Skip to main content


In the NY Times Bruce McCall instructs in the art of The Perfect Non-Apology Apology.
"Caught red handed... It wasn't me" pleaded the philosopher Shaggy...

1 Samuel 13:8-14. It's early in the reign of Israel's first king, Saul. Around 1000BC. They've rejected God by wanting a king like the nations around them. And they get Saul, an impressive figure. He's just getting started but here it all goes wrong.

He was the King the people wanted, but not the King they needed.
The Sin (v8-9)
The Enquiry (v10-11a)
The Excuses (v11b-12)
The Judgement (v13a)
The Sentence (v13b-14)
Saul's fall begins with him waiting. His people are nervous and deserting him. The enemy is near. The prophet hasn't shown up yet. Impatient Saul takes matters into his own hands and seizes the prophet/priest office for himself, making an offering to God. And then - in perfect tragic/comic timing - Sauel turns up. "What have you done?" What indeed. What were you thinking Saul?

Saul had been given a set of responsibilities but this wasn't one of them. He stepped out of what was asked of him... and then didn't take responsibility for what he should've done. Ever done that? 

(a) Folly
What's the word for this? Samuel calls him a fool, and a breaker of God's command. He;s failed to trust The Father, and his spiritual father Samuel. 

(b) Blameshifting
Saul having taken responsiblity for things that weren't his responsibility is passing the buck like a hot potato.
I blame the people for being scared. 
I blame the enemy for being nasty. 
I blame the prophet for not being here.
And given all of those circumstances I was forced into making an offering to God. Forced. O yes, forced. Reluctant, but y'know: I did it for God. I blame him too. This problem you put here, God...
I blame God.
There are always circumstances, but it's never really the circumstances. They just provide the context, the trigger, the situation. Caught red-handed Saul dives into cover-up mode. "Saul is not the second Adam, he's the first Adam revisited." (Tim Chester)

Scapegoating. Irresponsible. Feckless. Saul, instinctively answers being caught with a non-apology apology.
"Every leader sins. But those leaders to fail to take responsibiltity for their sin and turn from it will find that they have nothing left to lead." (Peter Leithart) 
Here, and again later, the problem isn't so much the initial sin - that was bad - but the failure to own it. The story of Israel isn't a story in which salvation is found by covering up your sins - fig leaf style. The story is setup to give the freedom to be honest about everything - and to find one who will cover you. Saul tries to be the king of kings and save himself, instead of bowing to the real king who will be his scapegoat

And, as the King, so the people. And Saul leads his people round and round in circles, down and down into deathliness. But this will not go on forever. Like Adam, Saul throne cannot be allowed to go on forever - it will be given to another, a King of God's heart. "David is not even in the frame of the story...Samuel is speaking of Jesus" (Jacky Lam).

The true and better king is needed, pictured by Saul's heir David, realised in Great David's Greater Son, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Where Saul was a fool who deflected responsiblity for mistrust of God, King Jesus is wise and trusts his Father, and in that take responsibility for my folly and mistrust.

I shift the blame to keep myself out of trouble... and in the short term that might work but in the long haul this fecklessness will ruin my life. Lies catch up with us. Failing to take responsibility means I don't learn, I don't grow. It's vulnerable to be exposed... and to trust that there is one sufficient for me.


Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…