Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose: 4

Matthew 14‑15  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 16
The Kenites represent the merely natural and earthly things which are blessings to those who receive them in faith, but curses and hindrances to the unbelieving, and used by the god of this world to blind their thoughts, but which are not to be confounded with that which the Lord has devoted to eternal wrath and destruction.
Saul smote the Amalekites throughout the length and breadth of their land, just as the Jewish system swept away everything that was opposed to the law and the holy place, but as while apparently exterminating the foe, he and the people spared all that was good, utterly destroying that only which was vile and refuse. So the Jewish system while pretending to a great zeal for God, suppressing with a stern hand everything that opposed itself to the authorized worship, yet spared everything that commended itself to fleshly religiousness, incorporating with itself and using for its own glory and advancement the very things which formed the mainstay and pride of the false worship and idolatry which surrounded them, namely, fear and sensuality.
From Matt. 14 commences the final trial, failure, and consequent rejection of the politico-religious system, first as to its political aspect and character. John (of whom Samuel is a type, both, the spiritual link between the old and the new, and the real witness for God of which the fleshly manifest thing was but a shadow, yet having a connection with and responsibility towards it) comes to Herod as one under responsibility to obey the law of God as King over His inheritance, and commands him to put away his brother's wife, to slay the pleasant sine. This, Herod refuses to do, and sparing the sin he slays the witness, and is himself cut off from any part in the kingdom to come. (Ver. 13. Compare 1 Sam. 15:1-291Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 4And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. 6And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. 8And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. 10Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, 11It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night. 12And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. 13And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. 14And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? 15And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. 16Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. 17And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? 18And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. 19Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? 20And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. 22And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. 24And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. 25Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord. 26And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou. 29And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. (1 Samuel 15:1‑29).)
Jesus, while showing His deep and utter abhorrence of all fleshly lusts by withdrawing Himself to a desert place apart yet at the smile time makes known His complete sympathy with all the needs of man's nature no matter how common or apparently trivial. He was moved with compassion about them and healed their infirm, and when the disciples would have dismissed the crowd to buy food for themselves, Jesus sympathizes with their hunger, saying, “They have no need to go; give ye them to eat.”
In the case of Herod is seen the high-handed disobedience to the revealed will of God, disobedience to a positive distinct command for and disregard of His warning voice.
From Matthew 14:13-3413When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. 14And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. 15And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. 16But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 17And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18He said, Bring them hither to me. 19And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. 22And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. 34And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. (Matthew 14:13‑34) the faithful Jews as represented in Peter—who is the characteristic of the Israelite under the Jewish system—are found also failing to enter into the full blessing and power of the work of God. God commands man to exercise faith and obey His word upon the ground of what He has done in the past, and of what He is in the present, as in the case of Saul. Here also the Lord first feeds five thousand men—representing the faithful ones in Israel, with five loaves and two fishes, and when all had eaten and were filled, causes to be gathered up twelve hand-baskets full of fragments, showing that there had been enough and to spare for all Israel—the whole twelve tribes had all had faith to partake thereof. By this work He proves His ability to supply every need; indeed making His disciples the hand by which He distributed His bounty, so that they could not have failed to be aware of the fullness of His power and grace, and with this plain lesson upon their minds He immediately compels them to go alone on board ship in order that He may test their faith and bring it into exercise. Yet having come to them walking on the sea and saying to them, “Take courage; it is I: be not afraid,” and then commanding Peter upon his own solicitation to come to Him upon the waters, expecting him to exercise faith and the power of obedience upon the ground of what He had done in the past, and of what He was as then and there present; yet Peter, though at first walking in the success of faith, fails, seeing the wind strong and fearing, and is compelled to take the place of a helpless, lost one, for beginning to sink he cries out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus acknowledges the cry of faith, catches hold of him in his extremity; points out the cause of his failure in his walk, and, having gone up into the ship, makes the wind to drop, and brings thereby the others to the perfect confession of faith, “Truly thou art God's Son.”
In chapter 15 is displayed the willful high-handed disobedience to the command of God of the politico-religious system in its spiritual aspect and character, the cause and method of the disobedience is declared, and consequent rejection indicated. Our Lord is attacked by the Scribes and Pharisees in His character as servant of the circumcision (Jesus-Jonathan) on the ground that He had broken the commands of the ancients. He replies as the sent One, the messenger of God, charging them with transgressing the commandment of God, showing that the cause of their failure both as to worship and service was that their heart was far away from God though they honored Him with their lips (Matt. 15:8, 98This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:8‑9)), and that it was not what a man put into his mouth that brought him into judgment (compare Matt. 15:1111Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew 15:11); 1 Sam. 14:4343Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die. (1 Samuel 14:43)), but what, coming out, was in his heart, rebellion, disobedience, and departing from the living God (compare Matt. 14:1818He said, Bring them hither to me. (Matthew 14:18); 1 Sam. 15:11, 22, 2311It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night. (1 Samuel 15:11)
22And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22‑23)
); that lip-worship and man's teaching were alike abominable to God, and that only the honoring Him with the heart and obeying His commands, were acceptable in His eight, and the Pharisees thus refusing to root up out of the things of God that which the Father had not planted, but sparing the religious things of flesh, though honorable and good, the best and fattest that could be found and bringing them to sacrifice unto the Lord, should be themselves rooted out-blind leaders of the blind would both fall into the ditch.
Matt. 15:21-2821Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21‑28) points to the period of transition wherein the grace and salvation which was the promised portion of the Jews upon their refusal of it goes out to the outcast woman of Canaan, pleading, as to the Lord's mind about it for the whole Gentile world, which she typically represented, so that our Lord's apparent reluctance to grant her the desired blessing, was not only that her faith might be fully drawn out by causing her to see her right place, which it assuredly was, but it was also to Him, doubtless, a foretaste and commencement of the casting away of the Jew and the bringing in of the Gentile, the making of the first last and the last first, which to Him as Israel's Messiah, the One of whom John was the voice, was a sad and terrible trial and perhaps formed the subject of His prayer in the mountain, even as at another time when the rejection was completed, the measure of iniquity being full, He wept bitter tears over Jerusalem.
So Samuel also was grieved at the sin and rejection of Saul, and cried unto the Lord all night. Samuel's words to Saul about his sin have a progressive character. When the word of the Lord comes to him saying, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king,” he cries unto the Lord all night, doubtless in intercession, that Saul might even then find a place for repentance; and had Saul taken his right place in confession, pardon would surely have been his, but instead he meets Samuel with a conscious lie— “I have performed.” Samuel does not lose hope and, still endeavoring to touch his conscience and bring him to confession, asks, “What then this bleating.... and lowing?” But instead of humbling Saul, this home-thrust only forces proud flesh to take a further step in sin, from rebellion he proceeds to stubbornness, actually pretending that his guilty act was meritorious and offering to return to God as a favor part of what he had stolen from Him as though he would make Him a participator in his crime.
This has always been the way with flesh after sin had entered. So Adam first makes a false excuse to cover his rebellion, and then—evading the direct question of God, refusing to confess his sin, which if he had done would perhaps have brought him into the results immediately of grace, showing that he was still rolling it as a sweet morsel under his tongue—he charges God with being the real cause of it, since it was He who had given the woman to be with him. So also Cain; confession coming too late, after judgment is pronounced.