Day Six – Don’t forget the altar

Today’s Scripture: 1 Samuel 14:24-45; James 4:6

On day three of this devotional, we read the seven stipulations that were established for Israel’s king. Number seven states he was not to think of himself more highly than others by expecting others to obey it while he disobeyed.

This requirement was tested after Saul had been king for a while. For whatever reason, he ordered his military to not eat anything until he had “avenged his enemies.” Imagine sending troops to battle with no food! The men were weak and distressed. Saul’s son Jonathan, however, wasn’t aware of his father’s command. So, when he came across some honey, he ate it and immediately felt strengthened. He then encouraged the other soldiers to eat, but they refused because of the king’s command. Jonathon reasoned with them that they needed food to regain their strength. The famished men went on a gorge-fest by slaughtering cattle and devouring the meat before it was fully cooked.

When Saul heard what his men were doing, he instructed them to sacrifice and cook the meat thoroughly so there was no blood in it. And for the very first time, Saul built an altar to the Lord (see 1 Sam. 14:35).

Altar building in the Old Testament was a common practice, particularly if a person was going to make a sacrifice or erect a commemorative monument to the Lord. It was a place where people called on the name of the LORD and remembered His promises. Altars were built by people who walked closely with God and wanted to acknowledge His Presence.

And, now for the very first time, Saul decided to build an altar. What does this tell us about his relationship with the Lord? Apparently, it was strained, because when he asked the Lord who had disobeyed his “don’t eat” mandate, God remained silent. Later when he learned it was his own son Jonathon who had eaten the honey, Saul was willing to have him killed.

Funny thing about human nature. We’re quick to see the little faults in other people, but often are blinded to the major faults in ourselves. The Lord had warned Saul about pride—Don’t think of yourself more highly . . . The shy, awkward young man had become an arrogant king who forgot about the Lord.

No wonder the relationship between the king and The King was strained. God opposes the proud (see James 4:6).

  • Is your relationship with the Lord strained—like Saul’s? What can you do to change that?
  • How can a person become more aware of the faults in his own life before pointing them out in others?