Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Relational Theology of Samuel and King David - Part 1

I wanted to entitle this blog as, "What they don't preach about Samuel and David" because it is true. Many events in the lives of these two people who live "after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22)" cannot be properly interpreted unless a Bible student/teacher approaches these situations from a Relational Theology perspective.

Let me whet your appetite by pointing out several in outline form. I will develop and justify each point later from a relational perspective.

  1. Hannah did not get to bear Samuel UNTIL she prayed for it. (1 Samuel 1:10-20). God many times just responds. He does nothing until we ask (James 4:2)
  2. Praying does not have to be aloud for God to answer (1 Samuel 1:13). God ALWAYS looks at the heart.
  3. One can experience answered prayer even BEFORE it is actually answered (v. 18)
  4. God entertains vows (v.11) but one has to make sure to fulfill it (v.21 - 28;)cf. Ecclesiastes 5:1-6)
  5. Though God is not evil, He may cause "evil" things to happen or may cause great harm. These are normally called "judgments" by classical theology. In relational theology, however, God the Great Lover, has the prerogative and does things in Love and with the objective of courting the love and attention of His people. (1 Samuel 2:6,7) Remember, God is a Jealous God -- Classical theology refuses to admit this but Jealousy is ONE of His attributes.
  6. Just because a man is called of God or is serving God does not mean he has a good family (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
  7. Much of scripture talks about the God's curse on the generations that follow a father's sin. It is also possible for a father to be cursed because of the sins of his family or offspring (1 Samuel 2:27-36), this despite the father's feeble attempts to correct them (1 Samuel 2:22-25; 1 Samuel 3:13). Fathers! Beware of how you raise, or how effective you raise, your children!!!
  8. The severity of God's curse is correlated not so much to how hurt He is but more with how much He has been dishonored by people's behavior (1 Samuel 2:30-24).
  9. God may change his mind about His promise based on our behavior (1 Samuel 2:30).
  10. God does make irrevocable unconditional promises but this is more the exception than the rule in the way He has chosen to deal with man.(1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Samuel 3:12-14).
  11. God may call or communicate with someone, even if he does NOT YET know God personally (1 Samuel 3:7)
  12. "Fall from grace" is a fact of life in our relationship with God. The fall is permanent. Calvinists are wrong about unconditional security. Arminians are also wrong about restoration from a fall from grace.(1 Samuel 3:14; cf: Hebrews 6:4-8)
  13. The presence of God has no benefit to those who are not in right relationship with Him (1 Samuel 4)
  14. The presence of God can become a curse to people who do not know Him personally. (1 Samuel 5)
  15. In relational theology, even the unsaved may appease God to lift His temporal curse. It is only required that they make the right offering to the Right God. (1 Samuel 6)
  16. God sometimes reveals His responses through human-designated signs (1 Samuel 6:9-12). Recall Gideon's confirmation of his calling via the fleece (Judges 6:36-40).
  17. God may strike His Own people if they violate the sacredness of His presence, or if they do not esteem proper worship (1 Samuel 6:19).
  18. God's heart is always touched by true repentance and He responds tangibly in kind, always specific to the plea (1 Samuel 7:3-6,8-14). God redeems from the curse, He recovers territories lost to the previous curse (1 Samuel 7:14). Just don't forget that this WAS God's curse.
  19. (Take 2): Just because a man is called of God or is serving God does not mean he has a good family (1 Samuel 7:15-8:5)
  20. Man's sin can change the course of history, or make long arduous detours instead of a straight path towards God's will (1 Samuel 8:5ff)
  21. Rejecting God's agent is rejecting God (1 Samuel 8:5-8). Of course, the question of how to identify God's agent(s) is entirely another issue. Samuel, in this case, was not elected by a church board nor elected by a college of cardinals nor ordained by a denomination.
  22. Refusing to deal with God directly is the same as avoiding God (1 Samuel 8:7).
  23. God many times gives in to our own way or choices. Sometimes He warns us of the consequences (v.18) but will allow us to make the final choice nevertheless. (1 Samuel 8:7-9, 22) This reinforces that He is a relational God and RARELY, IF EVER exercises absolute sovereignty upon man's Free Will, unless requested through prayer. Sometimes He even gives in to our stubbornness (v. 19-22)
  24. This is ONE GOOD CASE to demonstrate that our relational God is omnicompetent or flexible enough to improve on something that is AGAINST His will, just because He loves His people. Note that God not only condones the action (or gives in, God forbid, based on the classicist!) but even choses the kings! He picked Saul, He chose David, but remember, this is NOT His will!!! Classical theology cannot explain this action without making excuses.
  25. Divine appointment is a biblical concept (1 Samuel 9:15-17) However, one has to be careful that this is oftentimes an exception and not a rule. God rarely intervenes in human affairs unless man requests Him to. What God did for Saul, he did not exactly do for ALL the other Jewish people. The other reason for Divine intervention in human affairs is that God has already promised or pre-ordained something and simply ensure that it comes to pass. Again, this is the exception and not the rule. When God foreordains or predestines, He makes an explicit declaration. What he has not declared (like how many grams of toothpaste will I use and what time I will brush my teeth) is likewise NOT pre-ordained.
  26. Many times in the lives of God's people, we seem to be forced in a certain direction often outside of our comfort zone, like Saul's donkeys went missing and he was forced to travel to find it. To him it simply looked like a responsibility as the son of Kish. From a Divine perspective, however, God has actually arranged things to prepare him for a Divine appointment (appointment has double meaning here!) (1 Samuel 9). Do your responsibility, and you actually do God's will.
  27. When God's prophet validates his prophecy, he declares explicit signs which will happen 100% exactly as EXPLICITLY declared (1 Samuel 10:2-7, 9). Compare this to Jeane Dixon who is less than 40% accurate, or the vague revelations of Fatima or Garabandal, both of which have varying eyewitness accounts. In fact, the Lady of Fatima simply mimicked what was already written in the Bible, some of them by uttered by Christ Himself. Fatima was simply clever enough to insert the Rosary. Christ did not even handle one. Fatima's prophecies (because she had a time frame) have controversial fulfillments (not convincing).
  28. Half-truths are not always lies nor deception. They could be an exercise of wisdom or discretion. (1 Samuel 10:14-16). The final determinant of whether it is sin or not is the condition of the person's heart or motive. Of course, in Saul's case, the truth was something to be revealed completely at a later time. The present was simply unwise or not prudent. The revelation of truth ALWAYS has a right timing. Otherwise, one may just be throwing pearls to swine and risk being a fool himself.
  29. When God reprimands us for sin (1 Samuel 10:17-19). , it is always on the basis of how we have affected our relationship with Him. We can never tell God, "It's nothing personal" because God takes everything as personal. In Israel's case, it was even a sin that they have not yet even physically committed although they were far beyond thinking about it --- they have actually made the decision to have a king and that decision is what God is addressing.
  30. In the theocracy, majority does not rule since God is the majority. Therefore, in the Kingdom of God, when we choose leaders we pray more and vote less (1 Samuel 10:22)
  31. When God makes His choice, no one else is better for that given time and context (1Samuel 10:24).
  32. All earthly leaders, including kings are to be subject to certain rules. No one is above the law (1 Samuel 10:25). Faithgulness and success will eventually be determined by creative, progressive and productive work WITHIN the law.
  33. When God makes His choice, He provides helpers and people who have the heart to follow the leader (1 Samuel 10:26)
  34. When God makes His choice, Satan makes his target (1 Samuel 10:27)
  35. God expects His choice to "hit the ground running" (1 Samuel 11)
  36. When we respond faithfully to God's opportunities, God provides wisdom and the strategy to motivate others to follow our lead (1 Samuel 11:6-8).
  37. When we respond faithfully to God's opportunities, God provides the wisdom, the strategy, strength and energy to win the battle (1 Samuel 11:11).
  38. When we respond faithfully, God confirms His decision (1 Samuel 11:12-15) and honors His faithful servants.
  39. When we recognize that the battle is the Lord's, we make the right decisions even in the "small issues" (1 Samuel 11:13) and it further confirms God's choice for us to lead the charge.
  40. A kingdom child is individually accountable BOTH to God and man (1 Samuel 12:1-6). He is NEVER judged based on his children's behavior or the outcome of their lives. Samuel's children were the only dark record of his life BUT it was never taken against him.
  41. Our God is a God of redemption and a God of second chances. Samuel enumerates events which prove this and further confirms the principle as it applies to their present circumstances (1 Samuel 12:6ff)
  42. ...
  43. God's will (the way we normally understand it) is different from God's guidance and direction. (I Samuel 23:1-14). God's will is what He desires to happen (which may be temporarily thwarted as we have already discussed so even if He picks the right person at the right time, that person may fail and not follow through and miss out on the blessing) while God's guidance is a basis for man making the right decisions or choices (God could be indifferent to man's choice. David could have stayed and be captured and miss out on the better or best God-given option.)
  44. Just because someone says, "The Lord Bless You" does not really mean much when it comes from the wrong heart (1 Samuel 23:21)

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