Daily Devotionals

June 17th, 2023

Read: 1 Samuel 28:15-19 NRSV

 Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’ Saul answered, ‘I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; so I have summoned you to tell me what I should do.’ Samuel said, ‘Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you just as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbour David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.’

Saul is desperate for help. His enemies are gathering at his doorstep and he no longer has the protection of the LORD in battle. Samuel, who used to speak on God’s behalf, is dead. David is growing more popular. 

So, Saul seeks counsel from a medium, an act forbidden by God. He has the diviner summon Samuel to ask for advice, and he is met with the same response he has already received: “Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you today.” 

Saul sinned by going to the medium. But why did he feel the need to do that? Because of his sin of disobeying God and not destroying Amalek. Why did he need to destroy Amalek? Because Amalek attempted to destroy the Israelites wandering the wilderness with Moses. Why were they wandering? Because the Israelites rejected God. And so on and so on.

Sin can only lead to more sin, and the Israelites were trapped in it. Only the true savior could break the cycle of violence and idolatry. Even a righteous man like David was still stuck in the pattern of sin, but one of his descendants was born perfect: fully man and fully God. Jesus fulfilled the covenant of God and Israel and established a new covenant with himself as representative of all people. He broke the power of Hell and generational sin. Now we can throw ourselves on the mercy of Jesus and ask for a renewal of that covenant. Hell is not a foregone conclusion when we inevitably fall short. Jesus offers us salvation.

Hell is a choice.