Today’s Reading: 1 Sam 28:1–29:11, 1 Pet 2:13–17, Ps 130:1–131:3
Today’s Theme: Submit to Authority
Today’s theme is about submission to authority, that is to both God’s authority as the sovereign King, and to human authorities. God calls us to be submissive to the commands of His word for the sake of His glory, for our joy and the flourishing of all people.
In our individualistic culture, the idea and teaching of submission has fallen on hard times, to the self destruction of society and those who throw off restraint.
1 Samuel 28:1–29:11
Seeking without submission
And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 1 Samuel 28:6 (ESV)
Saul has demonstrated in the narrative, that he is not submissive to the Lord. Anything he does that might seem good, is done as a knee jerk expression of dead religion, like getting rid of all mediums when Samuel died.
The lesson is simple; if we do not submit to God from the heart or if we play the game of religion, we cannot expect God to respond to our requests.
If we submit to God, we can be sure that we will have the request we make of Him, according to His will, as John tells us in 1 John 5:15 “And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
A miracle from God
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” 1 Samuel 28:12 (ESV)
This was a shock to the medium who was used to calling up demons that impersonate the dead, to deceive and lead astray those seeking answers.
This time it was different, there is no record that the woman did anything and her shock, coupled with the affirmation of the text which says “…saw Samuel”, not ‘saw the spirit’ etc, point to the fact that God had worked a one off miracle and allowed the spirit of Samuel to appear, which the medium was not expecting.
We see God perform this same miracle in various places in the new testament, e.g. we see Moses and Elijah appear and talk to Jesus in Mark 9:4 and the record of Saints rising from death at the resurrection, in Matthew 27:52.
When God moves supernaturally, the enemy is often left shocked and on the back foot like when Jesus rose from the dead… the devil never saw that coming. 1 Corinthians 2:8.
Saul did not submit to God and now he will hear the judgement of God, declared by the prophet Samuel who at this point of the narrative, though dead, is very much alive in a place called Abraham’s Bosom (paradise), awaiting release from captivity by the Messiah.
1 Peter 2:13–17
Submit to human authorities
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 1 Peter 2:13 (ESV)
We are not only called to submit spiritually to God, we are called to submit to the government, the police, the law of the land and any institution like a school or business that we are a part of.
Earlier we read that David submitted himself to the Philistine leaders, he was not rebellious, they were the governing authority in the land so he submitted to them.
As Christians we must not behave like rebels or hermits. As Peter encourages us, for the Lord’s sake we should be submissive to authorities.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 1 Peter 2:15 (ESV)
God’s will is not some great mystery. God’s essential will is found in the pages of the bible and there are places like this verse, where it is said so clearly that there can be no room for confusion.
In this case, God’s will is that we do good publicly, by both submitting to authorities and contributing to society.
We are not called to be monks, hiding ourselves from the world around us in our own little “Christian Ghettos”, we must engage the culture and city that we have been called to be a witness in, by doing good and praying for the city as we read in Jeremiah 29:7.
Here is a short list of other areas in the New Testament where we can find God’s explicit will laid out for us:
- Our salvation, in 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4
- Sanctification and sexual purity, in 1 Thessalonians 4:3
- Salvation and protection for children, Matthew 18:14
- To give thanks to God in all circumstances, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Of course there are many other areas where the will of God is seen in the bible’s teachings and commands. God’s will is revealed throughout the bible.
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16 (ESV)
Jesus has set us free, we should use our new found freedom to joyfully serve God, not ourselves.
Wait for the Lord
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5–6 (ESV)
Our soul should wait on God, Saul did not wait on God and in his rebellion entered into witchcraft. We need to patiently, submissively, yet expectantly, wait for God to come through for us according to His word.
Quiet your soul
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2 (ESV)
Life can be so busy, sometimes we need to stop and be quiet so that fear and anxiety do not overwhelm us, and so that we can hear God.
It is a forgotten, but necessary and useful Christian discipline, to sit in stillness and silence before God’s word, to hear God speak.
Find time to be still today, as you submit to the leading of God the Holy Spirit.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 1 Peter 2