Inviting Others to SinDavid Pemberton
On the last day of summer camp, and with parents arriving, I was to dismiss the campers, by cabin, to their respective seats across camp at the outdoor assembly. Tired of the routine of dismissing each cabin one-by-one, I decided to let the campers go at once and dismissed the whole group. Chaos occurred as campers ran to their seats, stopping along the way to hug their parents. Confused counselors ran after their respective campers, trying to corral them to sit together at assembly. Much like Saul in today’s passage, I made a personal leadership decision that led to the detriment of the entire group.
- When has a personal leadership decision of yours led others to confusion and, maybe, to detriment?
Read the Word
1 Samuel 14:24-35 (ESV)
24 And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. 25 Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. 26 And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright. 28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint. 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.”
31 They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very faint. 32 The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, “Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a great stone to me here.” 34 And Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Let every man bring his ox or his sheep and slaughter them here and eat, and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night and they slaughtered them there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.
- In verse 24, what oath did Saul give to the army? For what reason did he give it?
- What did Jonathan find troubling about Saul’s oath (vss. 29-30)?
- In verses 32-33, how did the army respond after obeying Saul’s oath?
- For what reason did Saul build his first altar (vss. 33-35)?
- How does your current leadership of others reflect a commitment to the Lord and his ways? In what ways does it not? What would be different if it did?
Respond to God
When we lead others with our personal gain in mind, it often results in foolish direction and detriment. While we do not make others sin, our leadership invites others’ disobedience to the Lord when it is about us and not him. When we are tempted to lead our families, co-workers, employees, and ministry partners for our own glory, it is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on our commitment to God, or lack thereof. Have we been “building altars” to the Lord by seeking his guidance, knowing his Word, and understanding what leadership direction is for his gain? Or is this our “first altar” to build, realizing we have led foolishly and lack a commitment to God and his ways?
- Ask God to reveal the ways you are leading for your own personal gain.
- Seek his forgiveness for what he reveals to you.