Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Father/Son Relationship with God

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Study 8 --- 1 Samuel 9:1-10:16

9:1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul's father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.

5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” . . .

27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”


One of the fine traits we see in Saul is his obedience, respect, and care for his eartly father in verses 3- 5. Honoring father and mother is commanded by the Lord, and it is meant to point us to the higher relationship we have with God as our heavenly father.

As the king of Israel, Saul was to be God’s son in a special sense. Of the relationship between the king and the Lord in Israel, we read: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (2 Sam. 7:14). Just as Israel was considered God’s son (“Israel is my firstborn son” Ex. 4:22), so the king as the embodiment of Israel, was also known as God’s son.

In fact, we can push the idea of the father-son relationship back even further to include the whole human race, for Adam was considered God’s son according to Luke 3:38: “the son of Adam, the son of God.” All human beings were created to be sons of God and vice-regents in service to the great king over heaven and earth.

But how did Saul fare in this higher relationship to the Lord as his father? And, how do we measure his success or failure in this relationship to God as his father?

What we learn in the life of Saul is that our relationship to the heavenly Father begins, continues, and is measured by our response to his word. In verse 27 the word of God was made known to Saul, and Saul’s response to that word would determine his relationship with the Lord as his father.

From the beginning with Saul, we see problems in his relationship to the Lord through his word. Even as we read the instructions the Father gave to Saul in chapter 10, we are not sure Saul has carried them out. It appears in 10:5 and 7 that Saul was commanded to take military action against the Philistine garrison in Gibeath, but failed to do so (cf. Judges 9:33). This failure to carry out the Lord’s command appears to come out in his less than forthright answer to his uncle in 10:14-16. It seems Saul knows he has not carried out the implicit command of the Lord and so is reticent in telling his uncle about the “matter (or word) of the kingdom.”

Saul’s failure to obey the word of God his father, as well as Adam’s failure, and our own failure, shows us our need of Jesus Christ, God’s true Son. Jesus could say of himself, “I always do the things that please my Father,” and “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 8:29, 17:4).

Although the law convicts us all as law breakers, who are no longer worthy to be called God’s sons (see Luke 15:19 where the prodigal says, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”), through faith in Jesus Christ we may become sons of God once again. Though law keeping is no longer a route to a father/son relationship with God, the new way of faith in God’s one and only Son is the way. Jesus is the way to a father/son relationship with God (John 1:12: But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God).

Just like Saul, the word of the kingdom has come to us in our baptism and the word of the gospel. In that word we are promised the washing away of our sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and adoption into Christ’s family as sons of the heavenly Father. Only let us learn to trust in the goodness of our Father in heaven, and honor him by receiving and keeping his word.

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