Why is it So Hard to Humble Ourselves?

Why is it So Hard to Humble Ourselves?

1 Samuel 15

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

DATE: 23 Nov, 2008 AM                                                                                                                                                                                               

PLACE: BBC Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland



I.        Introduction (1Peter 5:6)


A.      I hope, as we have studied this entire year about humbling ourselves, that you have discovered just how HARD that command is

B.      I know people who are religious, and pray, and do good things, but when push comes to shove, they have a hard time saying “I’m sorrow” “Please forgive me” and “I was wrong!”

C.      This world is absolutely FULL of people who have one HUGE besetting sin, that outshines almost all others – the sin of stubbornness and rebellion.

D.      These are not small sins either.

E.       The whole Bible is about bringing the human heart down from its throne, so Jesus can save it and restore it to the design that He had for it from the beginning.

F.       But most of the world lives and dies away from God, and separated from His blessing simply because we find it hard to “come down”!

G.      Let’s take a look at a famous kin, who also found it hard to humble himself, and maybe his reasons are YOUR same reasons.

H.      By looking at them, maybe the Lord will soften your heart, and you will see the need more than ever to humble yourself under the mighty arm of God


II.      Background (1Samuel 15:1-12)


A.      Israel has its first king – Saul


1.       Handsome young man

2.       The people were enthralled, delighted

3.       They could now hold their heads up high because they had a king just like every other kingdom around


B.      It was time to judge the nearby nation of Amalek (1Sam 15:1-3)


1.       Being King, or Dad or Boss has its responsibilities, and Saul had his first appointment on his calendar – destroy the enemy nation of the Amalekites

2.       Like going after a criminal that had eluded justice

3.       Just before they came to Mount Sinai, the Amalekites fell upon the rear of them, and smote the feeble, and faint, and weary, see Ex 17:8 De 25:17-19

4.       Israel had many enemies


a.       The Midianites

b.       The Philistines

c.        The Amalekites


5.       The people of Amalek had fought Israel when they had fled Egypt, and had viciously attacked them – like a mugger who ends up murdering

6.       They needed to be judged


C.      God carefully and clearly instructs king Saul to UTTERLY destroy the entire nation of the Amalekites (1Sam 15:3)


1.       These people only hated the Jews and had a culture that sought only to kill them – taught their children to hate the Jews - to want to kill them

2.       Utterly means completely – leaving nothing behind


a.       Destroy the cities

b.       Destroy the crops

c.        Destroy the cattle

d.       AND destroy the people, young and old, men and women


3.       The word is repeated over and over

4.       No ambiguity about God’s command. There is no confusion about the Ten Commandments either

5.       This was not a human desire – it was God’s will

6.       This was not unusual


a.       God had commanded Israel to utterly destroy the original inhabitants of Canaan

b.       And He Himself had utterly destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah


D.      BUT… king Saul thought he knew better (1Sam 15:4-12)


1.       Kept alive the king of the Amalekites – Agag.


a.       His descendants would later almost wipe out Israel in the book of Esther (Haman the AGAG-ite).

b.       Probably as a prize possession to show off in chains to all the visiting dignitaries to show how powerful he was!


2.       Kept alive all the GOOD cattle, and the good gold and silver, and possessions

3.       Saul did not completely obey the Lord – only partial obedience (that’s us, isn’t it?)

4.       Partial Obedience - Saul only obeys “so far” as it makes sense to him


a.       Something small is left undone – left the king alive

b.       Not everything was destroyed


E.       So God send the prophet Samuel back to speak to king Saul – to rebuke him, to get him to repent and humble himself before God (15:10-12)

F.       But Saul won’t humble himself. It’s not that he CAN’T, but that he won’t.

G.      His reasons are no different than any of our reasons for not breaking, and humbling ourselves before God, and accepting blame, and repenting, and getting right

H.      It is always amazing to me just how HARD it is for me to soften when I am proven wrong!!! Is it the same with any of you? I thought so!


III.   Message


A.      We, Like Saul, Believe We Have Done Right (1Sam 15:13)


1.       We see two kinds of sins in our lives


a.       Mortal or very bad sins – people who murder and commit physical adultery, well, they are SINNERS

b.       Venial – light sins

c.        The awful sins are those sins which others practice, while we tend to look upon our own sins, such as lying, as “little white lies.”

d.       God just sees sin!

e.        Do you know what a sin is? It is not when we “hurt somebody” – it is when we disobey God – period!


2.       Rarely do we take a look at ourselves from God’s viewpoint


a.       King Saul thinks he has done a great job for the Lord – proud of himself

b.       People may see us as great, good workers, husbands, mothers, children

c.        But the Lord sees our murmuring hearts, and sees our idle words, and our lustful eyes, and our wicked imaginations


3.       King Saul’s heart already is at him – he is already throwing up defences knowing that Samuel is going to find a fault with him


a.       It’s amazing that we KNOW we have not done right, even though we convince ourselves that we HAVE done right


1)       Lying to the boss about what we have done for the day

2)       Lying to the Garda about our speed

3)       WE KNOW we are lying, but we BELIEVE we have not done anything really wrong!


4.       Partial obedience is still disobedience!

5.       Saul would not confess his wrong doing. Didn’t think he had done anything wrong!


B.      We Blame Others for Our Failures (1Sam 15:14,15)


1.       Samuel is real cute here – he turns his head around and acts surprised to hear the bleating of sheep, and the lowing of oxen

2.       Immediately, king Saul beings to point the finger


a.       THEY have brought them…

b.       THE PEOPLE spared…

c.        But WE (now including himself) have obeyed God!


3.       Once Saul finds out that his “obedience” is unacceptable to God, Saul suddenly seeks to lay the blame on all the other people of Israel

4.       This “Blame-Game” is an age-old problem we ALL have


a.       Do you remember when this problem first occurred? It was found in the garden of Eden.

b.       In Genesis 3 the serpent tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit - she did and gave also to Adam

c.        As a result their eyes were open to their nakedness, and they hid from God

d.       Notice what happened in Genesis 3:9-13


1)       Adam blamed Eve and God

2)       Eve blamed the serpent


e.        How do people “pass the buck” today? By always passing responsibility on to someone else


1)       Blame others for their laziness

2)       Blame others for their hatred and bitterness

3)       Blame others for not coming to church, etc.

4)       Blame others for what is not being done, when they themselves are doing little or nothing


f.        Remember, when you point the finger, there are three more pointing right back at you.

g.        In the day of judgment there will be no “passing of the buck” (John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10)


5.       The lie that keeps us most bound in our sin is that we think we have someone else to blame for why we sin


a.       We drink because we lost our job

b.       We quit work because our boss was not kind

c.        We won’t talk to so-and-so because they hurt us

d.       We ignore someone because they ignore us

e.        We stopped praying because God didn’t answer one time

f.        We smoke because of the pressures of work

g.        We take pills because my parents beat me



6.       Saul still didn’t not confess his wrong doing. He thought others had done worse than himself!


C.      We Benefit from Our Own Ways of Doing Things (1Sam 15:16-19)


1.       Samuel reminds Saul of some things:


a.       Of what God had done for him


1)       Taking him from being a nobody, and making him king over the greatest people and kingdom in the world

2)       Giving him honour and power and blessing upon blessing

3)       Saul had had none of that before


b.       Samuel then reminds Saul of the responsibility that he now had as king


1)       Clearly instructed to utterly destroy this enemy of Israel

2)       It was not complex, hard, confusing


2.       Samuel then reveals the WHY Saul had only partially obeyed – because there was a lot to gain from keeping some of the spoils of war, instead of destroying it all – it would have been in Saul’s mind, such a “waste!”


a.       King Saul, and all the people did “fly upon the spoil”


1)       Couldn’t wait to TAKE from those people of their possessions

2)       It is like when people break into shops during hurricanes

3)       It is like when people take advantage of people in tragedies


b.       King Saul and all the people utterly destroyed the vile and refuse

c.        But they kept the good and worthwhile


1)       But God said destroy all of it

2)       It is easy to give up the sins that we don’t like


a)       I could give up smoking in no time at all – because I hate it

b)       I could give up drinking no problem – because I hate it


3)       It is much harder to give up the sins that we think are GOOD


a)       It is much harder to give up Sky Movies… hmmmm?

b)       It is much harder to give up time with the boys when we have so much “fun”

c)       It is very hard to give up thieving and lying when we get so much out of it


3.       Saul still would not confess his wrong doing.

4.       Saul’s way seemed like the better way, but only because HE would be the beneficiary, not God!


D.      We Belittle Our Sins – Make Them Small (1Sam 15:20-23)


1.       Saul Repeats himself…


a.       I “HAVE” obeyed, I HAVE utterly destroyed Amalek

b.       He is really trying to prove his point only by repeating himself

c.        The facts say otherwise!


2.       Tries the blame game one more time

3.       Tries to blame GOD now - God shouldn’t have wanted everything destroyed

4.       BUT, then, adds,… everything we did was all for GOD!


a.       We took their cattle to have a big sacrifice to God

b.       LIAR! They were going to have a free feast!

c.        To sacrifice any of the Amalekite flocks would have meant that they could have given to God what didn’t cost them anything… it would have enabled them to keep all their own flocks

d.       It is easy to give to God money that you didn’t earn – that you find on the street

e.        It is much harder to give from your own work, isn’t it?


5.       Samuel slams the Religious Reasons for Disobedience in a heartbeat


a.       God does not want sacrifices, and offerings, and money

b.       Simply worshipping God is not enough!!! And yet that what people think


1)       Go to church

2)       Say my prayers

3)       Thank the “man upstairs” everyday

4)       BUT, don’t ask me to obey HIM!!!!


c.        God wants obedience, a soft heart, a hearing and interested ear

d.       To obey is better than all the money in the world

e.        Faith is my choice to obey God, even when it doesn’t always make sense (Heb 11:6)


1)       Faith is not just what we believe

2)       Faith is what we do, and how we act because of WHO we believe and WHO we are obeying

3)       Faith is NOT obeying my flesh

4)       Faith is obeying the clear instructions in God’s word


6.       Saul thought his sins were nothing compared to what he was offering to God, but Samuel says his “little disobedience” was


a.       Rebellion – setting up OUR WILLS in competition against God’s will

b.       Stubbornness – resisting the pressure to admit wrong

c.        Rejection of the word of God – it was not going to govern his life

d.       Disastrous – Saul blew it and was headed for ruin!


7.       Listen to how bad Saul’s sin was


a.       As witchcraft


1)       Witchcraft is when you worship satanic and demonic powers, and seek THOSE powers instead of God’s power

2)       It is real folks, and very alluring

3)       Christians hate such things, but are just as bad as those that love witchcraft when we disobey God


b.       As idolatry


1)       Worshipping our selves is an awful sin.

2)       You may not have statues all over your home, but your pride and arrogance and boastings could fill a warehouse!


8.       Going through the motions of religious rituals is as damning as worshipping the devil himself!!!

9.       So Saul still would not confess his wrong doing. Didn’t think he had done anything wrong!


E.       It is Beneath Us to be Seen as a Failure (1Sam 15:24-31)


1.       Saul tries to verbally admit wrong, but not heartily. This was the difference between king Saul, and king David (Psalm 51:1-4)

2.       Backs away from blaming the people, to FEARING the people!!! For goodness sake, Saul was KING! The people were just doing what Saul was doing – not the other way around!


a.       This is one of the reason there is so much error in the world today - because man fears man instead of God

b.       Saul blamed his error on fearing the people - what about today?


1)       Afraid of losing friends, or not being popular

2)       Afraid of losing social status

3)       Afraid of losing a promotion

4)       Notice what Jesus said … Matthew 10:28

5)       Proverbs 29:25

6)       “Fear God and give him glory …” (Rev. 14:7)


3.       So, Saul Asks for Samuel to pray for him – strange, why not pray himself?


a.       Tries to sidestep God’s correction – didn’t like thinking about humbling himself – THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE MESSAGE

b.       Saul is saying something like: “O.K., O.K., so I messed up. I admit it. Now, can we get on with my life. I want you to stay with me and worship with me, so that my image is not tarnished before the people.”

c.        In effect now, as in the sin of partial obedience, Saul is more concerned with the people’s opinion of him than of God’s opinion of him. Saul wants to put his sin behind him without hating it, without putting it away from him. That’s what repentance is!

d.       Saul does not have a deep conviction concerning the vileness of his sin. He only fears that he will look bad if this situation is not handled properly. And so he pleads for Samuel to go back and worship with him, thus giving the appearance that all is well.


4.       But never did Saul humble himself to God, or to the people he affected and had hurt!

5.       No matter what Samuel said or Did, Saul just found it TOO HARD to humble himself!


IV.    Application


A.      The Results of NOT Humbling Ourselves


1.       Bitterness – Saul became only full of hate and bitterness towards people, including his won son Jonathan, and later David

2.       Bad attitudes – where you are not full of God’s Holy Spirit, you will end up filled with every unclean and unholy spirit – bad attitudes

3.       Broken life – not doing what you were designed to be or do

4.       Bondage


B.      The Blessings of Humbling Ourselves


1.       Salvation from God’s Punishment for our sins – repentance allows you to receive the free gift of eternal life and forgiveness

2.       New life in Jesus Christ – only for the meek and humble

3.       Closeness to God (Isa 57:15)

4.       Blessings from God


V.      Conclusion


A.      It is indeed sad to read about Saul’s disobedience.

B.      But sadder still is reading the account of Saul’s response to Samuel’s rebuke.


1.       Saul starts by claiming to have obeyed God’s command.

2.       Then, when his sin is exposed, he admits to his failure to fully execute the command, but tries to sanctify his disobedience by claiming it was only to better worship God.

3.       When Samuel casts aside this weak excuse, Saul finally confesses that he has sinned, but he lays the blame on the people. He claims that he feared the people and thus gave in to the pressure they applied on him.

4.       His concern is not that he has sinned against a righteous God, but that his public image will be damaged if Samuel openly severs his relationship with him. He does not have a deep conviction concerning the vileness of his sin. He only fears that he will look bad if this situation is not handled properly. And so he pleads for Samuel to go back and worship with him, thus giving the appearance that all is well.


C.      May we never fall into the trap of Saul where he:


1.       Blamed the people for his sin

2.       Neglected the portion of God’s law he did not want to do

3.       Thought is was alright to change God ’s law because he was doing it to worship God

4.       Feared the people more than God


D.      His reasons are no different than any of our reasons for not breaking, and humbling ourselves before God, and accepting blame, and repenting, and getting right

E.       It is always amazing to me just how HARD it is for me to soften when I am proven wrong!!! Is it the same with any of you? I thought so!


1.       We, Like Saul, Believe We Have Done Right (1Sam 15:13)

2.       We Blame Others for Our Failures (1Sam 15:14,15)

3.       We Benefit from Our Own Ways of Doing Things (1Sam 15:16-19)

4.       We Belittle Our Sins – Make Them Small (1Sam 15:20-23)

5.       It is Beneath Us to be Seen as a Failure (1Sam 15:24-31)