Posts Tagged 'King'

ABOUT A KING

Proverbs 25:1—5

The first group of verses in Proverbs 25 deals with the difference between God and earthly kings.  Verse 1 gives us brief background information—

These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah.

Bible scholars have a name for chapters 25—29:  “The Hezekiah Collection,” because they were collected and preserved by godly King Hezekiah, king of Judah.  Who was this man?

Hezekiah was known as one of the southern kingdoms greatest leaders.  He was a not only a great and capable king, but he was also a religious reformer.  Thanks to his efforts, a great revival broke out in Judah such as hadn’t been experienced in the land for a long time.  Among Hezekiah’s contemporaries was a prophet of some renown by the name of Isaiah.

What is interesting about verse 1 is the picture it gives us of “the men of Hezekiah.”  They are seen “compiling” various proverbs of Solomon.  The word suggests careful copying and learning.  A revival in the land accompanied this renewed interest in the Word of God.   Adeney had correctly observed:  “A revival of religion should lead to a revival of learning.” Each time a revival broke out in the Old Testament, it involved vigorous preaching and studying of the Scriptures.

Another interesting thing about Hezekiah and his men is that they were not above learning from other wise men, in this case, Solomon.  Even though he was king of the land, and even though Solomon was long gone, Hezekiah gained knowledge from what Solomon had written that led to what was arguably the greatest revival in Judah’s history.

1.  God and kings contrasted, verse 2

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

This verse tells us how God and how kings acquire glory.  What stands out is that they are more or less opposite.

First, God is glorified by “concealing a matter.”  In other words, things are purposely hidden from the understanding of human beings by God.  Why would God do this?  Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us—

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

It is in the nature of human beings to look for answers to every question in life.  Where did he come from?  What does his future hold?  Man is always striving to know things, and when answers are elusive, he makes them up.  God stifles man’s quest for knowledge so that in his frustration man will come to realize his limitations and insufficiency.  There are many things known only to God and indiscernible to human beings  There are many things about God the beyond human the human capacity to understand.  McKane put it succinctly—

When it is supposed that everything is known about God, it is no longer possible to worship him.

Faith becomes routine and ordinary when God becomes just like us; when there is no boundary between Him and His creation.

In contrast to what brings glory to God, the glory of a king is for him to know what is going on in his kingdom.  The phrase, “to search out a matter” means “to expose problematic issues and people.”  The truly wise and righteous king should never clothe himself in a veil of secrecy or surround his administration with an impenetrable wall; that alone is God’s glory.  A king’s charge is to secure the welfare of his subjects, but he must not do it God’s way.  God and kings promote the well-being of their subjects in very different ways, and wise the king that understands that.

God heaps mystery upon mystery upon human beings, limiting their knowledge and understanding so that they may seek out answers in Him.  The king, on the other hand, by careful research, exposes the truth of a matter for all his subjects to see, thereby preserving the integrity of his office.  Any political leader loses the confidence of his people when they perceive him to be clueless.

2.  State of the king’s heart, verse 3

As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

At first blush, this verse seems to exalt a king’s wisdom.  In fact, many older commentaries view this verse as very positive, that is, the wisdom of kings is beyond the understanding of us ordinary folk.  However, this proverb is actually complex and two-pronged.

First, it serves as a warning against being taken in and deluded by the favor of the king.  His motives are not easily discerned but his mind is.   The person who is favored by the king one day may become his enemy the next.  The heart of the king is as unfathomable as the heights of heaven and the depths of the earth.  Or, to put it another way, no king should be trusted or his words taken at face value.

Second, on a more positive note, there is an admonition here for the king.  A righteous and wise king ought to have wisdom greater than that of his subjects.  The leader of a nation must be resourceful, inscrutable, able to see into the heart of a matter and make sound judgments.  Everything a king does ought to enhance his standing before the people.

3.  Stability through righteousness, verses 4, 5

Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.

These two verses form what is known as an “emblematic parallelism,” and serve to illustrate something important in regards to the king and his administration:  as only the best vessels are made from refined silver, so only the most worthy of individuals should make up the royal cabinet.

Since a man is known by the company he keeps, how important is it for a king to have officials who mirror his own integrity and honor?

Verse 4 is difficult to translate, but its sense seems to be that if the king removes the wicked officials from his service, his throne will become righteous.  Greenstone’s observation is instructive:

The king may have perfect ideals and his conduct may be irreproachable, but he may be misled by unscrupulous courtiers.

One thing we learn from Hebrew history is that when the king’s court is pure and stocked with godly men, it is able to exert considerable force for good on the population.  Jesus Christ, as King of Kings, similarly speaks of His coming kingdom at the Day of Judgment when all sinners and rebels and workers of iniquity will be purged from the land.  As they say, it only takes one bad apple to ruin a barrel of good ones.

Finally, verse 5 indicates that a strong throne is established through pure moral authority, not by force and certainly not by deception.  How many thrones and administrations throughout history have been done in or rendered impotent because of a collapse of moral authority?  Clarkson has wisely pointed out:

Justice is imprinted upon the nature of a man.

While all people are indeed sinners, deep down in their heart of hearts they yearn for justice and they recognize when it is present and when it is not.  Citizens of any kingdom in every age will forgive their political leaders many faults, but definitely not this one.  Why must the king surround himself with morally pure servants?  It is because they shape the nature and character of the kingdom.  A nation rises or falls to the moral level of those leading it.  Some verses in Isaiah serve to illustrate this—

See how the faithful city has become a prostitute! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her—but now murderers!  Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water.  Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.   (Isaiah 1:21—23)

Isaiah has used very poet language to describe the political and moral situation of his day.  Because the rulers were despicable men, the city itself, taking on their sense of morality, had become (like)  “a prostitute.”  That is not to say every single citizen had corrupted themselves, just that the overall nature of the city had become corrupted.  The prophet goes on to describe in some detail what will happen to such a population—

I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.  (Isaiah 1:25)

Without elaborating on the eschatological significance of what Isaiah wrote, there is a principle here:  God will, in His own way and in His own time, take matters into His own hands when a  nation turns its back on Him and on its people.  Taking our cues from Hebrew history once again, we notice how time and again the Lord brought a series of natural disasters and man-made calamities upon His people when they wandered from His Law; locusts, drought, earthquakes, hail storms, and even foreign invaders were all used by God to get the people’s attention—starting with the king—with the purpose of bringing them back to Him.   God is absolutely sovereign and will use anything at His disposal to restore moral righteousness and justice in the land for the benefit of His people.

While there are no theocracies today, the principle is clear.  God desires leaders of nations, be they kings or prime ministers or presidents, to practice sound morality and ethics and to provide for the well-being of their people.  That well-being starts with the freedom of God’s people to do the work to which we have been called: win the lost.   When political leaders exercise their authority in way contrary to God’s will and to the detriment of their people, they unwittingly open themselves and their nation up to a supernatural backlash that is often disguised as “freak accidents” or “once in a generation” catastrophes.

There is a certain comfort in another Proverb–

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Make no mistake about it and don’t be taken in by circumstances that appear to be contrary:  God is in control of every political leader and He will have His way with them, eventually.  Every king who rules against God’s wishes will rue the day he ever presumed to take matters into his own hands.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

SAUL: The Courageous

1 Samuel 11

 Saul had been anointed Israel’s first king in the previous chapter and now in chapter 11 he has a chance to prove himself.  Following his declaration as king, Saul inexplicably went back to tending his father’s sheep.  Why did he do this?   Many Bible scholars point to Saul’s humility but it may very well be that Saul was demonstrating a measure of wisdom in returning home.  Israel had never had a king before so the monarchy was new and we have already read about some resistance Saul encountered from a bunch of worthless people (10:27).  Perhaps Israel’s first king went home to wait for God to act, after all, God had chosen Saul to rule over His people, Saul had no desire to become king, and perhaps Saul wisely decided to wait for further instructions from God through God’s prophet, Samuel. 

Saul’s chance to prove his worth as king would not be long in coming.  Dark storm clouds were gathering just over Israel’s horizon at a small town called Jabesh Gilead in the form of Israel’s bitter enemy, Nahash the Amorite.  Adelaide Anne Proctor in her work, Legends and Lyrics, Second Series, wrote this: 

Blessed are those who die for God,
And earn the Martyr’s crown of light–
Yet he who lives for God may be
A greater Conqueror in His sight

Saul was about to be given the opportunity to live for God and here, early in his career, he rises to the opportunity. 

1.  The bad news, verses 1—4

According to the Septuagint, this occurred about a month after the convocation at Mizpeh where Saul was anointed chosen to be king.   So for one month Saul went back to the life he knew so well. 

During this time, Israel’s enemy was on the move.  The Amorites were a group of Semitic people, prominent in the book of Judges, and were for the most part Bedouins who lived on the fringes of the desert, from where they continually raided border towns and cities.  In Judges 11:13 we read this—

The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”

It seems as though Nahash and his people laid claim to the land Jabesh Gilead was sitting on.  Nahash overwhelmed the townsfolk who were utterly defenseless and willing to surrender to the superior might of the Amorites.  Nahash had no problem making willing subjects out of the people, as long as he could gouge out their right eyes.  This would be considered a disgrace upon all Israel; a sign that the whole nation could not help one small town.

What a secondary but tremendous lesson here for Christians.  We cannot make peace and compromise with our enemy, the Devil.  He always extracts a hefty toll when we try to bargain with him.  Of course, he is ready, willing, and able to bargain with us.  Remember what happened to Samson when he compromised his integrity and honor for worldly passions?

Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.  (Judges 16:21)

What a picture of what sin does to Christians:  it first blinds you to the seriousness of it, then it binds you; traps you in an endless cycle of sin, drawing you further and further in, and finally it grinds you, leaving you empty and cold.  The good people of Jabesh Gilead were willing to become subservient to the Amorites in exchange for their lives.

2.  The divine opportunity, verses 5, 6

Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with the people? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.   When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.

Here is an effect the Holy Spirit has on a person that we don’t consider very often:  the Spirit came up Saul and he “burned with anger.”  Did you know that a believer can motivated by the Holy Spirit to “burn with anger” as much as be moved to compassion?  There may be one Spirit, but He manifests Himself in many different ways.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  (1 Corinthians 12:4—6)

Why was Saul so angry?  Doubtless his anger was roused by the reproach brought upon the nation of Israel by the arrogant Nahash.  Does sin cause us to become angry?  There is a righteous anger, you know.  Christ expressed it.  So did Paul.  When was the last time sin against God caused you to become angry?  When was the last time your own sinfulness caused you to become angry?  

God took this deplorable situation and used it to motivate young Saul to action.  The Spirit of God filled Saul with a holy anger and empowered him as a righteous and powerful military leader.  This anointing from God lasted, apparently, until Samuel anointed David to replace Saul as king.

3.  The challenge, verse 7

He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.”

Saul’s inspired reaction was to send out a general call to war throughout the tribes of Israel.  This call was graphically illustrated by chopping up his own oxen and displaying them.  This gory spectacle was like a loud trumpet blast in the ears of a drowsy nation.  We are told—

Then the terror of the LORD fell on the people, and they turned out as one man.

The “terror of the Lord” does not refer to some kind of divine punishment.  In fact, Saul’s appeal to fight was so powerful and so energetic and so enthusiastic, that the people of the nation, down to the last man, discerned that the power of God was now at work in Saul and it inspired them with a kind of holy fear and compelled them to follow Saul.  300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 from Judah rallied behind Saul and mobilized at Bezek, just across the Jordan from beleaguered Jabesh Gilead.

When a person is moved by the Holy Spirit, signs will follow.  Remember; the action of the Holy Spirit is contagious.   When a person yields himself to the Holy Spirit, others will do so.  When we are enthused about God and God’s work, it will motivate other believers.  When we are excited about our faith that excitement will touch other people; it will produce that same excitement in believers and curiosity in unbelievers.   Acts 4:13—

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Fearlessness and courage are two things that will characterize a believer who is completely dedicated and devoted to Christ.

4.  A mighty victory, verses 8—11 

Being led by the Spirit of God, Saul had no problem with followers.  We may well imagine how the citizens of Jabesh Gilead felt when they received this message— 

‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be delivered.’  (verse 9)

 That they were “elated” (NIV) was an understatement!  They would live, and they would live with both their eyes.   The timely arrival of Saul and his loyal forces serves as an excellent illustration of God’s mercy.  The besieged citizens were literally on the brink of destruction, about to become a life-long slaves to the Amorites and a reproach and an embarrassment to Israel.  Saul the Spirit led and Spirit empowered leader was able repel the enemy and deliver the people of Jabesh Gilead. 

There is literally nothing that a person filled with the Holy Spirit cannot do for the Kingdom of God.  There are many people today who are like the pitiful citizens of Jebesh Gilead:  threatened and taunted by the Devil, on the verge of being absorbed into the world around them.  People like that, who have been overtaken by sin are watching their witness for Christ slip away and their rescue is up to us; Spirit-filled warriors of Christ.   The words of Jude sound a clarion call to all of us— 

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.  (Jude 22—24) 

Victory over the enemy comes when we begin see the enemy for who he is and we begin to hate him with everything inside us.  Too often we treat sin as mistakes or errors in judgment; we take sin and the Devil for too lightly.  We are, according to the inspired Word of God, to hate even clothing tinged with sin.  

5.  Mercy or weakness, verses 12—13 

The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring these men to us and we will put them to death.”

But Saul said, “No one shall be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel.”

Saul’s complete and astonishing victory cemented the allegiance of the people.  In fact, in their new zealousness for the man who acted so kingly in battle, the people of Israel wished to execute the “sons of worthlessness” who had objected to Saul’s elevation to the throne just a short time earlier.  But Saul, proclaimed an amnesty, sparing them.  

Most Bible scholars point to Saul’s statesmanlike quality in demonstrating mercy toward the troublemakers.  But are we really witnessing mercy?  Or are we witnessing something else?   Is Saul being a good leader and king by allowing these men to live? 

In 1513 Machiavelli wrote a 100 page book on statecraft and the wielding of power called The Prince.  Here is his opinion: 

It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope

Jesus Christ, in the Parable of the Ten Minas found in Luke 19:11—27, teaches us how a godly king shows mercy and leadership at the end of the story— 

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.” 

So was Saul showing magnanimous mercy to those who deserved it?  Or was he once again showing weakness, not strength?  Was there something in Saul that kept him from achieving greatness as Israel’s first king? 

Machiavelli was right, as far as he went.  Human beings are not basically good; they are sinful and they are corrupt and in their hearts, evil.  Saul was Israel’s first king.  It was a position he neither considered nor coveted; it was literally thrust upon him in a moment.  He was God’s man and the people’s choice.  But he was a poor choice for he was a mirror reflection of the people who chose him.  Saul would prove to be much like the people he just saved in Jabesh Gilead:  a fearful, double-minded compromiser who cared more for his own comforts than for the God he claimed to represent. 

6.  Reaffirmation, verses 14, 15 

Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there reaffirm the kingship.”  So all the people went to Gilgal and confirmed Saul as king in the presence of the LORD. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the LORD, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration. 

This was the public confirmation of the private call of God.  Gilgal was famous for being a place of suffering and humiliation.  Joshua 5:2— 

At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 

The reason God wanted Joshua to do this was because it had been left undone for a generation— 

All the people that came out (of Egypt) had been circumcised, but all the people born in the desert during the journey from Egypt had not.  (verse 5) 

This situation had to be set right so that the people could continue to be obedient in their new land.  It was here, in this place of historical significance, that all of Israel affirmed the choice of Saul as king.  

Unfortunately, the celebration that followed would give way to disobedience and disappointment.  The true state of Saul’s heart would work itself out in his actions.   The  prophet Jeremiah wrote these telling words concerning the true state of the human heart–

The heart is deceitful above all things
       and beyond cure.
       Who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

And Jesus warned–

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  (Luke 6:45)

No wonder David prayed–

Hide your face from my sins
       and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence 
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.  (Psalm 51:9-11)

(c)  2009 WitzEnd 

SAUL: The anointed

1 Samuel 10

The word “anointed” has different meanings depending on who is using it or who hears it.  Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be,” gives us a good sense of what “to be anointed” means:

Take my life and let it be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

One cannot be “anointed” of God until they are consecrated and devoted to God.  A preacher’s preaching cannot be anointed until he himself is dedicated to God.  And a preacher’s message cannot be anointed to those hearing it until they are consecrated and dedicated to God.   To be “anointed” is to be set apart for God’s purposes.  It is not some tingly, warm feeling a person gets when they hear a good sermon.

Sir Edwin Arnold wrote in The Light of Asia, Book Four:

While life is good to give, I give.

Too bad so many Christians have never read The Light of Asia.  Too bad many so Christians give the left overs of their lives to God, keeping the good parts for themselves.  Too bad so many Christians put off serving God in their youthful, young, and energetic years, deciding in their declining years to “get serious” with Him.  What a waste of good years.  No wonder so many church members leave a Sunday morning service not feeling a thing when they, in fact, met with God; they were there in body, but their minds were far away.  They were not “anointed.”  The preacher may have gone through the motions of preaching, but that sermon did not come from his heart and soul because his was not “anointed.”  That “anointing” is something we all want, but we do not want to do what is necessary to obtain it.   I may call myself a “Minister of the Word and Sacrament,” but that in no way anoints my words.

We expend so much of our time and energy chasing our dreams and building our little “empires” that very little is reserved for God.   We may be engaged in worthy and worthwhile endeavors, but that does not mean they are done in God’s Name and for His glory.

Saul and David were all chosen or anointed by God while they were young.  They served a great master, and that great master deserved great servants.  In young Saul, we see a “choice young man.”   And while we all know how Saul’s life fell apart, at least early on we see a life full of promise and potential.  Saul had everything going for him as a young man.

1.  He was separated by anointing, verse 1

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?”

The process of making Saul Israel’s first king necessitated two main steps:   First was a private ceremony, which is described here.  The second step was the public choice followed by a public coronation.

The flask of oil Samuel used contained the all-purpose olive oil, but here it was designated as “sacred” oil.  Psalm 89:20—

I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him.

This is God speaking; God, through Samuel, anointed the kings of Israel, beginning with Saul.  It was God Himself who set Saul apart from crowd to fulfill His purposes for His people.  A monarchy was not God’s will for His people, but He was the One who allowed men to ascend the throne.  In ancient Israel, both priests and kings were called out and anointed like this.  This anointing of God set them apart from the general population.

All of God’s servants, in fact, are chosen and anointed like this, spiritually if not actually.  1 John 2:27—

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

John was writing to church members, not church leaders.  Believers—people in the pew—are all anointed of God, whether they realize it or not.  What does that mean?  It means that believers—true believers—are set apart by God for a purpose.  Are you set apart? Or from God’s perspective, do you just blend in with the hordes of sinners all around you?  Christians should be separated from the world around them; you are anointed, like Saul, and you should live anointed lives; lives that are markedly different from your unbelieving neighbors.

In the case of Saul, he was informed of God’s will, and shortly thereafter the sacred anointing oil was applied.  In our case, as soon as we know the will of God as revealed in His Word, we should be separated from the world to Him.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians, reminding them of this very fact—

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:13b)

2.  He was encouraged by promises

God had anointed Saul but He did not leave him high and dry; God, through Samuel, gave His new king a three-fold promise concerning:

  • His immediate concernsWhen you leave me today, you will meet two men…They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found.  (verse 2) When God anointed Saul He met one of Saul’s pressing needs.  Remember, Saul was out looking for his father’s donkeys and was worried about his father.  God anointed Saul and promised to care of that routine, everyday problem immediately.
  • His physical needs“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine.  They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.”  (verses 3, 4) God anointed Saul and God made sure Saul was would be well fed and his physical needs would be taken care of. 
  • His spiritual needsThe Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power.  (verse 6a). God promised to give Saul the depth of spiritual insight he would need.

And so God promised that Saul would be given everything he would need to be anointed.  He could easily be set apart from the world to fulfill God’s purposes because God Himself would give Saul whatever he needed; Saul would never again need to be a part of the world around him.  This three-fold promise has also been given to Christians according to Romans 8:32—

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

If only Christians could practice the faith they profess to have.  We claim to believe in the Word of God, yet we live like we are the ones who have to provide “all things” for ourselves.  If we had faith in and trusted God more, we might spend less time in spurious pursuit of “all things” and more time in pursuit the things of God.   It is easy to  object to that way of thinking, claiming the “Protestant Work Ethic” demands the majority of our time and effort.  God can take care of that, too, as He did with Saul, with the next point.

3.  He was changed, verse 9

God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.

It is impossible to live the kind of anointed life God demands without being changed in some way.  God changed Saul’s heart—a kind of regeneration—and God gave Saul new desires and new motives.  God can do that for all believers; this is what regeneration is all about.  David prayed to God—

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

Do you find living a dedicated and consecrated life daunting?  Do you find the prospects changing your habits, hobbies, and attitudes distasteful?   Does the thought of forsaking certain people or pursuits seem unreasonable to you?  Do you find the demands of Scripture unreasonable?  The reality is not a single Christian can live a holy, separated  life—which God demands—on his own.  The good news is that God will make it possible for you to do so.  He gave Saul a changed heart, meaning Saul was made “another man” when the revelation of God’s purposes were made clear to him.  A very similar thing happens to us when we are born again—

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  (2 Corinthians 5:17—18)

Nobody can be the same after the Kingdom of God has been birthed in their souls!  God makes us new people, as He made Saul a new man.  It is completely an act of grace; something done for us for our benefit to make living the anointed life possible.

4.  He was given assurance, verse 9

…all these signs were fulfilled that day.

The blessings of God become obvious to those whose lives are yielded to Him.  When our outward circumstances are made to conform to and confirm the thoughts and intents of our new inner lives, everything will change.  For Saul, when God regenerated his inner man, all His promises came to pass.  For us, when we make the effort live by faith according to Scripture, when we make the effort to live like the “new creatures” we are, God will make all things work together for our good; our whole perspective on life will change.  When God’s will is made known to us, and we willingly yield ourselves to the fulfillment of His will, we will see many “signs and wonders” coming into our lives as tokens of confirmation that God is pleased with us.  As one commentator observed:

The outer wheels of our circumstances never move contrary to the inner workings of the Spirit of God.  There may be wheels within wheels, but they are “full of eyes,” and so cannot err.

5.  He was empowered by the Holy Spirit, verses 10, 11

When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.  When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit and they yield themselves to Him, signs are sure to follow.  Notice that Saul looked like a prophet and joined in with the prophets; and why not?  Was he not filled with exactly the same Spirit as they were?  If you are born again, then you also are filled with the same Spirit that indwelt not only the prophets, but Jesus Christ as well.  Not only that, God’s blessing is contagious.  When Christians yield themselves to the Spirit of God within them, the move of the Spirit within them will touch others close by and they will yield themselves, just as Saul did in the company of the prophets.  This is, perhaps, one reason why so many of churches seem devoid and bereft of the power of the Holy Spirit:  nobody, including the pastor and elders, are willing to let go and let the Holy Spirit take over.  The tragic thing about that is we are robbing each other of something very precious:  a transcendent spiritual experience that will not only take us to new levels of spirituality, but our congregations as well.

6.  He was humbled, verses 21, 22

But when they looked for him, he was not to be found.  So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”  And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”

The kingdom of God had come to Saul, not because he asked for or sought after it; it was given to him as a gift from God.  He could have been swollen with pride; instead he was humbled to the point of hiding from people.  He remained small in his own eyes despite the great blessings showered on him.  Sadly, this humility would leave him later in life, but for now this humility was real and was a part of his character.

7.  He was despised by some, verse 27

But some troublemakers said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

The Hebrew calls these “troublemakers” “sons of worthlessness.”  There will always be those who doubt and make no allowance for the call of God or the move of God.  A lot of us, who serve the Lord, find this a reality in our own lives.  We are excited about God or something God has shown us in His Word, but nobody else is!   But this should come as no shock to us; if we have been made partakers of the fellowship of God, then we are also partakers of the sufferings of Christ.  He was made fun of, His teachings ripped and ignored; why should we be treated any differently?   The simple fact is, the more God blesses us and honors us, the closer we get to God, the more some—even within the Body of Christ—will cause trouble for us.

The last sentence in verse 27 is foreboding.  “Saul kept silent” in the face of his critics, so we are told.  Here was a man, full of holy boldness, anointed king, who did not answer his critics.  He should have; he would not have been defending himself, it was really God’s honor being snubbed here.  Why did he not say something?  Was he afraid?  Was his humility really just a mask for fear?   The apostle Peter wrote this—

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  (1 Peter 3:14—16)

Did you catch what Peter admonished his readers to do?   He told them to do two things:

  • In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  In other words, “anoint” Christ as Lord in your heart.  He anointed you; you must anoint Him.  As Christians, we all must set Christ on the throne of our hearts.
  • Always be prepared to give an answer.  When we are besieged by troublemakers, we must be ready to give an answer.  We owe it to God, we owe to those who are watching us, and we owe it to those troublemakers.

Saul had remained quiet when confronted.  This opened the doorway to trouble that could never be shut.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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