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What the Bible says about Rejecting God's Counsel
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Samuel 8:7-8

This circumstance highlights Israel's insatiable curiosity for variety that continuously revealed their badly divided mind toward God, leading them astray. They did not want a king in Israel like God wanted. God indeed would give them a king; the book of Deuteronomy lays out rules regarding that (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20). God had nothing against the nation having a king, but He wanted that king to be a man who was subject to Him. This was the only real stipulation.

But they did not want a king like God wanted; they wanted a kind of king like other nations had. This is why God says that they had rejected Him. In rejecting the kind of king God wanted them to have, they were also rejecting God. This fits into the pattern they had followed from the beginning of their relationship with God, which is why He mentions what He does in verse 8.

God provided mankind with this natural curiosity. However, by nature, it is undisciplined, so it needs to be wisely managed. It is here that the underlying problem between God and man lies: We have a powerful tendency not to believe Him, and thus we will not willingly listen to His counsel, creating division. This strong need for variety, mixed with prideful stubbornness, keeps telling us that we know better than He does. Therefore, humanly we are often driven to ignore Him and His wise principles.

Despite our age, we are frequently like children—particularly like teenagers. Those in their teen years begin to think that they know more than their parents, and rebellion and hardness of heart begin to come to the fore. They start believing that their parents are awfully dumb, or not really with it, not aware of what is going on. It is almost as if they think parents have no brains.

In I Samuel 8, Israel believes that the solution to their national and personal problems is to have a despotic king like the other nations, a monarch who would rule with iron-fisted control. They apparently never stop to think that the real problem resides in each one of them, because they have divided themselves from Him. As the beginning of the chapter relates, Samuel's sons had separated themselves from Samuel, and the Israelites are just like Samuel's sons, having separated themselves from Samuel and from God.

All of us have divided minds to some degree. Some have quipped that this is why all of us are insane to some measure. By way of contrast, God's mind is totally undivided. This points out why Paul writes in II Timothy 1:7: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." We need to be less like these Israelites and more like God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God

Proverbs 14:12

At its heart, Proverbs 14:12 instructs mankind in a vital truth: No truth is clearer, more direct, and more rewarding than God's truth. Nobody else's truth can exceed the reliability of God's truth, and in fact, it is impossible for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:18). The Amplified Bible provides this expansion: “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.” Yet, no deception is present when God and His Word are involved.

The word “death” at the proverb's conclusion is a clue that its instruction deals primarily with a choicein any circumstance of whether to sin. Within Proverbs, this verse is only one among many dealing with the human proclivity to make bad choices motivated by devious carnal desires to get the most and best for the self.

We all fall victim to the truth expressed in Proverbs 14:12. Adam and Eve, after being warned directly and personally by God, nonetheless almost immediately did what God had said not to do. The urge to satisfy our desires despite warnings exists for us just as it did for them. That we, too, sin after He reveals Himself to us is significant evidence that we truly do not respect and believe God as we should.

A great deal more evidence exists within Proverbs of how deeply pride is engrained in our character, persuading us to forge our way ahead rather than follow the wise counsel of men, let alone that of God. We may not fall into immediate death, but we do fail to achieve the success we had hoped for through carnal impatience, avoiding hard work, or even sheer hardheadedness because we refuse to follow sound counsel.

Proverbs 14:12 depicts a person following a path on a journey, which applies directly to all of us because, since our calling, we are on the way of salvation (Acts 16:17; 18:25-26). The Hebrew term underlying “right” more specifically means “straight” or “level,” but it also contains moral implications. The same Hebrew word is translated in verse 11 as “upright,” clearly showing its moral connotations.

Notice the strength of the scorn the proverb projects onto the traveler: The first phrase of the verse is singular (“a way”), but in the second phrase, it is plural (“ways”). Since no wise, human counsel appears in the context, it is safe to assume that in this case the counsel comes from God. Regardless, the fool will not listen to His advice.

Thus, as he begins to walk, he perceives a way open before him. This path shows promise of delivering happiness, power, and a long life, despite his being warned that things can easily go wrong in many ways with his preferred choice. Even so, he is blinded by his pride from the lesson God is teaching, which is clear: In God's way of life, there are no shortcuts to success. His instruction must be followed if one seeks to avoid the pitfalls that will arise.

Proverbs 12:15 follows the same basic path of teaching as Proverbs 14:12, reading, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” The Revised English Bible [REB] translates this more strongly in alignment with Proverbs 14:12: “A fool's conduct is right in his own eyes; to listen to advice shows wisdom.” The REB moves the focus from a person merely thinking, which may lead to rejecting counsel, to literal conduct, showing that he clearly rejected the good counsel God made available. Some are so proud that they tend to think of themselves as rarely wrong. In relation to God, the humanist thinks of himself so, always thinking he knows best. Yet, those who really do know God recognize that the humanist is unaware of the weakness of his relationship with God, and thus they know he is foolish.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Eight)


 




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