Bible Ballistics: The ‘Blessings of God’ or the ‘God of the Blessings’? Vol. 5 #02
I am teaching a Precept Bible Study class on 1 Samuel, and it has been refreshing and challenging. As I was preparing part of my lessons today, I just felt led to share part of it with you in today’s Bible Ballistics, for we so often seem to confuse the blessings ‘of’ God with the God ‘of’ the blessings.
1 Samuel 4 and 7 give an awesome contrast in this regard and I’d like to share a few thoughts with you today along that line. In chapter 4 we find Israel in a battle with the Philistines (you know, Goliath’s people). They don’t seem to have consulted God, or the priest/judge Eli in this encounter. Nor are we told that they sought Samuel’s counsel, although he was already recognized in Israel as a man, young man though he was, of God (see 4:1). When they are engaged in this battle, they are smitten before the enemy, but rather than seeking the counsel of God, what do they do?
1 Samuel 4:3-5, “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. 4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.”
The people and their leaders decided that they needed something extra. Notice here: NO prayer, NO counsel from Eli, and NO counsel from Samuel. They just presumed that if they brought ‘God’s Ark of the Covenant’ into their midst, notice, ‘IT’ would deliver them. Not God would deliver them, but the object that God had given them. The ‘blessing’ of God had become their confidence, rather than the God who had given them the blessing.
The people called by God’s name had abandoned their confidence in the God “from whom all blessings flow” to the ‘blessing’ itself. What happened? The same thing that happens to us all when our eyes become distracted by the gifts rather than focused on the giver—they failed.
Jeremiah 2:13, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Left God’s way for their own devices.
Romans 1:23,25, “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things…….Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Trusting in the creation rather than the Creator.
So what are we to do? Seek God the giver and not just His gifts. Yes, I love the blessings of God, but when I put the blessings before the love of the God who gives them, I am in sin. As James reminds us:
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Every truly good thing in life comes from God—‘every good gift and every perfect gift’ is from God. But we are to rejoice in the Lord, the ‘giver,’ and thank Him, not get so caught up in the ‘gifts’ that we forget the giver.
We see a different story of Israel in chapter 7 of 1st Samuel. Samuel has called the people to repent and turn to God (read all of chapter 7 for a great word of encouragement). As they were worshipping God, the Philistines come against them again, but this time we see a different response on the part of the people. Let’s see the difference that an attitude adjustment can make—a major Godly attitude adjustment.
1 Samuel 7:5-13, “And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord. 6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh. 7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. 9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. 10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar. 12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. 13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.”
What a difference an attitude makes!!! Do you have an Ebenezer stone? A place where God delivered you? Don’t forget to ‘remember’ what HE has done for YOU!!! Check that attitude.
Ecclesiastes 12:1a, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth…..”
Hebrews 10:35-37, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
I hope this short lesson from 1 Samuel will encourage your heart as it did mine. May we remember that
God is sufficient to any need that we have,
if we will but seek HIM,
repent of our sin,
call on HIM
and trust HIM for our deliverance.
Not relying on our own devices or even the perceived elements of the blessings of God, but truly, totally and completely devote ourselves to stay focused on and dependent on our God ‘of the blessings’. Him “from whom all blessings flow”. So, what is your answer today? Are you worshipping the ‘blessings of God’? Or are you worshipping the ‘God of the blessings’? It’s your call.