Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

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Voting on Worship

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

It took me totally by surprise. I’m used to billboards advertising churches – “Come worship with us!” But this one was different. The church name was displayed prominently at the top (not so unusual) but at the bottom, in big bold letters were the words “Voted Best Place to Worship 2022.” That was a new one.

So I wondered: voted by who? Their own members? Isn’t there a Bible passage about that? Something along the lines of “people who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves are not wise” (of course there is – 2 Corinthians 10:12). Might there be a cadre of people whose job it is to visit houses of worship to see which is best? (I’m new to the area so maybe that’s a thing here.) What were the criteria for making this judgment?

We need to be careful with this. Worship is all about the exaltation of God. When God’s people live holy lives, then gather to praise God, listen to God, talk to God, and remember what God has done for them (which leads back to praise), that’s worship. It’s not about “place.” Through all this, I may be encouraged, renewed, motivated and instructed, but worship is not about what I get. Worship is about what I give and specifically, about what I give God. The most important thing about it is whether what we offer pleases the Lord. He is not required to accept whatever we offer (Isaiah 1:10-15) and if our text passages are any indication, what gets our vote probably isn’t getting His.

And His vote is the only one that counts.

Tuesday, March 18. 1 Samuel 16 – 18

How many people knew of Samuel’s words to Saul: “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”

If those words were widely known, no wonder the Elders of Bethlehem were alarmed when Samuel appeared.

On the other hand, Samuel appears with a heifer for a sacrifice. The law specified that if a murder was committed, and the perpetrator were unknown, the Elders of the town closest to the body were to offer a heifer as a sacrifice for the sin. The principle is that the community is responsible when blame cannot be determined. Perhaps Samuel’s appearance implied that a murder had been committed and the Elders had been ignorant or negligent of proper justice.

In any case, the whole idea of sacrifice disappears a third of the way into the story as Samuel proceeds to anoint David as king of Israel.

Two thoughts come to mind as I read this text.

First, didn’t God authorize Samuel to lie when he told him to tell folks he had come to make a sacrifice? The fact is, Samuel did offer a sacrifice, so it wasn’t a lie. On the other hand, it wasn’t the whole truth either and this points to the supreme sovereignty of God. The Lord has no obligation to be totally forthcoming, and you (we) have no right to full disclosure. God is not a man.

Second is the statement of the Lord Himself in 16:7 – “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It should always be our goal to know God so well that when we look at anything – people, things, or situations – we see them with the eyes of God.