We’ve been in 1 Samuel as a church. This week we saw that perfection was indeed required.
The mission was given, and Saul didn’t do it all. He didn’t kill the king, Agag. And so ch. 15 ended with old, feeble Samuel hacking away and completing the mission, doing what Saul didn’t. And Saul was rejected as king.
“Put yourself in Saul’s shoes.” Easy for me to take that thought and go completely sideways with it.
Something along these lines: “Doesn’t God require more of you than you are doing? Shouldn’t you be better than you are? God doesn’t want your fellowship, he wants your obedient action. Put yourself in Saul’s shoes – are you really, really, really paying attention to Yahweh your God? How are you doing with the 10 commandments? How are you doing with the Sermon on the Mount? Don’t you know that God doesn’t just desire perfection – he demands it! Take a good look at Agag, hacked to pieces, blood spattered on the ground.”
And I’m tempted to take another sideways step as I look at my life. Because I don’t see perfection in my behavior. Not even close. So here’s guilt. Or here’s blameshifting. And certainly renewed effort. Ending in continued failure, if I’m honest. But I need to be better. So honesty goes out the window. And I act as perfect as possible. Because if true holiness isn’t visible in my behavior, then putting on a show will have to do.
Dangerous misinterpretation, to put ourselves in Saul’s shoes. Why?
Because Saul was the first king of Israel. The first king of God’s people. Who he points to is the King. What he was to live up to was the office of the King. That’s the King of Israel. The King of Kings. We know him as Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ, you see, was utterly perfect.
Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient.
Jesus Christ so perfectly followed the Father’s will that he said that every single thing he did was from the Father. That God spoke perfectly through him, by who he was, what he did. That level of perfection to the mission.
There’s one and only one way for me to get that kind of perfection.
It is not through some sort of Holy Spirit anointing toward enabled behavior. Saul had an anointing. It is not by making myself the center, the hero, even with powerful help.
Perfection’s required… how can we get it?
It is through identification with the one who did perfection.
It is through union with the one who obeyed to the final dot, the final iota.
This union, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, is embodied in the new birth, is spoken of in the new covenant. The blood and body of the King, for us. His righteousness, ours. God looks at us… and sees the perfect obedience of this King… forever.
Instead of us being the hero… we have to be taken out… that we might live only through and in Jesus.
Thus Colossians 3:3: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
And this brings us back to Saul.
Because what God desired was a humble heart, a broken heart, a heart that followed God’s ways. Following God’s ways means realizing that perfection would be God’s, that perfection would come from God. That’s the sin that God rejects Saul for… not his imperfection, but his arrogance, his presumption, his lack of humble dependence (see 15:23).
Humility of heart, the kind that forsakes self and trusts in Christ, will lead to great usefulness, fruit that truly exalts the one who is doing the work (our God), and a life of wondrous joy.
So perfection really is required. The perfection of Jesus Christ, our King. Thankfully, He’s entirely perfect. And our work is to keep our eyes on him and our faith in him… and not on ourselves.
He’s the hero. Now and forever. May we humbly trust our Lord and Savior… our perfect King.