I Samuel 13 Part 1–Saul, Off to a Rough Start…

Saul was confirmed by the people, as well as anointed by God.  As the new King, he and his son began to make a name for themselves and for Israel. Jonathan attacked an outpost and Saul made sure everyone knew Israel on the attack.  In the reading, however, there is nothing that indicates that God told Saul to attack, to put his troops together, or to trumpet his victory.  Those all seem to be Saul’s ideas.  The result was Saul angered the Philistines.  Philistia put together its army, and the army looked like an ocean compared to a pond of Israel’s troops.
 
SO, Saul called for everyone to come back and prepare for battle. Instead, when the troops saw what they were facing, they ran and hid and some even deserted the army.  Saul saw things getting away from him, so he took matters into his own hands and did the pre-battle sacrifices and prayers–the priest’s job.  When Samuel appeared, he was not pleased.  Saul started and continued the entire scenario without once seeking God, His leadership or His prophet.  Make no mistake–Saul meant well.  He was trying to be a great king and establish his name as leader. The problem was God would never honor a king that operated on his own, and without God’s direction.
 
In our lives, so many times, we start off on a journey of our own making–never seeking God’s direction. As we progress, we look for ways to make a name for ourselves–without God’s direction.  Then when things grow tense, we wait for God to jump in.  When God  does not swoop in and save us, we forge ahead, on our own and without God’s direction. We mean well, but in the end, we make a mess of things and rob ourselves of God’s blessing.  Our first step should be to seek God’s direction.  We must allow God to lead, and allow him to have the glory.We need not make a name for ourselves, we need to glorify the name for God. He promises that if we will seek Him and trust Him–then He will lead and bless us. It is a daily choice.  Help me, Lord to seek You first and allow You to call the shots!
 
God Bless You

Saul was thirty[a] years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-[b] two years.

Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.

Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand[c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited sevendays, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

I Samuel 12–Samuel’s Farewell Address

God gave Israel what they asked for. He gave them a king.  But He was not about to do so without making clear that Israel’s choice, (to be like everyone else), was the ultimate rejection of God.  He called them to be holy–separate from everyone else. But throughout the history of Israel, they turned aside from God time after time.  When they did so, they fell into captivity and were treated horribly.  They would then return to God and He would deliver them. Sadly, once free, they would return to their wicked ways and God would once again pull back.

God saw that giving Israel a king put power into the hands of a leader that could easily lead them away from Him.  The king would also take their freedom and make them subject to his will not God’s. The people began to grasp how they had destroyed a great gift–true freedom, by taking a king.  Samuel encouraged them–he let them know that God would not abandon them despite their rejection of Him. He was clear, however, that If the king or the people walked away from God, then the nation would be on its own.

The same holds true for us. God wants to lead us and keep us free. Daily pressures are constantly drawing us away from the very One that can free us.  We are often looking for a quick fix to make things easier rather than looking for God’s lead to make things better.  Like Israel, we are constantly looking around at what others have; rather than looking to God to see what he has planned for us.  God will not share the throne. Either we choose to follow Him, or we choose to abandon Him–He allows either. Simply put, if we choose to follow the Lord–our lives will be full, meaningful and purposeful. If we abandon Him, we will have what the rest of the world has–chaos and madness!

God Bless You

Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”

“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”

“He is witness,” they said.

Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.

“After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

“But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. 10 They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal,[a] Barak,[b] Jephthah and Samuel,[c] and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety…“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”18 Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.

19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.

I Samuel 11 Part 2–Look at the King WE Picked

People are funny.  Here, Israel was so concerned about Samuel’s sons’ corruption, that they demanded to have a king.  God provided them the coolest king–tall, dark and handsome. Then, as Samuel anointed Saul, several leaders said in effect–“He ain’t my king!” Then the Ammonites started terrorizing the people and Saul, with God’s power, led Israel to a great victory! Now everybody was on board. It was time to throw a party.  The people were so proud of themselves–“Look at this great King WE picked!” In the land, there was great celebration. 

Israel had no idea what they were choosing.  As they submitted to God’s leadership, He blessed them, protected them, provided for them and made them a nation to be reckoned with. Now, they had a king. If they submitted to the king, he would lead them but, he would also make pretty difficult demands upon them, their families and their possessions. If they failed to submit–well that would be treason and they would die. Kings did not possess the grace and mercy that God possessed. God loved them like His kids. A King treated them like his subjects. 

The saddest part of living independent from the Lord is that God is the only leader that longs for us to be free. God has no personal agenda, separate from seeing us have a great life.  He needs nothing from us, and He only  wants what is best FOR us. Both then and now–God simply wants to be in relationship with His own.  That is why Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of GOD and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33. The Lord still offers to be our King, and by following the Lord, we can truly experience freedom as it is meant to be!

God Bless You

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

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

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.”15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul 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.

I Samuel 11–Saul Musters an Army

Israel was in need of leadership.  While it was still God that truly protected them, and it had been Samuel that led them, they were not following. So at their request, God gave them a king.  The Ammonites did not much care, however, and their leader was disgracing Israel a tribe at a time.  They were now threatening Saul’s tribe–big mistake! Saul, when he heard the threat, felt the spirit of the Lord come over him–He was angry, not just ticked, but–Saul literally was feeling the anger of the Lord. He made clear by God’s power that it was time for Israel to comer together.  And when they did–there were 330,000 troops.  They entered the Ammonite camp and slaughtered them from night until mid day. There were few survivors and those who escaped, left alone.  There was no opportunity to regroup. and there was no more Ammonite threat.
 
Under God’s leadership, His chosen will be protected and provided for.  If we are willing to trust and follow the Lord, He will bless us and lead us through life’s challenges. He will even use the challenges of our lives to draw us closer to Him.  We must, however, seek God and allow His spirit to guide us. When we do that, amazing things begin to happen.  Saul was just a farmer. He had no formal training as king–yet, as he relied upon God to lead him; King Saul saw great success.  Joshua said it best–“Choose this day whom you will serve…As for me and my house, we will Serve the Lord!” Joshua 24:15
 
God Bless You

But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”

The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”

When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? 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 powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 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.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.

They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”

11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

1 Samuel 10 Part 2–“King Saul the 1st”

When Saul left Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart.  He took a young man that was content to be a farmer and made him the leader of His people–the nation of priests. It was only fitting that the first thing that Saul did as king of Israel was to stand and prophesy with a group of prophets–What an obvious sign that this man was not the same guy that left home to look for livestock.  Still, When it came time to reveal Saul to the nation, He hid.  Saul did not want all the fanfare–even though he knew he was God’s pick for king.
 
It is important to note, God chose a cool king. He was tall, handsome and just looked king like.  He came from the smallest clan of the smallest tribe; and, apart from being tall dark and handsome–He really did not have kingly credentials–sounds like every person God used in the Bible.  Saul was about to have the opportunity to lead a nation as Moses did. He would clearly be the king–but, if he would trust God, he would have the best kingdom on earth.
 
God never set out to punish Israel with giving them a king. God simply knew the eventual outcome. Despite that, God still loved and cared for Israel. He would love to lead Saul while Saul led the people;  and so the royal lineage in Israel began–Long live King Saul the 1st.
 
God Bless You

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?”

12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.

14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?”

“Looking for the donkeys,” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”

15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”

16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”

20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot.21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken.Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found.22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen?There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.

26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

1 Samuel 10 Part 1–Samuel Anoints a King

It was no small thing to be anointed as Israel’s 1st King. Still, Saul, the farmer’s son was simply out looking for his dad’s livestock, (and not having any luck…). So when God’s prophet anointed Saul as king of Israel, there was no fanfare, no parade. Fox and NBC were not on site. It was a small and very private ceremony. I am sure that as Saul stood looking at Samuel he was a bit peeved when the prophet poured oil over his head. Still, what happened that day was the beginning of a change in Israel that would lead to the redemption of the world.
 
After the anointing, Samuel sent Saul on his way home. He warned Saul though that his life was about to change. once the Spirit of the Adonai filled him, Saul would be changed for life.  It is important to note that in those times, that the Holy spirit was only active in prophet’s, priests and now kings.  They were God’s intermediaries for the people.  That is why it was critical that those people be above reproach.  Saul would be the 1st King anointed–So what he did and what he became would impact what happened with his nation.
 
In our lives, we have been given the same gift that Saul would enjoy. The Holy Spirit does indwell us–as children of God.  Acts 1:8, “ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  We receive the spirit as a guide, comforter, teacher and lead.  As we seek the Lord, that lead carries us through life’s greatest challenges and opportunities.  We have to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leadership, and follow the Lord with humility and a grateful heart.  That is what the prophet’s, the great King’s and the devoted priests did.  Jesus said it best, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33  Let’s seek the Lord, and allow the Spirit to lead so we can be like a King!
 
God Bless You

Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?[a] When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’

“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship 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.

“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.”

I Samuel 9 Part 1–Israel Get’s their King

The people wanted a cool king, one that looked good that was powerful and would lead them–like all the other kings.  God heard their cry.  He found a young man among the tribe of Benjamin named Saul. Saul was the tallest and most handsome man in Israel.  So God told Samuel that He would send Saul Samuel’s way, and that Samuel was to anoint Saul as King.  Saul was not from any royal lineage–because until then, Israel had no such a thing.  So, as God was choosing a king–He could choose anyone. So He used the people’s standard–tall, strong and handsome. Israel had no idea what they were asking for, but, God was fine to give it to them.
 
In our lives, we often think we have things all figured out.  We call on God to make our plan a reality.  God is patient and kind. In that, He will often not give us what we think we need–instead God will give us what we truly need. Still, there are other times when God will warn us of a danger, but, then allow us to execute our plan. As we do, He also allows us to experience the consequence of the plans we made.  It is often difficult, sad and painful. Still in the midst of it, God loves us and will walk through the path with us–knowing we have made a mess.  We must never be afraid to admit we tried to take the thrown and repent.  We also must listen and seek the Lord; so, we can follow His plan and not ours.
 
God Bless You
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…

But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”

Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”

The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel[a] of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)

10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was.

11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?”

12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”

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.”

18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”