Tuesday, March 8, 2011

1 Samuel 16 - Does God Suggest Samuel Lie?

Over the past several weeks in Sunday School Class we have been studying the one-another commands. This past Sunday we looked at Colossians 3:9, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices”.

During our discussion the following passage was read. We briefly handled the text but I believe it is important to give a little more in-depth treatment to this passage and the two questions that may come from it.

1 Samuel 16:1-5 “The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” [2] And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ [3] And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you. [4] Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” [5] And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.”

The questions: 1. Is God suggesting to Samuel that he be deceptive and in essence lie? 2. Is deception or a lie taking place because Samuel is not disclosing the entire purpose of his journey?

Context is key. In Chapter 15, Saul is anointed King over Israel. However, he failed to obey the commands of God and is removed as King by God via Samuel. Samuel then grieves that Saul is no longer king (v.35).

Here, in Chapter 16, we see Samuel continuing to lament over Saul and God reproves him for his ongoing grief. God instructs Samuel to anoint a king from the household of Jesse. However, Samuel is fearful that he will be killed if Saul finds out about his orders from God to anoint a new king. Yet, God informs him to take a heifer for sacrifice and say, "I have come to sacrifice to the LORD."

The first question: Is God suggesting that Samuel be deceptive? No.

First, God is simply telling Samuel what to do. God has every right to require a sacrifice. When Saul was made king they sacrificed peace offerings (1 Samuel 11:15).

Secondly, Samuel could and did offer sacrifices (1 Samuel 7:9-10). These directions were within the scope of his role and responsibility.

Third, it is God’s prerogative to reveal as much of His will as He desires. Moses did not tell Pharaoh of God’s entire plan for the Israelites (Exodus 7:16, 8:1, 9:13). Although we do know Christ will return we do not know when (Matthew 24:29-31, 36).

Fourth, in order for God to suggest that Samuel be deceptive He must go against His own character. Scripture tells us that He is the “God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16, Psalm 31:5). God is not like a man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19).

Fifth, God commands us not to lie (Exodus 20:15). Certainly, God is not so small or weak that He must now make an exception to His command in order that David be anointed king. We also see the principle of speaking truth to others in scripture (Ephesians 4:25).

The second question: Is deception or a lie taking place because Samuel is not disclosing the entire purpose of his journey? No.

In order to correctly answer this question we must look back to the text. First, we know that Samuel never explicitly lied in this passage. Second, he properly answered the question, “Do you come peaceably?” with “Peaceably, I have come to sacrifice to the Lord”. The elders were concerned about their safety and Samuel addressed their concern.

The crux of the question is whether or not it was sinful to withhold information; particularly, privileged or sensitive information. Again, it is God’s prerogative as what to share and not share.

Is it wise to volunteer sensitive information to just anyone? No. Is Samuel under an oath or obligated in any way to the elders to reveal the total extent of his travel to Jerusalem. No.

Samuel followed the Lord’s instructions precisely and kept from sinning.

In closing, the thrust of this text is not to teach a moral truth about lying. However, we can examine this text in light of scripture that clearly teaches that God is truth and cannot lie, He commands us to speak the truth, and He always provides a way out when we may be tempted to lie in a difficult situation (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we scrutinize scripture in its context and in light of clear passages apparent contradictions rapidly dissipate.

Posted by Rick Jones

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