1 Samuel 31, 1 Corinthians 2

Misplaced Hope.

1 Samuel 31, 1 Corinthians 2

 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. – 1 Samuel 31:7 ESV

King Saul was dead. Mortally wounded in battle with the Philistines, he ended up taking his own life rather than allow himself to be taken captive alive and be subjected to a slow and humiliating death at the hands of his enemies. When news of Saul’s death and that of his son, Jonathan, made it into the camp of the remaining Israelites, they panicked. They lost all hope. Their king was dead and so was his likely successor. In fact, all of Saul’s sons had been killed in battle, so their was no heir to the throne. So all the Israelites living east of the Jordan abandoned their homes and cities, leaving them to be captured and occupied by the Philistines. They had placed their hope for the future in an earthly king and now found themselves leaderless and hopeless. Rather than trust God, they had decided to invest their loyalty and allegiance in a man. In their minds, it had all made sense. When they had demanded that Samuel, the prophet of God, give them a king just like all the other nations, it had seemed like such a logical and wise decision. Samuel was getting old and his sons were wicked. So it made sense that they needed a leader, and when they looked around, all the other great nations had kings. So they went with the worldly wisdom of the day and demanded a king for themselves. Now the body of their king hung lifeless and headless on the wall of a Philistine city, and they were running for their lives.

What does this passage reveal about God?

This was not God’s preferred plan for their lives. He had wanted to bless them and make them successful. He had wanted to give them victory over their enemies. They were to have been the most powerful people in the land, feared by their enemies and known for the strength of their God. But now the Philistines were worshiping the power of their own gods for having given them victory over the Israelites. Rather than fear the Israelites, they saw them as weak and powerless. And they viewed the God of Israel as inferior and weak, incapable of rescuing His own people from destruction and defeat. Conventional wisdom would have supported this view. From a human perspective it would have appeared that the gods of the Philistines were more powerful than the God of the Israelites. But the wisdom of this world can’t comprehend the ways of God. The Philistines were gloating over their victory. The Israelites were running as a result of their defeat. But God was going to use this bleak moment in their history as yet another lesson and as a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

Worldly wisdom and godly wisdom are two different things. Men tend to believe their wisdom is superior and fully capable of providing them with the answers they seek and the direction they need for success in this world. Relying on human wisdom is a dangerous mistake. It may sound logical and make all the sense in the world, but Paul would remind us that placing our faith in the wisdom of this world rather than in the power of God will always lead to a less-than-perfect outcome. The people of Israel learned that lesson. So did Saul. Paul knew that the wisdom and rulers of this age “are doomed to pass away” (1 Corinthians 2:6 ESV). They come and they go, but God remains. And His wisdom is hidden, unavailable to men unless He chooses to reveal it to them. The wisest men of Jesus’ day were totally incapable of recognizing who He was and unable to understand the truth of what He was offering them. Paul said, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8 ESV). Instead, they relied on their own wisdom and determined that the best plan was to put Jesus to death. Human wisdom resulted in their decision to have Jesus crucified. It made logical sense to them. But they were blind to the reality of what they were doing. They were incapable of understanding the will and the thoughts of God, so they relied on human reason alone.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I have been given the ability to understand the mind of God because He has given me His Spirit. “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12 ESV). God has equipped me with the capacity to comprehend His will and His ways. I am not left to rely on human wisdom or the wisdom of this age. I have access to a greater source of wisdom that can not only direct me, but protect me from placing my trust and hope in the wrong things. Paul reminds me, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV). I have the Spirit of God living within me. I have no excuse for not understanding God’s will. I have no reason for refusing to trust God and place my hope in Him. But sadly, I still do. Even with the Spirit of God living within me, I can still find myself relying on human wisdom. I can still easily justify my own actions and determine that my ways make more sense than God’s ways. But I have no justification for relying on anything other than God. I have them mind of Christ. I am indwelt by the Spirit of God. I have access to the Word of God. I don’t have to rely on faulty human wisdom. With the help of the Spirit of God, I can comprehend the thoughts of God and live with my hope firmly placed on Him.

Father, I want to live with my trust in You, not in me. I want to live according to Your wisdom and not my own. Show me how to become increasingly more dependent on Your wisdom. Let me seek it through Your Word. Make it clear through the power and presence of Your Spirit. May I continue to learn to rely on You and place my hope and trust in You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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