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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Delusions of Competence

leads to great errors.

1 Samuel 14:31–35

Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint. And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. Then they told Saul, saying, “Look, the people are sinning against the LORD by eating with the blood!”

So he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone to me this day.” Then Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people, and say to them, ‘Bring me here every man’s ox and every man’s sheep, slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the LORD by eating with the blood.’ ” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night, and slaughtered it there. Then Saul built an altar to the LORD. This was the first altar that he built to the LORD.

The people are famished due to Saul’s “oath” and so they dive into the spoils of war and feast on sheep, oxen, and calves. In their haste, they don’t drain the blood properly.

But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. — Genesis 9:4

Moreover you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwellings, whether of bird or beast. — Leviticus 7:26

“And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” — Leviticus 17:10

So, this is a major violation. Saul is shocked to hear about it, and quickly makes up a response to try to atone for their error. But he’s not a priest, and he doesn’t do this at Samuel’s command. It’s not genuine.

Saul started off strong, but now he’s just flailing around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he doesn’t let that stop him from following through on whatever he dreams up. First, he prevents everyone from eating. Then he sets up an altar to atone for the mistakes made by a bunch of very hungry people, while also preventing further error.

It never even crossed his mind that this was largely his fault.

Saul has what Garrison Keillor called “delusions of competence,” but that’s not the essence of what’s wrong. The real problem is Saul’s ego. He has lost his humility. Being king will do that to a man.

Humility would have given him pause when, in 1 Samuel 13:9, he made the burnt offering and peace offering sacrifices that Samuel was supposed to make. Humility would have kept him from inventing a silly fast on the eve of battle. Humility would have had him consulting Samuel more and being brash less.

Total dependency on the LORD is the hallmark of the Israeli crown.

Total dependency on the Lord is the hallmark of a Christian.

These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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