1 Samuel 8 "The Portrait Hall": Portrait of a Weeping Prophet

We are a heartbeat away from making a terrible mistake. It will not come in a dramatic way – it will come by default. Slowly we will replace the steady and zealous pursuit of God with the quicker fixes offered by the world. We will cool in our relationship and slip away from the Word. If that happens, those who come behind us will slip into a pattern of defection from relationship.

Key Principle: God wants our relationship with Him through His Word to alter all our priorities, and set the pattern for our desires.

How Defection Happens among God’s People (8:1-5)

  1. The example of dynamic relationship fades in their midst (8:1).
  1. The next generation picks up FORM and TRADITION without real walk with God (8:2-3a).
  1. Without the relationship, they find it easy to turn from religious form to hypocrisy and sin (8:3b).
  1. Sensing a crisis of reality – people seek a solution. Their reaction is predictable because of their pattern – not seeking God, but finding a solution in the world’s pattern (8:4-5). That is the definition of defection: Answering our needs with solutions that God didn’t offer, following priorities that didn’t issue from our relationship with Him!

What the faithful do in the midst of defection (8:6-18)

  1. Watch them make the choice. People with a dynamic relationship with God will immediately see the problem with a solution from the world’s pattern – but they will watch unable to exert control (8:6).
  1. Rightly diagnose the problem. Be careful, they may sense that it is a PERSONAL rejection of the way it had been done before. In fact, the real problem is the departure from a walk with God as the solution (8:7).
  1. Remember their world. People with a walk with God often forget what it is like to walk without one and misunderstand the worldly solutions that are suggested (8:8).
  1. Check God’s Word for His answer, and recognize the problems He discloses for those who refuse His way. Warnings are given for a reason! (8:9-10).
  1. When given the opportunity, share graciously God’s warnings for defection. Tell them that following the world’s pattern will:
  1. Create ungodly division, the important from the lowly (8:11).
  2. Create a new set of priorities – serving ends God is not honored by (8:12).
  3. Disrupt your families to offer service to these other objectives (8:13).
  4. Redirect God’s property to other “important” functions (8:14-17).
  5. Create short term gain and long term regret (8:18).
  6. Distance us from God so that He withdraws His blessings (8:18b).

Two Outcomes of Defection (8:19-22)

  1. Blending with the World: In spite of warning signs, short term gains were of greater importance. The hunger to be what the world was overpowered God’s command that they be a distinct people (8:19-20).
  1. Prayerful bracing for impact: The godly will bow their head, slump their shoulders and watch them begin a walk on the wrong road! God will give them their desires, with all the fruits of them as well (8:21-22).

It doesn’t have to happen this way, but it so often does. One generation sees a move of God, but the next one sees only the form of their response. They look to add the self affirming elements of their “tradition” to a more wholistic view of their otherwise pagan philosophy, and keep God in a locked place on the schedule of their life. Without God’s answers, they seek other answers. The end is heartbreak! Is a vital and real relationship with God at the center of your life? Your schedule? Your decision making process?

God wants our relationship with Him through His Word to alter all our priorities, and set the pattern for our desires.