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God Works Through The Every-Day Events Of Our Lives


Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4 So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them. 5  When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”  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?”  8 The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.”  9 (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 went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12  They answered, “He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. 13  As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14  So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.
(1 Samuel 9:3-14)


Today we begin a rather long passage that introduces us to Saul, who will become Israel’s first king. At this point, he is not yet Israel’s king and doesn’t even know that he will become king. In order to make Saul king, God has to hook him up with Samuel, who will anoint Saul as king. To get that to happen, God uses a very common situation that would not have been unusual in Israel at this time.

During the grazing season, animals would roam freely throughout the land. When the grazing season was over, servants would be sent to find the animals and bring them home. The owners would have branded their animals with their own unique mark, making it easy to identify their animals. In this passage, we see that the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father, Kish, were lost so Kish sent Saul and one of the servants to look for the donkeys.

Searching for lost animals was a difficult task that required perseverence. The animals could be anywhere. But Saul is not daunted nor is he afraid of hard work. He obediently obeys his father’s request as he apparently cares for his father as well as the animals.

We also see that Saul isn’t a quitter. He and his servant searched for the donkeys in the hill country of Ephraim and through the area of Shalisa but they did not find them. So they went into the district of ShaalimBut the donkeys were not there. Next, he passed through the territory of Benjamin but, again, they did not find them.

This was a difficult journey. The land that they traversed was hilly and covered a large area. Despite these obstacles, Saul perseveres. Saul cared about his father and doesn’t want him to lose his valuable assets.

As we’ll see in a few days as we progress through this story, Saul will meet Samuel, who will make him king. But notice that the circumstance which leads to these two men meeting is a very common situation – some animals need to be gathered and returned home. When Saul went to look for his father’s donkeys he would have had no idea that he would end up becoming king of Israel. To him, this was just a normal event in his life.

God still works this way today – through the mundane, every-day events that comprise our lives. But people tend to make one of two mistakes regarding how God works through our lives. Sometimes they think that everything that happens to them is a sign from God. While nothing happens without God knowing it or allowing it, not everything that happens to us happens for some deeper purpose.

Other people make the opposite mistake. They don’t look for God at all in their daily circumstances and thereby miss out on blessings and teachings that God wants to bring into their lives.

When the daughter of Pharaoh came down to the river to bathe one day, she had no idea that this common routine would lead her to discover baby Moses who had been floated down the river by his mother to save his life [Exodus 2:1-10]. When David’s father, Jesse, sent his youngest son to the battlefield to bring food to his brothers and to find out how they were doing, he had no idea that he was sending his son into a situation where he would defeat Goliath [1 Samuel 17:17-50].

There are times when God is using the common events of our lives for some purpose of which we are unaware. Events like picking up the kids or grocery shopping. God can use any event for any purpose [Romans 8:28].

Sometimes we find out that purpose, as Saul will. Sometimes we never know that God is working in a particular circumstance in our life [Hebrews 13:2].

Our job is simply to obey and persevere as Saul did. At some point, we may see God’s hand in our circumstances. If not while we’re in the midst of it, perhaps when we look back on it later.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Knows Exactly How We Think


1 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. 2 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.
(1 Samuel 9:1-3)


We just finished studying a passage in 1 Samuel in which the people of Israel demand a king, even after God informed them of the negative ways in which their lives will change if they have one. Unfazed by this information, they continued to insist on a king so God agreed to give them one. Today we meet Saul, the man who will be Israel’s first king.

Saul came from a good family. His father, Kish, was a man of standing. That is, he was influential in his community and therefore we know he was wealthy.

Kish was a Benjamite; he was from the tribe of Benjamin. At this time Benjamin was the smallest tribe in Israel having lost all but 600 of their men after they sided the wicked men of Gibeah and were decimated by the other tribes of Israel [Judges 19-20].

Kish’s son, Saul, was good-looking – as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel. He was also tall – a head taller than anyone else. Saul had all the physical attributes that would make him appealing to the people: he was wealthy, prominent, and attractive.

When we were introduced to Samuel we learned about Samuel’s parents’ strong relationship with God [1 Samuel 1]. But notice that no such mention is made of Saul (or his father). Kish and his family were wealthy and well-known. But they apparently were not very, if at all, religious.

The people of Israel had demanded a king. But they did not choose the man who would be their king [1 Samuel 8:5]. Instead, it was God who was going to choose their king for them.

Israel was not living under a democracy. They didn’t get to vote on their leaders. Those leaders were appointed by God and they would remain in power as long as God wanted.

Since they had no choice in who their first king would be, the people would have no authority to remove him. A fickle population would want to change kings when things start to go downhill. God doesn’t give Israel that option. Instead, they will have to live with their decision so they learn the pitfalls of human leadership.

This is a great example of how God, our heavenly father, operates. He will often give us what we want knowing that it is not what we need. But He gives it to us so we will (hopefully) learn a lesson about life, about ourselves, and about Him.

At this time Israel was comprised of several independent tribes that weren’t getting along so smoothly. Choosing the first king from one of the larger tribes might incite jealousy among the others. So God chose Israel’s first king from Benjamin, the smallest of the tribes. Considering what had recently happened to the tribe of Benjamin, they would also have the sympathy vote from among their fellow Israelites.

And since the Philistines were still a thorn in Israel’s side, Israel needed a leader who could lead military battles [1 Samuel 9:16]. The tribe of Benjamin was also known for their warlike ability. In fact, Jacob (aka Israel) recognized this about his youngest son centuries before [Genesis 49:27].

God didn’t want Israel to have a king. But if they were going to have one, He was going to give them one who could do good things for them, like rescue them from the Philistines.

But He was also going to give them one based on their own criteria – tall and handsome and from a family that was more interested in material wealth than they were in spiritual issues.

God knows our hearts and minds. He knows exactly how we think and how we evaluate potential leaders. We esteem those who are good-looking, wealthy and who don’t have a very strong relationship to God (or who at least don’t talk about it).

But as we’ll see once Saul becomes king, relying on such superficial criteria won’t raise up the kind of leaders we need.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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It’s Wise To Heed God’s Advice


19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
(1 Samuel 8:19-22)


Today we read that Samuel went to the Lord for the second time, telling Him all the words of the people who had again demanded a king [1 Samuel 8:19-20]. And God told Samuel, for the third time, to obey their voice and make them a king.

It’s not that God was pleased with their request. He was not. He knew, as did Samuel, that the demand the people were making – to have a human king rule over them – was a bad idea. Having a king would create more problems than it would solve. But the people weren’t thinking that rationally.

They were only thinking of the alleged positive aspects of having a king. Even after hearing all the negative ways their lives would change as a result of having a king the people were undeterred. They stubbornly refused to listen to God’s advice.

So God decided to give them exactly what they wanted in order to show them it was exactly what they didn’t want. This is an important principle about God that we need to understand.

God certainly loves to give His children good things [James 1:17]. But sometimes God will give us something that is bad for us out of His love for us. He does this to teach us that we are better off without such a thing and to also teach us that He knows best: we should listen to His advice.

God only wants the best for us [Jeremiah 29:11; John 10:10; 3 John:1-2]. And He will constantly try to give it to us. But if we’re not wise enough to take it He won’t force it on us. Instead, He’ll give us what we think we want thereby providing us the regretful opportunity to learn the hard way that what we wanted wasn’t really as good as we thought it would be.

Wise people think their ideas through [Luke 14:28-32]. They look at the pros and cons. If the cons outweigh the pros, they wisely decide not to move forward. Only a fool would continue with a plan that was destined to fail.

Sometimes we have our heart set on something and are so enamored with the idea that we don’t see the pitfalls in front of us. It is at times like this that we need the counsel of someone who knows more than we do and who is not so emotionally attached to the situation.

Wise people are humble. They realize they may not have all the answers. So they seek out and heed the advice of those who know more than they [Proverbs 12:15; 19:20; 14:16; 1:5; 1:20-23 et. al].

And there is no wiser counsel than God [Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 1:7 et. al]. God gave Israel the advice they needed to hear. But they ignored it, thinking they knew better. So God let them have their way.

There was no more need for discussion so Samuel sent every man back to his own city. Israel was going to get their king. And they were going to regret it.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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We Have All We Need In God


19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
(1 Samuel 8:19-22)


Yesterday we learned that Israel wanted a king to rule over them so they could be like all the other nations. They saw the kings that the nations around them had and likewise wanted a similar king for themselves.

They wanted a king to judge them (correct their mistakes and resolve their disputes) and who would go out before them and fight their battles. What they didn’t realize was they already had a leader who did those things in God Himself.

Beginning at the exodus, God had been leading Israel [Exodus 13:21]. After Israel was settled in the Promised Land, God appointed human judges such as Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. These judges would lead Israel in battles against their oppressive enemies such as the Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites among others [Judges 3:12-14, 4:1-3 et. al].

Furthermore, God Himself would often directly fight Israel’s battles for them. Shortly before Israel demanded a king, God miraculously defeated the Philistines [1 Samuel 7:10-11]. But apparently the people of Israel – and more astonishingly, their leaders – had forgotten all this.

Israel already had a king. They had the perfect king in God Himself. But they did not want God to lead them. They wanted a human being to lead them. Sounds just like today, doesn’t it?

In our modern world, people have rejected the notion of God and instead place their hopes and trust in human leaders be they government officials, business leaders, or entertainers. The sad part of all this is, just like ancient Israel, people are spurning the best for a much more inferior substitute.

This is, of course, nothing new. Israel rejected God in favor of a human king. Centuries later they would reject Jesus as their savior and king declaring that they had no king other than the human – and incredibly cruel – Caesar [John 19:15].

Rather than accept the benevolent leadership of God and His Son, the human race would rather be led by less-than-perfect, often-cruel, and certainly-flawed human leaders. The two major candidates in this year’s presidential election in the United States are prime examples.

The truth is we could not ask for anything more than God’s love, power, concern, and wisdom. In God we have all that we could possibly need [2 Peter 1:3]. With God there is nothing lacking. And He’s more than willing to give it all to us… if we want it [Psalm 16:5-9].

God will not force Himself on people. He gives us the ability and freedom to choose. We can accept Him or reject Him. Sadly, the vast majority of the human race has chosen to reject Him and does so more and more with the passage of time. As Jesus told us, only a very few of all the people who ever live will accept Him [Matthew 7:13-14].

One of the Old Testament names for God is Jehovah-Jireh – “the Lord who provides” or, more literally, “the Lord who will see to it”. God will see to it that all of our needs are met [Genesis 22:12-14].

God provides forgiveness. He provides healing. He redeems. He offers perfect wisdom. He protects [Psalm 23:1, 103:2-5; Psalm 91; James 1:5]. And so much more.

God provides all we could ever need [Philippians 4:19]. There’s no reason to look anywhere else.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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There Is Joy & Reward In Living A Unique Life


19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
(1 Samuel 8:19-22)


The people of Israel wanted a king. So they approached Samuel and asked him to appoint a king over them [1 Samuel 8:4]. Samuel, being distraught over this request, took the matter to God who told Samuel to inform the people how their lives would change if they had a king [1 Samuel 8:5-18].

But the people refused to listen to this logic and continued to demand that there shall be a king over them. They did not care about the burdens that would be placed upon them. They didn’t care about the financial cost of having a king. All they wanted was to be like other nations.

God never wanted this for Israel. God wanted Israel to be unique among all the nations [Deuteronomy 7:6]. God’s intention was to make Israel a great nation so that they, in turn, would be a blessing to all the other nations [Genesis 12:2].

This was God’s plan to save the world. People would learn about Him through Israel because Israel would be unique. Israel would have unique customs and they would receive unique blessings (and punishments) from God.

This uniqueness would call attention to Israel and make other people curious. That curiosity would lead people to learn about God and their sinful nature, from which they could be forgiven through Jesus. God would use Israel to offer salvation from sin to the entire world.

At least that was the plan.

But Israel didn’t want to be unique. They compared other nations to themselves and thought those nations had it better than they did. Rather than being glad about the uniqueness God had blessed them with, they wanted to blend in.

And that would mean they would no longer stand out and could not be the conduit through which God reached the world (at least not to the original extent God intended).

The same is true to today of Christians. Now that we are living under the New Testament it is Christians who are to be the ones through whom the world learns about Jesus. And for Christians to be successful at this then they, like ancient Israel, must be unique. We must stand out.

But, sadly, like ancient Israel too many Christians don’t want to experience God’s unique blessings. They too want to be like the world around them. They want the big house with granite countertops. They want the corner office and huge salary. They want the BMW and vacations in Hawaii.

When Christians live like the rest of the world we give the impression that worldly things are as important – or maybe more important – than eternal things. But, of course, this is not true.

All Christians should live with their eyes and lives focused on eternity [Colossians 3:2]. The world lives as if what is on this earth is all there is. And that will lead to their destruction [Philippians 3:19]. Followers of Jesus are not to live like this.

We are not to gather worldly possessions or experiences. We are to forsake these in exchange for eternal treasures [Matthew 6:19-20]. We are to be the extreme of “light” in a world of “darkness” as we learned when we studied the Gospel of Matthew. If we do, the world will take notice and will come to know Jesus.

The problem is that if we do this, not only will the world take notice but they will often ridicule. And no one enjoys being made fun of. But the only way to bring about change is to be different. One who is like everyone else cannot lead others to a different place.

One who is like everyone else cannot lead others to a different place. Christians who want to be like the non-believing world around them will not lead anyone to heaven. They will only lead people to hell.

Rather we should live the unique lives God calls us to. Not only will this have an eternal effect on the lives of others, but it will be more enjoyable than living life as a clone.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Provides All The Information We Need To Make Informed Choices


10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of 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 orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
(1 Samuel 8:10-18)


After explaining to the people in yesterday’s passage how the king they want will behave, God gives them a final warning today. He tells them that when all those happen they will be unhappy.

They will be so unhappy that they will cry out – they will ask God to fix the situation. But He will not. When they do cry out to Him He will not answer them.

This is not a matter of a spiteful God ignoring His people plight. This is a matter of a loving God teaching His people that decisions have consequences. The people had chosen for themselves to have a king. And it would be because of that king that they would be unhappy.

When that time came they would have to learn to deal with the situation and learn from it. God wasn’t going to accept any complaints from a fickle people who had gotten from Him exactly what they wanted.

God has warned them. He has told them, through Samuel, what it will be like to have a human king. It isn’t going to be all pomp and circumstance, as they think. It will require some great sacrifices on their part.

They hadn’t thought it through. They saw only the outward extravagance of foreign kings. They didn’t see all the work that went on behind the scenes and all the sacrifices the people of these foreign countries had to make to support a human government.

Up until now, with God leading them, Israel didn’t have to make such sacrifices. God has provided what they need when they needed it. He raised up judges at the appropriate time and fought against foreign armies on Israel’s behalf. With a permanent human ruler, things would be different.

If they continue with this decision after hearing what their future holds they will have no one to blame but themselves when that future becomes their reality.

God wants us to be knowledgeable and to make informed decisions. He doesn’t want us to whine to get the things we want only to complain when we get those things and they don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

Information creates responsibility. It also creates accountability. By not responding to the people’s certain future complaints about their king, God would be holding the people accountable for their actions. He’d be teaching them that if a similar situation should ever arise again – one in which they wanted something God did not want for them – they should pay more attention to His admonitions.

God is all about growing us. God did not create us to live passive lives in which He grants all our wishes and magically undoes the mess we make of our lives while we lie on the couch all day and take no responsibility. He allows us to control our own lives by making our own decisions.

Sometimes God will prevent us from having what we think we want. Other times He’ll let us have it, knowing it is not what we need so that we can learn. God uses all things for our good [Romans 8:28].

Israel had all the information they needed to make an informed choice. Yet, as we’ll see tomorrow, they will choose the thing they should not.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Is A Giving Leader, Not A Demanding One


10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of 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 orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
(1 Samuel 8:10-18)


In today’s passage, Samuel relays all the words from God to the people about how the king they were asking for would act. It had always been God’s plan to appoint a king over Israel [Genesis 17:6, 16; 35:11]. But the people were impatient. They wanted a king before they were ready for one. And they wanted a king for the wrong reasons – to be like the nations around them.

God is going to let them have the king they wanted. He will be a man of their choosing, not God’s. And therefore, he will not be the kind of ruler God would have provided for them.

But in the process, God will teach the people a lesson about true leadership and, more importantly, about His leadership. So in today’s passage, God forwarned the people about how their king will behave, giving them a chance to change their minds.

Once Israel has the king they want, life will never be the same. Under God’s system of judges, there was no standing army to maintain or royal palace to support. There were no advisors to be paid or staff to be hired. The entire system was informal and inexpensive.

But a king requires support. He will need a standing army which in turn needs supplies. The men for the army and their supplies will have to come from the people. The king will conscript their sons into his army and their daughters will become his servants. The best of the people’s fields, vineyards, and orchards will have to be given to support the government.

The people will have to give up some of their male and female servants and animals to the king. They will have to give up a tenth of their flocks. Overall, the nation would have to make a big sacrifice to have a king that was like the kings of other nations.

Notice how many times God tells the people that their king will “take” but never once tells them that he will “give”.

Human leaders take. They don’t give. Outwardly they may appear to be working for the people’s best interests. But underlying their decisions is a need to secure their own current administration and future legacy.

Contrast that with God. God leads by giving. He gave His only Son so that those who believe in Him would have eternal life [John 3:16]. Jesus Himself did not come to be served but to serve [Matthew 20:28].

The people of Israel thought that having a big government would provide them with certain benefits. And it would. It would protect them from foreign invasion and it would provide a public display of power. But all that comes at a cost. In the end, the king would not serve them; they would be his slaves.

People today still think that our problems could be solved through human leadership rather than turning to the Lord [1 Samuel 8:7]. We think that a certain political candidate, if elected, will be the solution to our problems. But that never happens. Our problems don’t go away. They only multiply no matter who is in office.

God is the only answer to our problems. He is our king. He is not a taker but a giver.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God May Give Us What We Want To Show Us It’s Not What We Need


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Over the past few days we’ve been studying a passage in which the people of Israel demand to have a king rule over them because the nations around them had kings.

Up until this point the people of Israel lived freely without any centralized form of human government. Occasionally God raised up judges like Deborah, Gideon, and Samuel to addressed issues the nation was facing. These judges would communicate with God to get the perfect solution to their problems.

In this way the government of Israel was a theocracy. Their laws and direction came directly from God, who see all and knows all and who gives perfect guidance.

But the people of Israel were not content with this form of government. They didn’t want human leaders who were humble and who didn’t call attention to themselves. They wanted a leader like the nations around them had: who lived in opulence and who lead armies and who was well-known.

God told Samuel to obey their voice. He did this not because their request was good or right but because God knew they would not change their minds. If they did not get the king they wanted they might start a rebellion against Samuel and that might destroy the nation.

So God grants their request, even though He knows it is not in their best interests, in order to show them that what they desire is not good for them. In fact, He tells Samuel to solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.

Notice that Samuel was to “solemnly” warn the people. God knew this was not a good idea. He knew that it would not end well for the people of Israel.

God knows the hearts of men. He knows how human rulers are. He knows it now. He knew it back in Samuel’s day. God knew that the king who was going to rule over Israel was not going to be the leader the people needed. Yet He acquiesced and gave them what they wanted.

Israel had been rejecting God for years [1 Samuel 8:8]. This request for a king was more of the same. God was their king. But they were not satisfied with that arrangement.

Similarly today, Jesus is to be the Lord of our lives. But many people don’t allow Him to be. Of course, those who are not Christians don’t have Jesus as their Lord. But many born-again Christians do not allow Jesus to be the Lord of their life either. They allow their careers or spouses or reputation or money rule over them.

God will not stop us from doing this. He will let us go down such a path for the same reason He let ancient Israel have a king: to let us learn for ourselves that such decisions are not in our best interest.

Ideally we would learn the best way to live through Scripture and prayer. But we don’t. Rather than learn the easy way we have to learn the hard way – by getting what we want and experiencing the consequences.

To that end, God will let us have what we want in order to show us it is not what we need. The path to that realization will be much tougher than if we just do things God’s way from the start as Israel will find out when they get their king.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Don’t Take Rejection Personally


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Samuel was not in a position to grant the elders’ request. This was a decision that only God could make. So Samuel took the matter to God in prayer, as we read yesterday. And God’s decision was for Samuel to obey the voice of the people. God decided to give Israel the king they wanted even though, as we’ll see, this was not what they needed.

But notice that it wasn’t just the elders who wanted a king. The elders were the ones who approached Samuel. But they apparently did so at the behest of the people they represented. This was a grass roots movement. It wasn’t just a few old men who wanted to get rid of Samuel. It was pretty much everyone.

Samuel was displeased with their request because he knew that the people were making a big mistake in requesting a king [1 Samuel 8:6]. Having been the leader of Israel for a few decades, he apparently thought that he had not done a good job of leading if, after all that time, the people were making such a sinful request.

But God consoles Samuel and lets him know that the people had not rejected him, but they had rejected God from being king over them. Samuel need not feel that he was a failure or had let God down. After all, this was nothing new. From the day God brought them up out of Egypt they had forsaken God.

When Moses was up on Mount Sinai longer than they expected, the people decided to make a golden calf and declare it their god [Exodus 32:1-6]. Shortly thereafter when they heard about the Canaanites in the Promised Land, they turned against Moses and Aaron and refused to go into the land [Numbers 14:1-4].

Despite all the good things God had done for Israel , they kept turning away from Him in favor of other gods [Numbers 14:11]. All the efforts of leaders like Moses and Samuel to lead the people to God were not always successful.

Even though the people did not want Samuel’s leadership, God told Samuel not to take it personally. Nor should we.

When Christians try to talk to others about Jesus we will often be rejected. When we try to set an example through out lifestyle we will often be ignored or even ridiculed. But we should not take such responses personally. For it is not us they are rejecting, ignoring, or ridiculing. It is God.

In fact, we should be glad and not discouraged or ashamed if we are insulted because of our faith [1 Peter 4:14,16]. Such afflictions are momentary and will result in eternal glory [2 Corinthians 4:17].

As long as we are doing and saying what God wants us to do and say we should not be discouraged when people don’t respond or, worse, respond harshly. For it is not our message that they are rejecting but God’s. For this reason it is very important that we do and say only those things that God wants us to do and say. And to do that we need to know our Bibles.

We need to know correct doctrine. We need to know the kind of life God wants us to live and then we must live it. We cannot have secret sins that will someday get exposed. We have to walk the talk. As long as we are doing that, we can have confidence that we are accurately representing God on this earth and that any rejection of us is really a rejection of Him [Psalm 69:9].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Some Decisions Are Out Of Our Jurisdiction


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Yesterday we saw that Samuel was saddened when the elders came to him and asked him to appoint a king for them. He realized that they were making a big mistake – they weren’t satisfied with what God had provided for them. They instead wanted what the world had. That is never a good decision and Samuel knew it.

Samuel was the spiritual leader of Israel. Yet he was not qualified to grant the elders’ request. It was not for him to decide what type of leadership Israel should have. And he knew that. Faced with this grave situation, Samuel did the only thing he could.  He prayed to the Lord.

It’s interesting that we don’t read that the elders ever prayed about their request. As we’ve learned, this was a period in Israel’s history when people did not have a relationship God. They were doing whatever they wanted to do [Judges 21:25]. They did not seek God and His wisdom.

Many decisions we make in life are minor and have no spiritual consequences like what to eat for dinner or what color to paint our bedroom. But there are also times in life when we are confronted with a situation that does have spiritual consequences. In those cases, we don’t have the capacity to decide as we can’t see the future. Nor do we have the jurisdiction to decide. Such decisions belong to God and we need to seek His guidance on such matters.

This is where many of us go wrong. Of course those who don’t even believe in God never approach Him for direction for their lives. This is understandable. But many people who claim to be (and who likely are) part of God’s eternal family also rarely, if ever, seek His wisdom.

Instead we rely on our own understanding, which is certainly heavily influenced by the world’s values. Or we seek the advice of friends or famous people who know no more than we do, if that much. This is sad because God will grant wisdom to anyone who asks [Proverbs 2:6; James 1:5].

Knowing when to seek God’s wisdom is easy. If the decision we face has spiritual consequences, then we should leave the decision up to Him. Samuel could have decided for or against the elders’ request on his own. But he knew this decision was too big for him and that the spiritual health of the people was at stake. So he turned it over to God.

Also notice that if Samuel had made the decision on his own he would have been in trouble either way. If he had granted the elders’ request he would have become an accomplice to the problems that he knew were certain to ensue from having a human king. If, on the other hand, he would have opposed the request, he would be inviting accusations of being self-serving especially considering his previously ill-advised decision to grant his sons judgeships.

Some dilemmas we face in life are too big for us. Some decisions affect our own spiritual well-being or the spiritual well-being of others. In these cases, its best to turn them over to God as He knows the best way to handle the situation. And, as we’ll see tomorrow, His way is not always the obvious way.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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