1 Samuel 10:1-16
V. 9 is stunning... "When he (Saul) turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart." This is what Jesus talks about in John 3 when he tells Nicodemus that to be saved "you must be born again."
This is a description of the doctrine of regeneration taking place, whereby a spiritual change is wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which our inherent resistance to God is changed so that we can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His will.
And in this verse we just the sovereign grace of God to give Saul a new heart that was responsive to Him rather than resistant to Him. God just transforms this man who He chose and appointed to be King in Israel. Saul did nothing here to earn or deserve this. He did not nothing to cause or manufacture it. God just powerfully intervened to make him alive where he was dead. And immediately, Saul finds himself among prophets, and filled with Spirit to himself prophecy.
This is just another text that highlights the incredible mercy of God to do for us and in us what we cannot do for ourselves. I wonder if you in touch with God's grace to you in this way.
- Have you received a new heart from God? A heart tender to him, responsive to him, and alive to him? If so, let's humbly acknowledge that gift and fight every impulse to claim any credit for the new life God has created in us and is continuin to produce in us.
One other brief insight from v. 16... Saul doesn't share everything that Samuel told him. It clearly says that "about the matter of the kingdom," Saul didn't say anything to his uncle. I've learned over the years that not everything God speaks to us is to be shared with others. Many things God shows us are just for us and our knowleldge, understanding, wisdom, encouragement or perspective. Whenever God reveals something to us, before assuming that it should be shared openly and immediately, we have seek the Lord about it. We have to be patient and discerning about:
- Whether we are to share it with anyone else?
- If so, who are we to share it with?
- If so, When are we to share it with them?
- Allowing for the possibility that God just wants us to pray accordingly, to trust in and wait on Him.
V. 12, 22 and 26 all relate to listening and learning from others. Humility = teachability. Pride assumes I have it figured out, I'm right, my instincts are right, my gut is entirely trustworthy, and I don't have anything or much to learn. Humility recognizes that I always have much to learn. Humility recognizes and seeks out the wisdom in others. Humility studies the lives of others to learn and grow and wisdom.
Who are you listening to, observing and learning from in a significant way?
What have you been learning most recently from them?
1 Samuel 10:17-27
We see the humanity of Saul in this passage, avoiding the spotlight, fearful of what God was calling him to, seemingly overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility. And yet chosen by God. God chooses the weak things in the world to shame the strong. It is not our strength and fortitude that God desires from us, but our weakness and neediness.
And Saul hadn't even done anything yet. Still, we see the hearts of some men knit to his and their loyalty immediately is deep. Then we see other men, "worhtless fellows" who immediately despised him for the Lord's calling on his life.
Brothers and sisters, when God calls someone we are called and placed in a new family and new people become part of our lives because of God's hand on our lives. But we also will find opposition everywhere we go. We must be prepared, whether we are a king known by all or a servant known by none, that our set apartness to God will put us in the crosshairs for some. People will despise us just for believing and thinking differently, for having a different moral standard, a different purpose and worldview. People in the world hating or despising us does not mean we're bad Christians... it may ust mean we're real Christians. Don't fear criticism or feel alone in being despised for the sake of God's hand and call on your life. Everyone who has followed Jesus seriously has been despised by some. Our comfort is that God himself delights in us, and his opinion matters far more than any foolish and sinful man.
There isn't really anything overtly about pride and humility and in this chapter, but I was really struck by v. 10 this morning, "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." We live in times of such affluence, earthly comfort and entitlement that I do believe our strength is small culturally. We seem to respond to adversity with little grit and toughness. Instead we medicate with prescriptions, alcohol and drugs; we escape through electronics, media and games; we feed our hyper self-preoccupation through counseling and therapy. I'm not saying that all of this is inherently wrong, I'm just saying that we do live in times of small strength. People faint in all kinds of even limited adversity. I feel like I have some growing up to do... that we have some growing up to do. Maybe it's more generational even than cultural, but there is a lack of emotional, mental and spiritual touchiness and resiliency.
- How do you handle and respond in adversity?
1 Samuel 11
v. 6 tells us that the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul... that is the Spirit of God fell upon him, came upon him, to give him the wisdom, strength and capacity to respond in a desperate situation by supernatural means, not by his natural ability. So everything Saul does in the remaining part of the chapter is by God's Spirit. And Saul's perspective is absolutely one of humble dependence and gratitude. After he defeats the Ammonites, the Israelites are asking around for the guys who questioned the anointing and apointing of Saul as king. They were going to kill those men.
But Saul's heart at this stage was in a humble posture. He steps in to cover those men with the grace embodying King Jesus... he says, essentially, "no, they don't need to be put to death, for today the Lord has worked salvation." Saul, the new king, let's God's deliverance and salvation apply to all of Israel. He refuses to take credit for what God accomplished through him. He affirms that it was God who won their victory for them and saved them from their enemies and God alone is to get the credit and glory of that. And as a result, all of Israel was renewed and rejoiced.
What a beautiful picture of the gospel... our salvation accomplished through Jesus, by God the Father, for our victory and renewal and rejoicing, by grace. Let's live into that today.
v. 6-7 - Humility is willing to take the low place and refuses to elevate self above it's proper place. These two verses capture really vividly how pride sets us up for embarrassment and humiliation, whereas humility creates space for us to be exalted and honored. Essentially, we have the opportunity to humble ourselves or we have the inevitability of being humiliated. One of the megathemes of the bible is the upside down nature of God's Kingdom and the reality that the low place is the place of blessing.
- Is there any way in which you are grappling for an elevated position or place of honor? In what way can you assume the low place today or this week?
1 Samuel 12
I want to focus on the last 6 verses of this chapter cause they are so interesting to me. Israel's government is transitioning from Judges administrate justice for God as their King, to having an actual human king. And all of the nation is gather for Samuel's farewell address as they make this change, and openly and colectively acknowledge in v. 19 that their desire and demand for a king was evil. Israel's sins were many and varied, and they heaped on those sins the ultimate sin of repudiating and rejecting God as their king. They substituted the Transcendant for the tangible.
Samuel confirms it was evil. This isn't a small thing. This is no mere mistake, error, accident, or slip up. The essence of sin is the diminishing of God and elevating of self or created things, and Israel has openly demanded the removal of God from the throne for a replacement. This is evil at it's core. And we have to think in these biblical, right categories. What's beautiful abou this though, is that having done this evil Samuel still says, "Do not be afraid... Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart."
God's heart has always been predisposed toward forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption and peace. Wherever and whenever the rebellious hearts of man turn to the Lord and from sin and idolatry, God is pleased to receive them and bless them. The God of the Old Testament is not an old, angry, moody and heavy handed God. He is the God of grace and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is the same God whom Jesus reveals perfectly in holiness, humility, glory, grace and sacrificial love. This is our God!
What's also clear here, in v. 22, is that is these things and does these things, not for our self-fulfillment or self-esteem; not for our ego or uplift; not because he needs us to validate him; God is and does these things for the sake of His own Name. God won't forsake his people and will faithfully gather them to himself for the sake of His own Name. Our redemption is not first and foremost about our redemption. Our redemption is first and foremost about God's glory. Our redemption is not an end in itself, it is a means to the greater end of God receiving the glory due Him. God's first concern is God's glory among all peoples.
- How can you make life and walking with Jesus less about you and more about God's glory?
v. 17 isn't about pride overtly, but it strikes me as something I am prone toward because of some savior complex in me. I tend to believe I can fix things, fix people and set things straight. As a pastor I end up involved in other peoples relational struggles by request. But if I don't guard that with humility and respect for others, I can fall into injecting myself into situations, or meddling in peoples lives in ways that aren't helpful and which bring heartache.
We Christians can fall into the trap of thinking we are entitled to speak into any and every situation just because we think we see it clearly or can "bring truth" to bear. A former pastor of mine taught me that Advice Requires Permission (ARP). This is a helpful rule of relationships and community. We have no right to impose ourselves on others, or involve ourselves in their lives or relationships without being asked or receiving permission.
If God gives you a burden for someone or a situation, or if God gives you insight into someone's life or situation, it is not a license to speak into it. It may be just a directive on how you should pray for them. Have enough respect for people and enough realization of your own limitations, to not be intrusive or instructive in other peoples lives without their direct request or permission.