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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Did Saul See Samuel's Ghost or Not? Part -V-
Review

We asked, and attempted to answer the question: why would God's anointed king, Saul, ever seek a divination from a witch?

In framing this question another question presented itself in the meta: if David knew himself to be God's anointed, why was he so reluctant to kill Saul? Rather than answer that question in the meta, I chose to answer it here in this installment because it is indirectly pertinent to the discussion at hand.

Why was David so reluctant to kill Saul?

When God chose Saul to be the king of Israel, He providentially directed Saul to the place where Samuel was residing as Saul sought his father's missing donkeys. Samuel knew Saul was coming, because God had directed him to anoint Saul as the king over God's people.

Let's pause there for a minute and consider something that not too many believers spend time considering - the fact that God chastises His children.

I suppose we should make a distinction between chastisement and punishment, but in order to do that properly, we need to make yet another distinction; and this one has to do with the divine perspective on what is good and what is evil versus the (all too prevalent) humanistic perspective on what is good and what is evil.

I will start with the humanist perspective. At the core of the humanist moral framework is self. I don't want to die, and I don't want to suffer, therefore it is wrong to kill and it is wrong to cause suffering. Humanism can be distilled into projecting our best interests for our own preservation, onto others. Humanism, when full blown, basically states that I have a "right" to live, and not only that, but I have a right to be free from suffering or oppression of any sort. The best way to ensure that I am preserved is to make my own life something I have a right to.

Those who have come under the influence of humanism wonder how a good God can allow bad things to happen, and by bad things, they mean how can a good God allow death and suffering. They ask this because their definition of good and evil is twisted or rather perverted, in that they define that which preserves life and it's quality as good, and that which takes away life or reduces it's quality as evil - and this they do from the presumption that the preservation of life is a right. Here is wisdom for those of you with eyes to see and ears to hear, they ask how God can allow this because they are so convinced that the preservation of life is an a right, that God Himself must preserve life, lest He show Himself to be evil. That is, because they presume (without any authority other than their own desire to live) that the preservation of life is the ultimate expression of good, they are left to conclude that God Himself must be evil if he allows such things to be.

But the preservation of life is not the ultimate expression of good. In fact, our lives are not our own, for the very breath of life that sustains us belongs (and always has belonged) to God. We have no "right" to life.

Let me explain it this way; let's say I lend my neighbor a hunting rifle. I am (by virtue of ownership) entitled to take it back whenever I feel like it. If many months later I see my neighbor about to go hunting, and I capriciously ask for it back right then, I am doing no evil in taking it back what is mine - even if it means I am thwarting my neighbor's hopes. Maybe he planned to use my rifle to shoot some game, and use the meat to buy and sell in another city, but his plan had a flaw; the rifle wasn't promised to him, and he had no claim on it. So it is with our lives.

God lends us His breath (of life), and we live only insofar as the Lord's grace allows. We neither deserve our lives, nor do we deserve any quality in those lives. Our existence is at God's mercy, and if and when God takes back His breath to Himself, He has done nothing wrong. God is not obligated to preserve life, or to ensure it's quality.

That's a humbling thought - knowing that we live and breath and having our very being in God - that our life is not our own, and that we receive it as grace, so that we have no claim upon it whatsoever. How I loathe myself whenever I think of the many and profound ways I squander this grace - for the man who sees how he has wasted his life knows himself better than most.

To put that into perspective, what it means is that God is not obligated by righteousness to provide us with health and life. God can give sickness and death without being "evil" in doing so. If I take a life, I do evil because I take something that isn't mine to take - the murderer is like one who steals or breaks the borrowed rifle (extending our metaphor). He has destroyed something that wasn't his to destroy. If God takes a life, whether in an act of judgment, or simply according to His own secret counsel, it is as though he destroyed his own rifle. He is allowed to do it, it is His. Murder is murder, not because it is the ending of a life, but because it is the ending of a life by one who has no right to end it.

Why do I go there? I go there because I want to talk about the difference between judgment and chastisement. Sickness and death are used by God to chastise nations, or even (as in the case of Corinth) individual churches. We often think of chastisement as a spiritual wrist slapping; and while it may such, we see again and again in scripture that God will use something like "cleanness of teeth" (i.e. famine) as a prod to cause those children who are ignoring Him to seek Him.

Consider Ananias and Sapphira. They were believers, but they lied to the Holy Spirit, and dropped dead on the spot. Was their sin worse than anyone else's sin? I don't think so. But their death chastised the church. They went to judgment as believers, surely, but the life they were borrowing from God was returned to God as a punctuating chastisement for those who would follow their example. It was severe, but no less severe than at other times. One could rightly argue that their death was an act of judgment, for they were judged for their sin, and their lives were forfeit in that judgment - but the judgment there was just an earthly one. Even those who died in Corinth who were abusing the Lord's table, if these were born again believers, were only judged according to the earth - they still went to the judgment throne upon their deaths, and if they were in Christ, their sin, even though it provoked an earthly judgment, did not undo the work of God in them.

When a believer is disobedient, God chastises that believer; I am reminded of the sacrificial system in Israel, those who had much were expected to sacrifice more than those who had little. To the ones who had, more was expected. That is especially true of those who teach, more is expected of them, and their chastisement is often more intense, for obvious reasons. They must not only preach what is true, but adorn their preaching with a life that reflects the truths they preach. Failure to do so, if they are legitimate children of God, will invite correction. God's preference with His children is clearly that they repent rather than so continue in sin as to jeopardize the mission of the church and in doing so bring about an earthly judgment - that is, God desires for his wayward children to repent rather than continue in willful disobedience and thereby perish.

I am speaking in very broad terms here, in case anyone is interested. There is much to say on this line of thinking, but drilling down at this point would bring this current investigation to a stand still. It is enough to say that God chastises those whom He loves, and that sometimes this chastisement ends in death.

We go this route because we want to understand one thing about Saul - a thing I alluded to in previous posts: Saul, in spite of his willful disobedience, was never the less, a genuine believer.

David understood this.

David could no more kill Saul, than he could kill Samuel. Yes, Saul was wayward, yes Saul was against David, and rebelling against God, but David responded in the same way Paul responds to wicked sin in one of God's children - David delivered Saul to Satan, as it were, that is, David commended Saul, not to his own judgment, but to God's judgment. That is what it means to commend someone to God in this way - it means you leave them to God's mercy, which comes in the familiar form of God removing his protection (lovingkindness, if you will) from the one, so that the enemy (a spirit of calamity) has free reign in the life of the wayward one. This will end in one of two courses; repentance or an earthly judgment.

Saul's life ended in an earthly judgment.

You see, Paul didn't say to the church at Corinth, "put that man to death!", he said deliver this one to Satan - which is to say, call upon God to move this man to repentance by removing His protection from the man, so that the man, in his suffering, sees sin again, as he ought to see it, not from the safe haven of God's loving kindness, which he abused in pursuing sin, but from the outer darkness where he would see sin for what it was, and be more inclined to turn from it; or at the very least, to sever the association between wanton, unrepented sin, and the house of God.

So too David understood that Saul, in spite of all his sin, was still God's anointed. It was not David's place to take the throne from Saul, but God's place to give it to him, as he gave it to Saul. Recall how David almost avenged himself with Nabal? He was on his way to butcher the ingrate when Abigail intervened. What did David do when he met with Abigail? He blessed God, because he recognized that it was God who sent Abigail there for this one purpose, to keep David from avenging himself, and to leave vengeance with the Lord.

David truly believed that vengeance belongs to the Lord and not man. Yes, God had anointed David, and in every sense, the kingdom was promised to David, even as Saul sat upon the throne. Yes, Saul (in his sin) sought to hold onto the crown even after he was well aware that God had anointed David, a man better than himself, to the throne. But it is a testament to David's faith that he didn't take matters into his own hands, but committed himself unto God.

Now, think about what this says about faith.

Just as David was promised the throne, but the world and all that was in it seemed to conspire against (and in so doing bear testimony against) what God had promised; so it is in the life of every genuine believer that having apprehended the promises of God in the gospel, yet it seems at times that these things, while true, cannot be true of us, since we are beset on all sides (and even from within) by adversity. We, like Peter, are inclined to look to the waves and tumult, and take our eyes of our Savior, and thereby sink. But the path David walked was through the valley of the shadow of death, knowing that in spite of how things seemed, God was certainly with him.

A lot of us imagine that the walk of faith is paved in success, when in reality it is paved in failure, the fact that we are still on the path in spite of that testifies not to our tenacity, but to God's faithfulness.

The Take Away From This Fifth Post

Saul was a believer, and David trusted God to deal with Saul according to His own wisdom, and not according to any ambition that struggled to rise up in David. David would not raise his hand against Saul, because it was God's business, and not His to usher out Saul's kingdom, and to usher in David's.

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posted by Daniel @ 10:58 AM  
17 Comments:
  • At 4:12 PM, February 17, 2010, Blogger Chris said…

    Your insight is really amazing.
    I wish I had bible study with you
    all the time.

    Chris

     
  • At 4:49 PM, February 17, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    Chris, thanks for the encouragement. I do the adult Bible Study at our church every Sunday, it is recorded, and put online under the menu item "Sunday Messages" (here) if you want to see what that would be like.

    The audio quality leaves a lot to be desired, and it had a nice, unpolished, small town quality, but if you want to see what it would be like to listen to me drone on and on and on, and on some more- that would be the place to start.

    The "Sunday morning" messages are preached by my pastor (David Hay), and the Sunday School messages are taught by me.

    I find that people either hate my teaching or slightly don't hate it. ;P

     
  • At 6:18 PM, February 17, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    A lot of us imagine that the walk of faith is paved in success, when in reality it is paved in failure, the fact that we are still on the path in spite of that testifies not to our tenacity, but to God's faithfulness.

    Thank you for this, brother.

     
  • At 8:35 PM, February 17, 2010, Blogger Chris said…

    Thanx

     
  • At 9:14 PM, February 17, 2010, Blogger David Kjos said…

    Come on, Daniel, give it up! Was it Samuel, or not? I can't take it!

    I'm not sure I'm with you on the salvation of Saul, bit this is all very interesting. I would attend your class, and mostly slightly not hate it.

    Bless you, Your Loquacity.

     
  • At 10:44 PM, February 17, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Hey, yeah, good point, David! Was this all smoke and mirrors so he didn't have to answer the question he posed for us??? HMMMM.

     
  • At 6:35 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, I hear you on the salvation of Saul. Here was a man chosen by God himself, and anointed, a man who began in faith, and died fighting for Israel as her king, but whose heart was nevertheless, was not entirely the Lord's.

    Clearly Saul was no David, yet if Saul was just one who went out from Israel, but was never truly of Israel, then it really didn't matter that God predestined Saul (through election) to be king, does it?

    The trouble with me at least is that though angels themselves cannot tell a tare from a wheat, yet I believe, because I expect to see fruit, that I am able to tread where angels are afraid to go, that is, I am inclined to say, I am not judging Saul, I am merely a "fruit inspector" who sees sin in Saul and conclude that Saul must therefore be apostate, because, apparently, only apostates continue sinning after they are saved.

    I find it harder to condemn Saul as the years go on. Perhaps I am just less inclined to see it as clearly as I used to, for I am sure I have held the opinion previously that Saul was not *really* saved, but here in the autumn haze of my life, I am less inclined to that particular judgment. It may be that I simply see my own sin continue, and because I love myself I am willing in empathy, to extend the same hope out to Saul as I hold out for myself, I cannot say for sure.

    It may also be that I am recoiling from the obvious Arminian inclination required to see the damnation of Saul in what Saul has done. As I mentioned in the post, there are a lot of things that could be said on this post; certainly there is room to examine what exactly it means to be chosen by God, for if this choosing in no way preserved Saul, how can we say that election is anything at all?

    I digress. All I am saying is that my conviction regarding Saul's salvation is both deeper than revealed here, and incomplete. What I state here is my current sway. Perhaps when I am finished blogging altogether, I shall in my retractions and self corrections (Lord willing and I live), I shall have to correct this point.

    I expect to get to the point of the series in the next couple of posts. ;)

     
  • At 7:29 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger David Kjos said…

    JIBBS,
    You may be right. We'll see if he brings forth fruit, or is a false blogger.

    Daniel,
    In your fear of Arminianism, you may be becoming a free gracer! Anyway, I just don't think you can say with certainty that he was. I'm not saying with certainty that Saul was not saved, but I tend to think he was not.

    Finally, you must repent of calling your stage of life "autumn." It is only mid-summer (on this, I must be dogmatic).

     
  • At 7:41 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, David, David...

    In Manitoba the winters are six months long, spring lasts a month, if that, and summer maybe two. Fall sprawls out for three, often mushing in to winter.

    Perhaps down south I might be in mid summer, but up here, I am in seeing the snow already.

    Re: Saul, free grace? <shiver>;


    I am still not settled in my opinion on Saul. I want him to be saved, that much is certainly true, and I recognize it as a bias. There is also the "sacred cow" of other settled doctrine in my life that an "apostate" Saul would unsettle - and being lazy by nature I suppose I cringe at that too.

    I hope I am not coming across as too dogmatic. I should have included a "individual test results may vary" sort of caveat.

     
  • At 8:13 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger David Kjos said…

    "Down south"?

    For your information, I am at 47° latitude (47° 18" 9', to be precise), right between Winnipeg (52°) and Toronto (43°).

     
  • At 8:16 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, The earth is actually pear shaped. So .. you know....

     
  • At 8:28 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger David Kjos said…

    [correction: 47° 18′ 9″]

    Daniel, are you sure you don't mean that you are actually pear-shaped?

     
  • At 8:32 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, I am more avacado shaped than pear, I believe. I am willing to submit to being in the early autumn, or perhaps in the haze between late summer and early autumn, I might even be persuaded of late summer, but mid summer? That's a night's dream for sure.

     
  • At 8:46 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger David Kjos said…

    Ah, so you're a Guacamole-Canadian. I see.

    Being (I think) somewhat older than you, I must insist that summer has not ended. As much as I long for that final freeze, I cannot believe I'm ¾ (or more) of the way there. That would give me a life-span of (at most) 60, which is certainly enough, but hardly realistic.

     
  • At 11:15 AM, February 18, 2010, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, great post again. I appreciate your Biblical (being faithful to the revelation you have received) expositing of these passages.

    I too would see Saul as one that was 'saved', but of course not as we are with the indwelling of the Spirit. Nevertheless the parallel's between the physical kingdom of Israel and the heavenly kingdom we are constituents of are starkly similar.

    Like Matt and David I too am waiting for the final chapter in this novel.

     
  • At 6:05 PM, February 18, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    On a peripheral note to the discussion of whether or not it was actually Samuel's ghost, I have noticed a trend on cable television in the last year or so where shows dealing with the occult have literally EXPLODED in number. "Paranormal State", "Ghost Hunters", "Paranormal Cops", "Ghost Adventures", "Children of the Paranormal". Those are just a few of the "reality TV" ones. There are many more like them as well and more than a few fictional dramas that depict the genre.

    Many people think these shows are fake (usually because they are skeptics of anything supernatural). I, however, think they are mostly real depictions. There has, it seems, been an almost overnight paradigm shift in the culture of the occult (at least to the extent in which it is profitable). Yet I cannot imagine how many people are being lured into the practice itself by the way it is presented by the TV producers. It's scary.

     
  • At 3:05 PM, February 19, 2010, Anonymous Sabeian said…

    Again Daniel, very informative and wisdom based. I am in no rush for the answer as it is the journey that inspires me equally then just the end of a quest, if you catch my meaning. As for the Autum Haze of your life, I think your exactly where you feel you are. Your Earthly years shouldn't bare counting as you were birthed again in the spirit correct? In Earthly time you feel Autum suits you... I wonder what season you would feel if it applied you your spiritual walk? Just curious. Take care and God Bless Daniel.

     
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