After God’s Heart: Part 1
1 Samuel 13:1-14
Aligning one’s heart with God’s is a significant accomplishment in the partnership between God and man.
The act of loving God does not originate in humans (1 John. 4:19). No one chooses God, but is chosen by Him (John 15:16). However, reciprocal affection of a person loved by God is expected. When he or she is arrested by the love of the Father, the person has the pleasurable choice to delight in Him and have his or her desires centered on and shaped by Him (Ps. 37:4; Rom. 12:2).
How does a person’s heart form with God’s? It is indeed a glorious activity worth investigating. The totality of Scripture provides ample evidence that it is a dynamic partnership between God and humans. For instance, Romans 12:1-2 explains that it is the mercies initiated by God culminating in His work through Jesus (Rom. 1-11) that is the basis for transforming a person’s heart after God’s. This transformation takes place as people offer themselves back to God and continually press into His will (12:1-2). In explaining Scripture, many contemporaries have written significant contributions to our understanding. A few authors worth reading are Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Donald Whitney. For our purposes, however, we will apply truth from the examples of Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David. This article examines Saul’s heart toward God, while the following will explore David’s.
The royal narrative of Samuel contrasts the hearts of Israel’s first two kings. The Lord gave King Saul numerous reasons to fall in love with Him (1 Sam. 19:20; 10:8; 10:26; 11:6-8; 11:14-15, etc). However, the continuing account reveals that Saul does not reciprocate and give his heart to God. The battle at Geba between Israel and the Philistines raged against King Saul and his army (1 Sam. 13:3-14). Soldiers hid and deserted while the Prophet Samuel was tardy to offer the sacrifice on behalf of Saul and the army. Saul tried to satisfy God and keep Him on his team by “fixing” the situation. He knew Samuel was coming to offer the sacrifice, but Samuel was late. Saul rushed to please the Lord by offering the sacrifice himself. However, trying to appease God by disobeying Him (Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel, see 13:11) betrays Saul’s pragmatic view of God as a tool for success rather than One to be loved, worshipped and, obeyed. Neglecting to know the Father’s heart resulted in Saul’s inability to trust God’s love to provide victory.
Saul is caught in a legalistic trap very familiar to many religious people. Religious folks know about God. They have heard of, or personally experienced His powerful and merciful acts. They want God on their side. They will do everything they know to win Him over. They try to do God’s will their way and end up bribing and manipulating the King of the World. These people elevate themselves to the status of a god while lowering the Lord God Almighty to the rank of servant. What an abomination!
What about you and me? Do we perceive ourselves as possessing high status so God is obligated to serve us? Do we attempt to use God as a tool – as a servant – to save us from our sins, take us to Heaven, and make our earthly lives as successful, comfortable, and safe as possible?
The Father gave all authority to One – His risen Son (Matt. 28:18)! All will bow down to Him (Phil. 2:9-11)!
Let us learn from Saul’s negative example, repent where necessary, and keep growing into the women and men of God’s own heart!