1 Samuel 13 & Romans 11

1 Samuel 13

    Saul lived for one year and then became king, and when he had reigned for two years over Israel, Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent. Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

    And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

    He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.

    And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual; another company turned toward Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

    Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.” But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

(1 Samuel 13 ESV)

Romans 11

    I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

    What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,

    “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
        eyes that would not see
        and ears that would not hear,
    down to this very day.”
    
        And David says,

    “Let their table become a snare and a trap,
        a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
    let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
        and bend their backs forever.”
    
        So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

    Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

    But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

    Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

    “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
        he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
    “and this will be my covenant with them
        when I take away their sins.”
    
        As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
        or who has been his counselor?”
    “Or who has given a gift to him
        that he might be repaid?”
    
        For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11 ESV)

Something to Consider

Romans 11: The apostle concludes the theological portion of his letter (Romans 1-11) by falling on his knees and worshipping through this great doxology found at the end of this chapter. True understanding of God will always lead to a heart of worship. There can be no doxology without theology and should never be theology without doxology. Do we find ourselves alongside of Paul in praise and worship at the close of this chapter or have we gotten lost along the way?

Have we assumed that we can trace out God’s plans? Have we assumed that we have a full understanding of how God works? Have we attempted to offer advice on how God should carry out His plan and purposes? Have we assumed that God is obligated to us in any way? Have we assumed that we are entitled to anything from Him? God’s wisdom and ways are far beyond our human understanding. We must praise Him for what we've come to understand and trust Him with everything we don’t. 

Many people find themselves discouraged with the complexity of things found in chapters 9-11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans that are seemingly impossible to completely comprehend. Many others seem to feel that there is little to gain from such a study and seemingly ask, “What’s the point in trying to understand these chapters anyway? How does a understanding of these chapters concern me in my daily life as a Christian?” Here are two points worth making:    

  1. Understanding these chapters gives us an assurance in the absolute certainty of God’s faithfulness, plan and purposes. An understanding of these chapters ought to lead to an unexplainable comfort for us as a Christian. We are one of God’s chosen people and a chosen part of God’s sovereign plan of redemption. Don’t we want this kind of comfort and certainty? Is that kind of assurance not tremendously helpful to our lives here as Christians? 
  2. Understanding these chapters leads us into a sense of great humility and a disposition of awe, wonder and worship at the greatness and glory of our amazing God. Is this not the life-blood of what it means to be a Christian in the first place? An understanding of these three chapters ought to rightly lead us to cry out with the apostle in his doxology at the end of chapter eleven.

All things come from God, all things come through God and all things are done for the ultimate glory of God. Praise Him for our humble place in His sovereign plan to redeem the entire world through His own amazing grace and incredible mercy which was powerfully displayed on the cross of Christ bringing salvation to those who believe - to Israel first and then to the Gentile. Amen.