I Samuel 10–God’s Plan for a King

God prepared Saul to be King.  When Israel made clear that they wanted a king, gave them Saul.  But, he did not do it vengefully or as a cruel trick.  He Gave them the King they wanted.  Further, he prepared Saul to be King.  He used Samuel to anoint him and to prepare him for what lied ahead.  He used a series of events for confirmation so that Saul would know this came from God.  Then God poured out his Spirit on Saul so that Saul could lead as God would lead.  He would have God’s wisdom and power at his disposal.  The big difference was that Saul still had his will to choose to heed God’s lead or do his own thing.

Taking God out of the primary spot opened Israel to the frailty of the human spirit. No matter how prepared Saul was to lead, he still had to choose to listen and follow God. We have that same struggle in our lives. When we seek God and allow him to lead, we see his power and his blessing. But we are faced each day with the struggle of choosing to follow him  or our own willful path.  To follow him requires our submission and faith. When we submit and believe him, he will lead us according to his plan.  Help me Lord to follow you and your plan.

God Bless You

“After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

“Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”  As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 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?”

1 Samuel 9 The People’s King

The people’s king—Saul a Benjaminite left to find his father’s donkeys.  But God had a bigger plan.  He led him straight to Samuel and he prepped Samuel to meet the 1st human King of Israel.  He was the perfect pick from man’s point of view.  Tall, Strong and Handsome.  He was a good kid that was concerned for his Father and his father’s stock.  He was a strong warrior and was not a male Diva.  But, he was not God.  That was the point.  The people of Israel were ready to trade their life of freedom following their heavenly father—for following a good man.  While that choice does not sound horrific on its face, it is horrific.  It is horrific because there simply is no good second choice other than following god.

In our lives, we often are faced with the challenge of choosing between God and Good.  They seem so close.  They are only a letter apart…BUT!!!!! That difference is the beginning of the end of close fellowship with the Lord. It always starts with a slight deviation but, then like a snowball, as it progresses it moves more quickly and grows more giant and out of control.  We are simply not capable of dabbling in idol worship.  When we begin to replace God, we quickly replace him completely.  We embrace things we once abhorred.  We overlook things we used to stand against.  No one wakes up one day and says I want to disassociate from God—it is a slow progression that requires great pain and change to reverse.  It is simply best and easiest to seek him and him only.  Simple, freeing and complete.

Do Not Replace God With ANYONE or ANYTHING!

God Bless You

9 There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else…14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”

17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”

I samuel 8 part 2–Beware for What You Wish…

When you place your desires over common sense, nothing good can ever come from it.  The Israelites were slaves for 400 years.  Then God freed them.  He gave them the best lands in the Middle East, but they were afraid to claim it. He led them as nomads for 40 years, providing the very food they ate, the daily direction and schedule and the understanding of who he was and who they were as his chosen people.  He led the into the promised land and helped them take it as their own. He continued to bless them as they humbly followed him.  Then, they decided they needed a king just like everyone else.  He then patiently told them the cost of serving a king rather than serving him, they simply did not care.

In our lives, we are often faced with similar choices.  When, in those choices, we ignore God and do what we want, the repercussions can be devastating. We lose our freedom, our blessing and our protection from the Lord.  We, like everyone else, become mired in the trappings of life and the lies of the world.  We willingly give away the gifts God has given us. Once we choose in earnest to follow anyone other than God our lives will crumble.  Again—If we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, lean not on our own understanding, acknowledge him in all our ways, then he will make our paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

 Help me, Lord to follow you and you only.

God Bless You

 

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

 

I Samuel 8 “King”

Our lives work best when we follow God as our leader.  This is true personally, as a family, as a church and as a nation.  It really is a simple concept—“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matt 6:33 .  Sadly, we are always looking for a substitute to lead.  It was the same with Israel.  They had followed God out of Egypt, but, through the years looked to others to lead.  In the last years, God provided a number of judges to lead—Samuel was the last.  He served God and had an amazing relationship with him that provided a wonderful time of peace for Israel.  In that peace, Israel started looking for a replacement.  Israel wanted a King—Just like everyone else. It crushed Samuel, but what’s worse, it crushed the Lord. God knew that following a king really meant not following him.

In our lives, when we remain faithful and focused upon God, he works all things together for Good.  He walks through trials with us and protects and provides for us.  As he does, we are often tempted to look for another leader.  It may be a pastor, an author or even a civic or Government leader. It just is not God. Whenever we make anyone besides God our leader, we bear a cost that grows worse as the days progress.  Only God can provide peace in Chaos,  Only God can provide joy in trials.  He designed us, redeemed us and wants simply to guide us to freedom and joy. He is the only King we need.

God Bless You   

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

I Samuel 7 Final–Throughout His Lifetime

He served the Lord all the days of his life. Samuel followed the commitment of his mother and served the Lord all the days of his life.  While he led Israel they enjoyed peace and followed the Lord.  What a huge commentary about Godly leaders. The people of Israel followed the pattern of their leader.  He was committed, so they were committed.  He walked with God and so they walked with God.  The judges of Israel did not lead that way and literally brought the nation to an all time low.  Now with Samuel, they again enjoyed peace and growth as a nation as he did as a leader.

In our lives and culture, we also have the duty and responsibility to follow God all the days of our lives. If we remain committed to him ad walk humbly with him–we too can experience peace and protection.  We as a nation also need to commit and follow him.  If we had Godly leaders and if we would repent as a nation, like Israel, we could enjoy peace again. Sadly, the nation follows its leadership and the leadership continues to put distance between God and country.  Please pray for our nation and its leadership and perhaps we can see God return as head of this country.

God Bless You

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[b] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

13 So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. 14 The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

15 Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.

I Samuel 7–From Zero to Hero

In all the great action hero stories, the hero is portrayed as a weak nobody that through some supernatural occurrence becomes unstoppable and invincible and then saves the day.  Well under those parameters, Israel became superheroes.  I can hear the trailer—mild mannered nation of Israel is being bullied by the Philistines—then they find their heavenly father and repent of their sin, dispose of their idols and BAM!!!—they become God’s Mighty Army.  God sends great thunder and earthquakes to panic the enemy and Israel uses their new found power for God to destroy their enemy, free their captives and allow peace to cover their Land…God’s Mighty Army—Living in a Bible near you.

The truth is we all have within us the ability to follow God and allow him to be our warrior.  He will carry us through great battles and show us his loving but mighty hand. When we follow him closely, he cleanses, provides and protects us.  Even in difficult times, he stands with us and strengthens us to face the circumstances  that are ahead. Often, we do not even realize how many amazing things he does for us each day.  But, if we stop and take inventory, it is no less than amazing.  Help me Lord to follow closely and discover thue power of faith and your spirit.

God Bless You

When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[b] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

I Samuel 7 Then they all repented

Like any dad, when Israel truly repented of their wrong doing God forgave them.  When they restored their relationship with him, he was able to once again to provide, protect and bless them.  What a great testimony…”Then ALL the people of Israel turned back to the Lord.”  It is a critical thing to note that God immediately forgave them.  He did not take an attitude of “We’ll See!” He longs to have us follow him in freedom and he knows our heart. He knows when we repent and he accepts us right where we are.

If we as individuals would follow him and submit to his lead—he would lovingly provide and protect us.  If we as a nation would repent as Israel repented—we could ask and he would hear our cry and restore us and heal our land.  But, we would have to all turn back and truly repent, as Israel did. Our nation is greatly suffering the pain of walking away from God.  We need to allow him to regain Lordship of our lives and our nation—Help me Lord to make you my Lord and the Lord of my home.

God Bless You

Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.

Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader[a] of Israel at Mizpah.

When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

I Samuel 6–The Ark Returned

The Philistines were a little more teachable than others of God’s enemies.  As he struck the lives of the captors of the Ark—they realized they had angered God.  As such,  they repented and changed direction.  They assembled a guilt offering and followed the protocol returning the Ark.  The ark once returned was out of the life of Philistines.  One set violated God’s laws and died.  The people of Israel celebrated greatly upon the Ark’s return.

In our lives, we always face the temptation of straying from the Lord.  As we pray and stay in the word—and seek his face, he will guide us and carry us through the difficult times.  If we do struggle and slip away, he calls us to repent and turn around.  He is always ready to welcome us back.  He values repentance and transparency.  If he will relent at the repentance of his enemies, then he will certainly accept us and receive us as we submit to him.  Seek him, follow him and return to him.  He will receive you with love and joy.

God Bless You

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy[a] of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”

 

I Samuel 5–Oh NO You Didn’t

What a mistake.  The Philistines captured the Ark of God.  Little did they realize, that God is not capturable.  God will not be controlled by men. First he disgraced their worthless idol then he afflicted the people. No matter where the enemy tried to control God, he made clear he was not under anyone’s control. It was a devastating lesson for the Philistines.

 We make the same mistake today.  Our Government tries to capture God and eliminate him from our culture.  The more control they exert, the more foolish they become.   God shows he is in control by blessing despite the Government’s attempts.  He has unleashed weather, demonstrated Chaos across the world.  Everywhere we look as God has been removed, the world has fallen apart. His hand is heavy on the nations. We are reaping the harvest of trying to fit him into our little plans. We have to submit to his plan and follow his way in order for us to be blessed by him.

He will not be controlled by the world, he will not be controlled by the church and he will not be controlled by us.  Help me, Lord to simply submit to YOUR control and follow your plan.

 God Bless You

 5 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.[a] When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.

I Samuel 4 part 1–Seek God, not the Ark

Israel had lost its perspective.  They were beaten in battle by the Philistines and decided that if they brought the Ark of God—it would save them.  No one said let’s seek the Lord.  No one said let’s worship and follow God and then he will save us—No, they said let’s bring our symbol of God and IT will save us.  They saw it as a Good Luck Charm.  The enemy actually showed more respect for God than did Israel.  The result was horrific.  Israel lost thousands of men and the very Ark they hoped would save them.

We struggle in our own lives by placing our faith in the things of God—rather than God himself.  We think if we attend church regularly, keep a Bible on the front table, say grace at dinner or act as good people—that will save us and get us into heaven.  Truth is, God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants us to seek and follow him. He wants us to turn from our self-reliance and surrender our hearts to him. Our seeking him and following him is what saves us not the trappings of religion or symbols of our faith. Often, when we rely on the things of God to save us, we will not only miss God but we will lose the value of what we are chasing.  Matthew 6:33 says it best, “Seek first his kingdom and righteousness–and all these other things will be added to you.”

God Bless You

 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”

So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!

“What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked. “The gods have[b] come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents. 11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.