Devotional Thoughts for Today
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat, is worth over four billion dollars—and he’s only 28! Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, became a billionaire at age 23! There’s a growing church in my city that was planted in 2014 by the lead pastor, and he was only 18 years old at the time! There’s something about young success that inspires us, and maybe even makes us a little bit jealous (just maybe).
Our passage today describes an achievement that perhaps overshadows all of the above in regards to early success: “Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king….” Imagine becoming the king of a nation at the age of 21! In terms of worldly success, status, and influence, Zedekiah had it all, and he reached it quick. But our passage concludes like this: “And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord….”
In the Kingdom of God, early success—such as the above—means almost nothing. As a matter of fact, late success doesn’t mean that much either. There’s only one thing that really matters in the Kingdom of God: Did you, or did you not, live a life of obedience to the Lord?
I don’t know about you, but many years from now, I don’t want to look back on my life and realize that out of all the things I’ve invested my time and energy into, I haven’t done the most important thing: to obey God. But on the other hand, if I spend each day trying to walk in obedience to Him, I am confident that no matter what else happens, in the end I will be content with the way I’ve lived.
While we can certainly appreciate and applaud certain kinds of success, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that the world’s version of success equals true, eternal success. Instead, let us strive to live each day in obedience to God.
Prayer: Lord, protect our hearts from comparison and jealousy. Instead, may we find joy and fulfillment in the one thing that really matters: obeying You. Fill our minds with Your Word this morning, fill our hearts with Your love, and guide our hands and feet to do that which is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 7
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Samuel 15:19-23: Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
Questions to Consider
- In this passage, what did Saul do that was considered so displeasing to the Lord? Is this surprising to you?
- Why does God ultimately reject Saul?
- What does this passage tell us about the kind of God that we serve?
- After a victorious battle against the Amalekites, Samuel rebukes Saul because although God had given Saul clear instructions to destroy everything, Saul had saved some of the best sheep and oxen to make sacrifices to God. What may have surprised you is that Saul’s intentions seem to be good. After all, he saved the sheep and oxen in order to worship God! Sometimes, we disobey God in doing what we think are good things; but the lesson here is that “doing what seems good to us” and “obeying God” aren’t always one and the same.
- God ultimately rejects Saul because Saul refuses to walk in obedience to God. In many aspects, Saul was king material: he was tall, handsome, well-liked, and a brilliant military strategist/warrior. But for all the good qualities Saul had, he was missing the most crucial one: a heart of obedience to God. For this reason Saul was rejected.
- This passage tells us something very interesting and important about our God. In Exodus and Leviticus, God was the one who gave His people a detailed set of instructions about how to offer sacrifices to Him. And so when we read only that portion, it’s possible to think that God’s primary interest was to be on the receiving end of these types of ceremonial rituals. But here, and in many other places, Scripture tells us that God is more delighted in the obedience of His people.
There’s a worship song that goes like this:
May the words of my mouth
And the thoughts of my heart
Bless Your Name, bless Your Name, Jesus.
And the deeds of my day
And the truth in my way
Speak of You, speak of You, Jesus.
Let’s make that our prayer this evening as we remind ourselves of the value of living a life of obedience to Him.