Saul really messed up this time! He didn’t listen to God! He heard what he wanted to hear. Boy did that speak to me! I can’t say that I’ve ever had such an intentional message from the LORD such as Saul was given by Samuel. But when it comes to instructions from an authority figure, I have been known to try to figure out a better way.
Saul didn’t follow God’s instructions to the letter. He made a judgment that keeping the good stuff and sacrificing it would be a good idea. In his head, it sounded good. His army was happy to have some spoils of war, too. But that is NOT what God had said to do.
Don’t we all long for a conversation with God like Samuel had that night? To hear a voice audibly calling our name! Would we be like Samuel and think it was someone else, for us our spouse, the neighbor, or the television? We need to be listening. We need to be still.
I loved what Eli told Samuel after he realized what Samuel was hearing was the voice of the LORD himself. Then Samuel knew exactly what to say. “Speak, your servant is listening.” What a beautiful line we should all remember for when God calls out to us next time.
God sees it all. The good and the bad. In the case of our reading today, we learn of a man named Achan. Surely, his claim to fame in this story is nothing to be proud of. Did he seriously think he could do what the Lord had forbidden and be okay? His belief in God must have been a little shaky. His trust was in his own abilities, and his desires for wealth or prestige must have totally clouded his good sense.
Now, it’s easy for us to point fingers at Achan, isn’t it? We’re probably wondering how he could have done such a thing. But how often have we stretched the truth, broken a commandment, or dishonored God in some way only to try and keep our sins hidden from view. Maybe those around us are oblivious, but the one who counts is God. He sees it all.
Did you peek at Chapter 6 because you wanted to see how this story ended? I did. I was sure something juicy was going to happen next. Why in the world did these short verses show up to begin the transition of our story? I may have been even more surprised by the angel’s response when asked if he was friend or foe? “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”
I suppose that we’re not necessarily supposed to get chummy with our angel of protection. Joshua clearly understood that this situation necessitated a response of great respect. “At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence.” I can picture this so vividly in my mind, can’t you?
Our reading starts with a bit of a glimpse of what is happening in the area to those hearing about God’s mighty act involving the Jordan River crossing. That fear will have a bit of time to percolate and resonate in their hearts. We might think of the old saying, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” The anticipation of attack must have been quite something. Would they let fear move them forward or keep them stuck. We can find ourselves dealing with fear in much the same way.
But the main focus of our reading today focuses on re-establishing the covenant between God and his people. We learn that nobody has been circumcised since leaving Egypt. We know from Genesis 17:12, “From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased.” For some reason, this was God’s desire for his people.