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Daily Devotional: Understanding the Greatest Commandment - A boy with outstretched arms at sunset over the sea. Daily Devotional: Understanding the Greatest Commandment - A boy with outstretched arms at sunset over the sea.

Daily Devotional | Take Sin Seriously


You may be familiar with the sin cycle described throughout Scripture: longing, temptation, sin, consequences, confession, repentance, restoration, then back to longing. It seems God’s people have always struggled with this same pattern, just as we do today.

In 1 Samuel 13, the young King Saul longed to make a name for himself. He had already defeated the Ammonites in the east. Now he wanted to engage the Philistines, one of Israel’s greatest enemies. Saul rebuilt his army up to 3,000 men. He kept 2,000 with him and ordered Jonathan, his son, to lead the other 1,000 to Gibeah (v. 2). Then, he gave Jonathan the order to attack (v. 3), effectively declaring war.

The problem here was that the prophet Samuel has given Saul clear instructions to wait (10:8). Israel was to be different from other nations. They were to receive instruction from God alone—through His prophet. Saul’s impatience resulted in a Philistine show of force—3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and “soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (v. 5). The army was terrified. Many of them ran and hid (v. 6). In desperation, Saul remembered Samuel’s directions. He waited, expecting Samuel to come on day seven as promised. But when Samuel didn’t arrive, Saul charged ahead again—making a sacrifice to save his own skin (vv. 8–9).

As soon as he completed the offering, Samuel appeared and asked, “What have you done?” (v. 11). Saul offered excuses, but the damage had been done. The consequences were far-reaching. This was the beginning of his end.

It’s easy for us to excuse certain sin, to call it insignificant, or even ignore it all together. We point to people who are worse. We fool ourselves that the “end justifies the means.” However, all sin falls short of God’s holy standard, and we love Him by acknowledging its effects.

Go Deeper

What was Saul’s mistake? Are you excusing or justifying any sin? What are the consequences?

Pray with Us: God, thank You for the somber warning about the consequences of sin in today’s reading from 1 Samuel. Help us to avoid falling into a similar trap that King Saul fell into. Help us to obey You in love! Amen.

BY Kelli Worrall

Kelli Worrall is Professor of Communications and Chair of the Division of Music and Media Arts at Moody Bible Institute. She is the author of several books, including Pierced and Embraced: 7 Life-Changing Encounters with the Love of Christ. Kelli studied at Cedarville University (BA), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (MRE), and Roosevelt University (MFA). Kelli and her husband, Peter, are parents of two children through adoption and enjoy decorating their Craftsman house.

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