I have been mulling over 1 Samuel 15:23 for awhile (ever since we had an incident with one of our kids):
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.
One question that’s continued to perplex me is, “How is rebellion like the sin of divination?” Well, this weekend – when I was praying and working through an area in my own life in which I am struggling with rebellion – I think I got an answer!
Rebellion is opposition to one in authority, or an open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established leader or authority. Divination is the attitude of “I know exactly how this plays out/I know better than you because I have special knowledge and insight.” It feels a lot like discernment (which is from God), but it comes from the evil side of spiritual power rather than the God side. So, what I realized this weekend is that divination always is an element of rebellion. In other words, one of the main reasons why I’m struggling with rebellion is because deep down I think I know better than the person over me (against whom I want to rebel), know better where these decisions will lead, and know better how to do the job than the leader does. In my mind, my divination justifies my rebellion.
In legal terms, divination is the but-for cause of my rebellion: But for engaging in divination and believing that I know better than the authority over me – or that I know exactly what the future holds and the authority does not, I wouldn’t be tempted to rebel. Therefore, divination is causally related to rebellion. Where you find rebellion, you find divination.
For instance, when one of the kids rebels against my decision not to give them a banana right now, they’re doing so because they believe that it’s best for them to have the banana than not because they know better than me. When a leader in the church rebels against a decision the pastor has made regarding church activities, it’s because the leader believes he knows better than the pastor what will benefit the church the most. When a disciple rebels against a discipler’s admonition not to engage in certain behavior, the discipler believes she knows better than the discipler what is best for her spiritual well-being.
Lord, forgive me for all the areas in which I let my thoughts wander down the road of divination and lead myself straight into rebellion. Holy Spirit, guard my thoughts that I may have the mind of Christ, gifted with discernment and free of divination. May rebellion never creep into my heart, the hearts of my children, or the hearts of the people of our church.