Brother, is your heart set on yourself or are you a man after God’s own heart? If I had to pick one image to represent the entirety of the Bible I might select the heart, for while it would point to God’s incredible love, it would also point to the need for our hearts to be wholly given to Him. Where is your heart? Does it belong to you or does it belong to God?
Here is God changing and touching hearts again. Notice as well that God does not abandon Saul who He called to His purpose. God provided for his safety. Never doubt that God will do what He said He would do. If He calls you to a purpose, your job is to obey; He’ll take care of the rest.
God’s people tend to depart from Him by accepting substitutes for Him, His purposes, and His ways. This departure always leads to trouble and God allows the difficulty as a means of disciplining His people so they might return to Him. As His discipline intensifies, His people finally turn to Him, repent and cry out for relief. Those that repent experience revival through a restored right relationship with Him and they walk with Him for a time.
This is the story of your salvation. In your poverty, Christ called you to Himself. When you realized He was your Kinsman-Redeemer, you fell at His feet and offered yourself to him as Ruth offered herself to Boaz as a bride. Loving you, Christ redeemed you. After marriage, Boaz went in to Ruth and she bore him a child. After you were redeemed by Christ, His Holy Spirit went in to you and you are to bear Him fruit.
We are in a spiritual battle here in America. God is the General in this battle, His Holy Spirit is an unbeatable troop of soldiers, His Holy Word is the artillery. You and I are simply the jeeps. We have the easy part but we still must do our part.
What happens to a society when they wander from right relationship with God into a belief system that seems right in their own eye? In today’s reading we see a society that is a very dark and dangerous place. No one can trust his neighbor in this society. A society in which everyone does what is right in his own eyes is a dangerous and scary place.
Samson claimed God’s favor through his vow. He believed that it was the vow that gave him power. In other words, he believed that he controlled this power; that God was bound to give him this strength as long as he didn’t cut his hair. Samson was wrong. God gave strength to Samson for God’s purpose. Samson misused it. Samson’s heart was in the wrong place; focused on himself and using God’s gift to his own purpose.
God is not some great vending machine in the sky; just put the right amount in and you get what you pay for. Nor is He the great loan-shark in the sky; “give me what I want today and I’ll pay you back with absurd interest latter.” Our attempts to bargain with God are simply attempts to control God. “I’ll come to you God on my terms.” This means we view God as a tool to be used by us. That has the relationship upside down. We are to be tools used by Him. To the secular mind this must sound outrageous. To the mind of one submitted to Christ this sounds reassuring.
Here, brothers, is yet another example of how we can walk with God one moment and then wander off the next. God can work through us and bless us, and then we start to think we are worthy of blessings. We start to think that we are responsible for our little successes. Our focus devolves back down to self-centeredness and away from God. Self-focus, self-centeredness, is the heart of all sin, and Gideon fell into this trap.