The Danger of Presumption
Today’s reading: I Samuel 27-29; Luke17:1-19
15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” I Samuel 28:15
10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10
Presumption may not be a word you hear or use every day, so let’s start with a definition. The Google dictionary says that presumption is “behavior perceived as arrogant, disrespectful, and transgressing the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.” A person with presumption is presumptuous.
Saul was presumptuous. Servants of the Lord must not be presumptuous. The nine lepers were presumptuous. Let’s look closer.
Saul was facing a military crisis. He had failed in all his attempts to find and kill, his perceived rival, David. Now the Philistine army was amassing on his border, ready to strike. Saul had a long history of presumption. He took matters in his own hands ignoring God’s law and Samuel’s instructions. God had left him, but Saul presumptuously continued to seek God’s help and direction. When he could not get an answer from God, he turned to a medium and sought the departed Samuel for guidance. Samuel merely reiterated the judgment that he had already pronounced on the king, that he would lose his kingdom. Samuel now added a timeline onto this verdict. Saul would die, with his sons, the next day. Saul was foolish to the end. His foolishness showed itself in presumption.
Jesus told a story about a hypothetical servant whose master waited on him rather than observing the normal division of labor. If that were to occur, we would charge the servant with being presumptuous, arrogantly accepting service from his master instead of respectfully offering service to him.
In another incident, Jesus healed ten lepers, an unheard of miracle. Yet only one of the ten thought to return and thank the Lord for His mercy to him. The nine were presumptuous.
Presumption shows itself in our expectations, as if God owed us something. It shows itself when we fail to be grateful for all our undeserved blessings. It shows itself in failure to confess our sin and repent before God, asking for forgiveness of our presumption.
Beware of presumption. It may not be a common word, but, I’m afraid, it is a common failure.