep your heart focused on God and your head too. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.