“Presumption is the Mother of all %#@$-ups”

If you’ve seen the Steven Segal movie “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory” then, like me, you’ve wasted your Saturday afternoon.  However, you’ve also heard one of the best quotable lines in movie history: “Assumption is the mother of all #$@%-ups!”  Too bad such a line can’t be repeated verbatim when it needs to be.  Well shocker of all, the prophet Samuel says something like it to Saul.

Saul had just returned from his mission to destroy the Amalekites who had mistreated and rejected Israel when Israel had come out of Egypt.  Saul’s mission: to devote to destruction everything of the Amalekites; men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, and everything else.  But Saul, being the ancestor of the modern day Christian who thinks God is always speaking in hyperbole rather than saying what He actually means (you know, the stuff about making a habit of attending the gathering and obeying your leaders and shepherding the flock according to the word of God rather than according to the fancies of men- stuff like that), doesn’t obey but spares Agag, king of the Amalekites, and the best of the sheep and oxen.

Now, to be fair, Saul’s intentions – like his modern day descendants – are good.  At least he tells himself they’re good. Saul presumes that it would be better, more holy, even greater, an act of unasked-for devotion that instead of destroying everything, like God told him to do through the prophet, he would keep the best and give it to God.  Sounds great, no?  How many people say, “Well, I think God would rather me have family time than go to church,” or “I’m sure God isn’t going to strike me dead because I live with my future spouse before I marry her,” or “Why would God hate me and my ‘sin’ since He’s the one that created me this way?”

But when confronted by Samuel, Saul feels the damnable weight of his screw up and confesses the truth, “I was afraid of the people!”  How many pastors and teachers have not done what the Lord commands because we are afraid of the people?  And like Saul, we presume that instead of rebuking sin and the sinner, God will be happier with us, even pleasantly surprised by our compassion and devotion if we just preach generically so we don’t offend.  So much for annihilating the enemy.  Instead, we’ve become idolaters.

That’s Samuel’s response to Saul’s seeming “gospel-oriented” disobedience.  “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”  It didn’t matter Saul’s intentions. The bottom line is that he didn’t obey the word of the Lord.  He presumed too much so that Samuel says to him, “Rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.”  In other words, presumption is the mother of all #$@%-ups.  Centuries later the Apostle would echo this: “Do you presume on the riches of [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to bring you to repentance?”

God forbid that because of our presumptions we hear from the lips of the prophet what Saul heard, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”

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2 Responses

  1. Again, a column which provokes thought and requires us to look again at what Blessed Dr Luther called the “light, bright devil” the temptation is always find a way to justify our fear. Our inabillity to “trust God above all things’ For those of us who do not use the traditional lectionary last Sunday story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water does bring that home. When called to be the brave shepherd to dtand betwen the oft stupid, unheeding, uncaring, bleating sheep and the wolves of hell with nothing but a stick in our hands. Fear tells us it id good to give up one sheep to save the flock. We can give way on one point, allow one error, refuse to confront one sin -all of course in the name of parish harmony, synodical concord or whatever myth fits the bill. But to do so is to give in to Satan-to lay down the victory and accept defeat. The stick we have been given the pastor shepherds staff is nothing less the wood of the cross on which hung the salvation of the whole world. Peter sank because he could not trust in the face of the “ill wind” Christ saved him with, in, and through thr ark of the church which is his body. when hearts grow faint, and limbs weak let the spirit proclaim through our lip, nevertheless I am a Christian.

  2. And because of Israel’s refulsal to obey God when He told them to clear the land to possess it, instead of leaving pockets of heathenism, still today the land is in turmoil and Israel’s little acre lives in the shadow of destruction. Of courwe their rejection of Christ doesn’t help either.

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