Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Liberty University Online: Essay On Obedience

I feel awesome. Totally awesome. You know how it is when you work hard on something and it comes back with a great result? That's how I felt about my essay - I received a 100% on it! This Liberty University Online Old Testament course has been challenging and an excellent reminder to me just how much God cares about each of us. If you get the chance, just sit down and read through some of your favorite Old Testament stories. If it's been a while since you've read the stories (and trust me, the stories are even better than what you remember from Sunday School), you might be surprised at how real the people are, the extremeness of their circumstances, and how ultimately God has His peoples' best interests at heart. God's compassion and mercy are just overwhelming in the Old Testament stories.

Here are the questions I had to answer in my essay:
During the time of Samuel, why did the people of Israel desire a king? Why was Saul chosen, and, ultimately, why was he rejected? What attribute did David display that made him a better king than Saul? What sin did Solomon commit that ultimately led to the division of Israel after his death?

Here's my essay (please don't tell me if you find a typo - it's too late - ha ha!)


God has always provided the best for His people. Always. The only thing He asks from His people, the ones He's chosen to lavish His love upon, is this: Love Me. The Lord just wants us to love Him above everything else. The way to express our love for Him is through our obedience. In Deuteronomy (1), the Lord promised the Israelites that if they would love Him by honoring and obeying Him, He would “love you and bless you and increase your numbers... You will be blessed more than any other people...” It seems so simple, even today. When we honor and obey God, “God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” (2)
     God provided miracles too numerous to mention for the Israelites and even provided food when there was none (3). He raised up great leaders like Moses and Joshua to guide them. Yet God suffered continual rejection by Israel, His love. During Samuel's time, the Israelites said to him, “Appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” (4) After receiving a stern warning from Samuel, who spoke the words of the Lord's warning to them, the Israelites insisted again they be given a king so “that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (5) The people of Israel had made up their mind: Having God as their king wasn't good enough for them. They wanted to lead their own way, to pick their own king, and God gave them what they wanted.
In Saul, the Israelites had someone they could proudly show off. Saul was good looking, tall, and he fit the physical profile of what the people of Israel thought a king should look like (6). He even had great successes on the battlefield, like when he had a “resounding victory over Nahash the Ammonite who threated to gouge out the eyes of the people of Jabesh-gilead.” (7) But Saul lacked understanding of God's love language, as did the Israelites: obedience. Being obedient meant trusting in God, His words, His timing, and His divine purposes. Saul showed fear by hiding at his own coronation (8). Later, he broke his commandment with the Lord by offering the burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel (9). It was ultimately “Saul's disobedience in following the divine command of exterminating the Amalekites caused Yahweh to reject him as king.” (10)
     Had the people of Israel been obedient to the Lord, they would have trusted in God's timing for their next leader. God raised up David, His choice for their leader, a member of the tribe of Judah, and a fulfillment of the Messianic prophesies. David was the complete opposite of Saul in every way. David wasn't remarkable looking. He was practically a boy, but he loved the Lord and was obedient to Him. When David took on Goliath, he did it with conviction and “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” (11) Unlike Saul, David gave God the glory of the victory, not himself. David showed his love for God through his obedience to the Lord's commands. Twice, David had the opportunity to kill Saul and assume the throne (12), but David respected God's anointing of Saul, and become king when God's time was right. David continued to honor God during his reign, and God gave David victory and blessings as he captured Jerusalem, defeated enemies, and sought to build a house worthy of the Lord for his indwelling. Along the way, however, David had some missteps. Even when he sinned, David showed repentance, something Saul didn't. Out of David's sin, by wrongly having a relationship with Bathsheba (13), Solomon was born.
       Solomon showed promise. He led in obedience to God and asked for His wisdom as he ruled the nation of Israel. And God, being generous towards those who invite Him in, promised to give Solomon more than he asked. God promised Solomon “both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.” (14) Ultimately, though, it was Solomon's decision not to keep God's commandments that brought about his demise and the division of the unified Israel. Solomon, the man who built the temple for the Lord, chose to worship false gods. Solomon chased after and collected over 1,000 women who didn't love the one true God. In doing so, he allowed his heart to be turned away by accepting idol worship in his own house. Solomon committed the ultimate insult to God by building altars to these false gods. God assured Solomon, “Since this is the way it is with you, that you have no intention of keeping faith with me and doing what I have commanded, I’m going to rip the kingdom from you and hand it over to someone else. But out of respect for your father David I won’t do it in your lifetime. It’s your son who will pay - I’ll rip it right out of his grasp. Even then I won’t take it all; I’ll leave him one tribe in honor of my servant David and out of respect for my chosen city Jerusalem.” (15)
     These stories are a reminder that when we are obedient to God, we'll receive His blessing generously. In each of their lives – Saul, David, and Solomon – the blessing is in proportion to their trust, obedience, and love for the Lord.

1 - Deuteronomy 7:13a, 14a, NASB
2 - Psalm 67:7, NASB
3 - Exodus 16:4, 10-14, NASB
4 - 1 Samuel 8:5b, NASB
5 - 1 Samuel 8:20, NASB
6 - 1 Samuel 9:2, NASB
7 - Hindson, Ed: The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey (Pg. 165). B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee: 2012.
8 - 1 Samuel 10:22
9 - 1 Samuel 13:8-14
10 - Hindson, Ed: The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey (Pg. 166). B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee: 2012.
11 - 1 Samuel 17:45, NASB
12 - 1 Samuel 24; 1 Samuel 26
13 - 2 Samuel 11
14 - 1 Kings 3:13a-14, NASB
15 - 1 Kings 11:11-13, The Message

For more information about Liberty University online, click here or call #250 on your cell and use the keyword "Liberty University."

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