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Authority Needs To Be Respected


Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”
(1 Samuel 10:1-8)


In today’s passage, everything becomes clear to Saul as he finally gets his questions answered about his future as he is anointed by Samuel.

The word “anoint” means “to rub; to apply an oily liquid to”. Saul was physically anointed when Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head while explaining why he was going so.

In the Old Testament, one who was anointed was chosen by God for a specific task or role. The Hebrew word for “anointed” is מָשַׁח (pronounced: mashach) which is the root word for “Messiah”, meaning “anointed one”. Jesus was the Messiah – anointed (chosen) by God to be the one who paid for the sins of all mankind.

The physical act of anointing symbolized the power and presence of God coming upon an individual to enable that person to do the Lord’s work. When a person was anointed in the Old Testament they were receiving the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus’ death, all believers did not receive the Holy Spirit as they do under the New Testament. The Holy Spirit was given only to specific people at specific times so that they could do what God specifically called them to do. Both people and things could be anointed [Exodus 28:41, 30:26; 2 Samuel 16:12 et. al].

Interestingly, Saul was not anointed to be king. Samuel tells Saul that he is being anointed to be prince over God’s people Israelto be prince over His inheritance.

The Hebrew word for “prince” here is “נגיד” (pronounced: nagid) which means “captain; overseer”. Saul would oversee Israel, but he was not being given absolute power ro reign as he saw fit. He was to submit himself to the will of God. As we’ll see as we continue our study, Saul will not do this, leading to problems for many people and leading to his eventual downfall.

Nevertheless, Saul was God’s chosen leader and as such he deserved respect from the people. This was best expressed by David, when he was later being relentlessly pursued by Saul who was trying to kill him. David refused to harm Saul when he had the opportunity because Saul had been anointed by God [1 Samuel 24:6, 26:9-11, 23].

Leaders are not to lead people as if they owned them. God calls all leaders – in business, families, government, the church – to lead sacrificially, not for their own benefit but for the benefit of others. But even if they don’t we should not seek to destroy them.

Unfortunately in the United States at the current time, we have multiple people calling for our current president to be assassinated. This is unacceptable. It also goes against God’s commands.

All leadership has been chosen by God [Daniel 2:21; John 19:11; Romans 13:1]. No one has a leadership position that was not given to them by God. That does not mean, however, that all leaders are good. God sometimes choses bad leaders to show people that our trust should not be put in other human beings but in Him. This is exactly what God did with Saul.

God knew beforehand what kind of leader Saul would be and He even warned the people of Israel of this. But they ignored His warnings [1 Samuel 8].

Despite Saul’s poor leadership, it would have been wrong to forcibly remove him or kill him. Instead when we have a leader who we believe is doing a poor job, we should pray, acknowledging God’s sovereignty over us and our leaders [1 Timothy 2:2].

This is because God is our ultimate authority. He’s even in authority of those who don’t believe in Him or who flat-out reject His authority.

So regardless of what we think about a specific authority figure… the position of authority needs to be respected because it comes from God and symbolizes God [1 Peter 2:13].

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

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The Foundation Of Our Lives Needs To Be God’s Word


22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 And when they came down from the high place into the city, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street. 27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”
(1 Samuel 9:25-27)


At the conclusion of the feast at the high place (where the sacrifices were being made at this time), Saul and Samuel came down into the cityA bed was spread for Saul on the roof of some house, presumably Samuel’s. Roofs back in that day were flat and were often used as outdoor living spaces, even sleeping quarters on cool nights.

At the break of dawn, Samuel called to Saul to wake him and send him on his way. It’s interesting that Samuel woke Saul up at the break of dawn to send him out of the city. Certainly by morning word had gotten around about this stranger who not only ate the sacrificial meal with Samuel and other dignitaries, but who was given the seat of honor at the dinner. Samuel seemingly wants to get Saul out of town before the rest of the citizens wake up and surround him with questions. Saul was definitely not ready for that.

As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel commands Saul to tell his servant to go on ahead so that the both of them can have a talk. Specifically, Samuel wants to make known to Saul the word of God. This seems to be the first opportunity Samuel has had to explain to Saul the reason behind what had transpired over the previous twenty-four hours.

Saul was not yet king. But he had been chosen by God to be Israel’s first king. This was the word that had come to Samuel and Samuel relayed to Saul. But besides telling Saul that God had chosen him, I think there are other things that Samuel began to teach Saul that day.

Recall that Saul was not a religious man. He didn’t even know who Samuel was even though at this time Samuel was the leader of Israel and had been for decades. It seems that Saul was not raised with the word of God – what we call the Bible. In those days, the only Scriptures that the Jews had were the five books of Moses: Genesis through Deuteronomy.

Before Saul can be Israel’s king he must learn something about God. Up until this point, Saul seemingly knew nothing. He cannot succeed as king without having at least the basic understanding of God and how He works.

The same thing is true today. Leaders are all appointed by God [Romans 13:1]. But they cannot lead people to prosperity and safety without understanding God. And they certainly cannot lead people into heaven without such knowledge either.

Tragically, the leaders in our world rely solely on themselves and other human beings to make decisions. They look at the world from a human and earthly viewpoint as opposed to a godly and eternal one.

This means they operate on faulty information, for the most part. Without having at least an awareness and recognition of God, they are doomed to make decisions that only create problems. God warns us of this very problem [Proverbs 3:5-6].

Those of us who are not leaders have the same issue. We cannot truly be successful unless we operate upon a foundation built on God’s truth.

God is the only source of truth [John 14:6]. So, operating without God means we are operating without truth. We make decisions in our lives based on bad information. And that means our lives will be on the wrong course at best and problem-filled at worst.

God wants us to have a bright future, filled with hope [Jeremiah 29:11]. And He’s willing to instruct us and lead us so that can be so [Psalm 32:8]. But we have to be in a relationship with Him for that to happen.

Just like one has to spend time with another person to get to know them one has to spend time with God to get to know Him. And we get to know God through His word as delivered through the Bible and prayer.

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

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God Doesn’t Wait For Us To Clean Ourselves Up


22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
(1 Samuel 9:22-24)


Saul wondered at Samuel’s words to him [1 Samuel 9:20-21] but Samuel didn’t provide any more information at that time. He told Saul to go ahead of him to the feast as he apparently had something to do before going himself.

After reconnecting,  Samuel took Saul and his servant who was traveling with him and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited.

Saul and his servant had been wandering the countryside in search of lost donkeys. When they left home they were not anticipating dining with about thirty dignitaries. Obviously, they weren’t dressed appropriately for this event. The invited guests, on the other hand, had time to prepare and were therefore likely dressed more suitably. Saul and his servant must have felt very out of place, not to mention amazed at what was going on.

Even more than simply being in the presence of such important people on such an important occasion, Saul was seated at the head of the table, signifying that he was the most important person in the room. And he was given the choicest portion of meat that had been previously set aside especially for him.

All this would have confirmed Samuel’s words to Saul when they first met – that he (Saul) was about to become the leader of all of Israel, although Saul was still short on specifics. It won’t be until the next morning that Samuel will explain how all this came to be. So for now, Saul still must be very confused.

It’s interesting to look at this passage from the viewpoint of the guests as well. They must have been a bit taken aback. It seems they were invited by Saul to meet the man who would be Israel’s first king. Guests were seated at these events in order of importance, with those nearest the host being the most important.

When Saul walked and was given the seat at the head of the table, they must have been wondering if some mistake had been made. Saul, while tall and handsome, hardly looked like royalty in his current condition.

God treats people in much the same way as Samuel treated Saul. Notice that Saul was not dressed appropriately for this event. Likewise, God did not wait for us to clean ourselves up before saving us from our sins. He didn’t expect us to become perfect, or even “better”. He saved us despite our sin [Romans 5:8] and cleaned us up Himself [Zechariah 3:3-4].

Nor is heaven reserved for the elite of society. Saul was a nobody from a small family. He had no influence or power. Yet God chose to make him king of Israel. Likewise, Jesus did not come to save those who think themselves worthy of Him. He came to save those who know they don’t deserve it [Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32].

And as we speak, God is preparing heaven for our arrival at the hour appointed. Right now, Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for those who will be arriving there someday [John 14:2-3]. All the details are being attended to so that everything is ready and waiting when we get there.

Someday those of us who have accepted God’s offer to forgive all our sins and have become His adopted children [John 1:12] will be ushered into heaven, utterly amazed that we are there. Like Saul, we’ll know we are unworthy. We’ll know we don’t deserve it. We’ll know that we had nothing to do with it.

It will seem like a dream. But it will be our new reality, all made possible solely by the grace of God.

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

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God Doesn’t Work Through The Obvious


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


Yesterday Samuel hinted to Saul that he (Saul) would be raised up to a position of authority over all of Israel. Since it was already late in the afternoon, and the sacrificial feast was about to being, Samuel doesn’t have time to expand on his words. But he will fill in the rest of the details later.

Saul’s response to Samuel is quite humble. He questions the way Samuel had spoken to him, since he was a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel. Not to mention, Saul’s clan was the humblest of all the clans in the tribe of Benjamin.

For these reasons, Saul did not consider himself worthy of the honor which Samuel was bestowing upon him. This initial modesty by Saul is good. Unfortunately, Saul will not remain humble, as we’ll see as we continue our study.

The tribe of Benjamin was the smallest of the 12 tribes of Israel (if Ephraim and Manasseh are counted as one tribe; they both came from the split of Joseph’s tribe) [Numbers 1:36]. It had also been the victim of the first civil war in Israel, losing all but 600 men to the other tribes [Judges 20]. At the time of the events in today’s passage, Benjamin had not recovered from this catastrophe.

Nothing would have been more unlikely than for Israel’s first king to come from the weakest, smallest tribe in the land as opposed to from one of the much larger and more powerful tribes such as Judah and Dan. Nevertheless, God chose the small tribe of Benjamin to provide Israel’s first king. This shouldn’t be surprising. Choosing someone who is the “least” is the way God works.

God chose Gideon to lead Israel even though Gideon was the least in his father’s house and from the weakest clan in Manasseh [Judges 6:15]. When Jacob blessed his grand sons – Joseph’s sons – he gave the blessing and double portion not to the older, but to the younger [Genesis 48:17-19]. David was the youngest of eight boys, and the one who made the least impression [1 Samuel 16:1-13].

Jeremiah was a very young man when God called him to be a prophet and for that reason, he considered himself to be unworthy [Jeremiah 1:6-8]. Moses was not eloquent nor did he have any self-confidence when God chose him to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt [Exodus 4:1-17]. Even Jesus’ twelve apostles were uneducated men [Acts 4:13].

The fact is that God does not use superstars. He does not use people who are already known by the world. He uses those the world considers lowly, and foolish, and weak, and despised [1 Corinthians 1:26]

No matter who we look at in the Bible – male or female – God chose people who were not much in the eyes of the world. But despite their flaws and limitations, God did great things through these people, even when they failed as Saul will.

These people weren’t qualified to be used by God. But that was exactly the point. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

And through them He makes known the reality of His truth to the world. The people used by God don’t have power, nor influence, nor wealth. The only way they can achieve the things they do is through God’s power – the Holy Spirit living in them.

By using people of no renown, God assures that He will get the glory for all the wonderful things He will do through them. And if God gets the glory, rather than a human being, then other people will come to know Jesus as a result.

And that is always God’s one and only goal.

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

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God Puts Our Mind At Ease


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


Yesterday we saw how Saul and Samuel first met. Today we’ll study the words Samuel spoke to Saul upon meeting him.

Before Saul could even request Samuel’s help in finding his father’s lost donkeys – the reason he came to the city to find Samuel – Samuel takes charge of the conversation and gives instructions to Saul. From the reader’s perspective, it seems that Samuel had been expecting Saul and from our previous studies we know this is true [1 Samuel 9:15-16].

This must have seemed apparent to Saul as well. Samuel never asks Saul, a stranger, who he is or what he wants. He simply starts talking to him telling him to go up to the high place, where the daily sacrifices had already been held and the feasting was about to begin. Saul was to eat with Samuel that evening and would also stay the night

Samuel also informs Saul about the missing donkeysthey have been found. Samuel also revealed that he knew that they had been lost three days ago. By informing Saul about these donkeys without being asked about them, Samuel proves that he is truly a man of God for no human being could know such things without God telling him.

There are a couple of interesting things about Samuel’s words to Saul. The first is he says that he will tell him all that is on his mind. He says this before revealing that he knew about the donkeys. So for a split second Saul must have thought that he would find out about his father’s animals in the morning because the donkeys were the thing that was on his mind at that point.

But then Samuel tells Saul about the donkeys and also tells him not to set his mind on them. There was no reason for Saul to be preoccupied about the animals anymore because they had been located and are safe. With the donkey’s no longer on his mind, one had to wonder what else was on Saul’s mind.

The thing that would now be on Saul’s mind would be Saul’s next words: “and for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” These words implied that Saul was destined for greatness within Israel – he was the one whom all of Israel desired. As we’ll study tomorrow, these words made no sense to Saul. Certainly, he spent the night wondering what more Samuel would tell him the next day.

This passage is interesting because it reveals a bit of how God works with us. God knows what is on our minds. He knows our fears and our worries. He knows our desires and our questions.

God doesn’t leave these issues unaddressed. When we approach Him in prayer, He gives us the information and answers we need to put our minds at ease, even sometimes doing so before we even ask.

But God also fills our minds with questions. The more we learn about God the more questions we have and the more important those questions are.

God doesn’t want us to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. God knows we need basic necessities to live [Matthew 6:25-33]. Instead, He wants us to think about bigger issues – issues that do not affect us as much as they affect others.

Instead of being concerned about the problems in our lives, when we have a relationship with God, we think about the problems in other people’s lives. And we live for Jesus by serving and helping others.

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

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A True Follower Of Christ Calls No Attention To Himself


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found.And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


In today’s passage, Saul meets Samuel. Notice that Saul walks up to a man who he does not know to find out where is the house of the seer. Saul didn’t realize it, but he had asked the question to the seer himself. This shows us how little Saul knew about Samuel, one of the most important and well-known people in Israel. Saul was clearly unfit to be the leader of the nation, having no relationship with God.

But also notice that Samuel looked just like everybody else, even though he was God’s leader over Israel and had been for many years. Samuel was unidentifiable as that leader. He had no entourage. He didn’t dress differently. He didn’t wear a crown or a sash identifying himself as a man of God.

On the other hand, Saul stood out. Samuel saw Saul [1 Samuel 9:17]. His eyes were drawn to him. Saul drew attention to himself as he was the best looking and tallest man in Israel [1 Samuel 9:1-2]. He had an appearance that made people notice him. He was also traveling with a servant as opposed to Samuel who was traveling alone.

God’s people are no different from anyone else. At least they shouldn’t be. We should not be able to look into a crowd of people and identify who are Christians or even who are pastors.

Anyone who claims to be a Christian but who calls attention to himself or herself or how lived differently (i.e. better than) from the rest of God’s people is likely not really a child of God. We can see this with many TV pastors.

A few years ago Creflo Dolar bought himself a $65 million Gulfstream jet. Well, actually he bought it with the tithes and offerings of his congregation. Joel Osteen, who pastors the largest church in America, lives in a house reportedly worth over $10 million dollars and has 3 elevators.

A couple of years Steven Furtick, who leads Elevation Church in North Carolina, built a multi-million dollar home for himself near Charlotte. The late Eddie Long, who pastored New Birth Missionary Baptist Church outside Atlanta, was chauffeured around in a Bentley and lived in a multi-million dollar home.

Sadly, the list of people like this could go on and on. I doubt many, if any, people in these men’s congregations have these things. These men – and many others, including women – don’t live like the people they pastor. This is one way we can tell they are false teachers.

For the most part, God’s leaders in the Bible lived like the people they led. Moses, Paul, Peter, John, Boaz, the prophets, and others did not draw attention to themselves. They were seen as plain, ordinary people [Acts 4:13]. So was Jesus.

King Solomon is an interesting biblical figure. A study of his life reveals that he was extremely wealthy. Wealth in itself is not a bad thing. But Solomon spent more money and time building his own home than he spent building God’s home in Israel – the temple. He lived in excess in many areas of his life, including marrying hundreds of women. These excesses bring into legitimate question whether or not he lived for the Lord.

No true Christian lives for themselves or desires to bring attention to themselves. Nor does a true Christian – or true Christian church – seek their own comfort over serving God. Sadly, though, there are too many of these types of people and churches today. They’re everywhere.

A true follower of Christ lives for one purpose – to bring attention to his/her savior – Jesus Christ – and does so at their own expense [John 5:44; Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:6 et. al].

John the Baptist had it right when he said, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” [John 3:30]

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

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Whether We Recognize Him As Such Or Not, God Is Our King


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


Over the previous few days, we’ve seen Saul and his servant enter the town where Samuel was, looking for him. On the previous day God had told Samuel that at about the same time on the next day, He would send to him a man from the land of Benjamin [1 Samuel 9:15-16].

Neither Saul nor Samuel knew what the other looked like. So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you!” Saul had to certainly stand out in a crowd.

Certainly, when Samuel saw Saul he had to notice him:  Saul, being incredibly tall and handsome, stood out in a crowd [1 Samuel 9:1-2]. Besides, Samuel knew to expect God’s chosen leader at that time of day. So when he saw Saul, Samuel must have wondered if this was the man. God’s words confirmed any such thoughts.

But God said something more to Samuel. He says that Saul shall restrain His people. God’s choice of words here is interesting. In the original Hebrew, the word translated “restrain” is עָצַר (pronounced atsár). This word means “to halt the motion of” something or someone as opposed to stopping oneself.

Why God chose this word is hard to understand. Perhaps Saul would restrain the sin of the Israelites who were not walking closely with God at this time. They were constantly sinning by following the despicable practices of foreign religions, not to mention sinning by rejecting God in favor of a human king.

Or possibly, God was telling Samuel that Saul would be a coercive and tyrannical ruler, who would suppress the people of Israel. This would be consistent with the warning God gave Israel when they asked for a king [1 Samuel 8:10-18].

As we continue to study the story of Saul we’ll see that He didn’t do much to lead Israel away from sin. He was a weak ruler who was sinful himself. He was motivated by vanity and paranoia and as a result, his reign was marked by absolute and stern power.

This is exactly why God chose Saul to be Israel’s first monarch. He knew Saul would act this way and He wanted to show Israel that human rulers were not the answer to their plight.

Like everything God does and allows, His goal was to demonstrate the He was the better choice and Israel should abandon their thoughts that any human leader could do a better job than He.

But this is the way we think. We always seek to do things via human effort rather than doing things God’s way. We’ve done this since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve replaced God’s commands with their own logic.

For all of time, people have consistently thought that a leader – be it a political leader or a social leader – is the answer to our woes. This is why the human race, like Israel, rejects God as their king.

Human leaders are never the answer to our problems. They can’t be as they, like all humans, are imperfect and sinful. They can’t rule benevolently and humbly. They can only rule to serve themselves, their ideology, or political party.

Adam and Eve rejected God’s leadership in favor of leading themselves. But that didn’t stop God from being their king. Israel rejected God but that didn’t stop God from being their king either.

Only God has the wisdom, power, and humility to meet our most desperate needs. God was Israel’s true leader and He is the world’s one true leader today.

Every other leader only reigns at God’s discretion [Proverbs 8:15; Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1], just like a prince reigns at the king’s discretion. Saul was a prince [1 Samuel 9:16], not a king.

God is our king. Whether we recognize Him as such or not.

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

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God Has Conquered Our Most Frightening Enemy


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


God had chosen Saul to become the prince of Israel, as we learned yesterday. He also had a goal for Saul – to save God’s people from the hand of the Philistines.

For quite some time the Philistines had been harassing Israel [Judges 10:7, 13:1; 1 Samuel 4:1, 7:10 et. al]. And while they seem to have been subdued during much of Samuel’s lifetime, apparently they had started making life difficult for Israel again [1 Samuel 7:13, 13:5, 13:9].

Of course, for a long time, Israel had not been following God [Judges 17:6, 21:25] which is why God allowed neighboring nations to invade Israel [Judges 10:7, 13:1, et. al]. God used these nations to punish Israel, hoping Israel would repent of their sins and return to Him.

Each time that Israel was harassed, they would eventually see the error of their ways and would cry out to God for deliverance [Judges 3:9, 6:6-7, 10:10]. And while Israel had periods of faithfulness to God during this time, their long-term trend was to move further away from Him.

Yet notice that each time Israel cried out to God He rescued them, even though they had been unfaithful in the past and God knew they would again be unfaithful in the future. God was continually faithful to Israel even though they were not faithful to Him. This is the perfect picture of God.

Unlike a human absentee father, God will never abandon His children. Israel didn’t want Him to be their king any longer – they wanted a human king like the nations around them. But that didn’t mean that God was going to leave them. God cannot be unfaithful [2 Timothy 2:13].

God had seen His people; their cry had come to Him. God always hears the cries of His children. In the Old Testament, God’s children were Israel. In the New Testament, God’s children are born-again believers [John 1:12].

Those of us who are God’s children can count on the fact that God sees what is going on in our lives and He hears our prayers [Jeremiah 29:12; 1 John 5:14], even though He may not always alleviate our suffering.

Just like God used other nations to teach Israel and bring them into a relationship with Him, God uses problems in our lives today to train us and grow us to be more like Jesus. Every time we are going through difficulty we should think about how that situation can help make us more like the person God wants us to be. Perhaps we can learn to be more patient, or loving, or less materialistic.

And while God may not always rescue us from every situation we are in, He’s already solved our biggest problem: sin. In the past God raised up Judges and kings, like Saul, to rescue His people from their adversaries. God did the same thing with sin, with a twist.

God addressed our sin problem, not by raising up a human conqueror, but by coming to earth Himself in the form of a human being we call Jesus. As Jesus, He paid for our sins by living a perfect life (which no human could do), dying on the cross for a crime He did not, and could not, commit, and facing the wrath of God. Jesus became sin in our place [2 Corinthians 5:21].

Now, anyone who repents of their sins, believes in their need for forgiveness, and accepts Christ’s death as punishment for their sin will be rescued from the penalty of that sin which is eternal separation from God in hell.

God sees our pain. He hears our cries. And He has singlehandedly rescued us from our most frightening and devastating enemy.

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

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God Gives His Children Important Things To Do


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


In yesterday’s passage, we learned that God had secretly told Samuel that He was sending a man from the tribe of Benjamin to him. In today’s passage, we’ll study the reason God was sending Saul to meet Samuel.

God instructed Samuel to anoint Saul to be prince over His people Israel. Notice that God does not say that Saul will be “king”, but that he will be “prince” – someone in line to be king.  It seems Saul is going to be given a trial run to see if he will make a good king. Or perhaps God is telling Israel – through Saul’s title – that no human being could really ever be their king.

The people of Israel already had a king – God Himself – but they rejected God and demanded a human king, like the nations around them had. Additionally, Samuel was the leader of Israel – although not a king – and so he, too, had been rejected by the people [1 Samuel 8:4-9]

God decided to grant the people’s wish and replace Samuel with Saul. And He gives the job of anointing Saul to Samuel.

This must have been a tough situation for Samuel. The people whom he had led for years rejected him and now he is being given the responsibility to install his successor. On top of that, Samuel already knows that this is not going to end well for the people of Israel [1 Samuel 8:10-17]. He was certainly offended. But at the same time, his heart broke for the people who offended him.

But as we’ll see as we continue our study, Samuel obeys God and anoints Samuel. God had given Samuel an important job to do and Samuel was not going to defy God. Despite his emotional dichotomy, Samuel will go through with God’s commands.

God’s children today face the same issues. God has given us an important job to do – to make disciples by sharing the good news of Jesus with the people that we know [Matthew 28:18-20].

But the truth is many of the people we know have hurt us. Many don’t like us and/or treat us badly. That is no matter. We are still to tell them about Jesus, as hard as that may be. We cannot shirk the important job God has given us to do just because the people God has asked us to teach have treated us badly in the past and may do so again in the future. Our loyalty is to God and His wishes and goals, not to our own feelings or even safety.

As God’s children, our only concern should be how we can serve God no matter what the cost. Serving God is sometimes uncomfortable. It is sometimes unsafe. But our eternity is secure. And it is secure because we are going to heaven. Nothing that happens on earth can change that. And we’re going to heaven because someone else told us about Jesus. Perhaps even someone we didn’t like or mistreated.

We may not like some people in our lives. That isn’t uncommon. But our heart should still break for them. They need to know Jesus and have their sins forgiven before they die or else they’re going to end up in hell for all eternity. And no matter how much we dislike someone, or how much someone has hurt us, we should never want that for them.

God has given His children very important job to do. Not doing it is not an option.

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

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God Shares Information With His Children That He Doesn’t Share With The Rest Of The World


15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
(1 Samuel 9:15-21)


Thus far in our story of Saul becoming king over Israel, Saul went looking for his father’s lost donkeys but could not find them. Just as he was about to give up and return home the servant who was with Saul realized that he and Saul were in the vicinity of a city where a man of God lived – a seer – and thought perhaps that man of God could help them find the donkeys. So Saul and his servant go to the city and at this point are looking for the man of God – Samuel – in the city.

At the very same time, Samuel was looking for Saul because the day before the Lord had revealed to Samuel that He (God) would send to him (Samuel) a man from the land of Benjamin who Samuel should anoint to be prince over Israel, God’s people.

Some may call is a coincidence. Others may call it irony. But really it is neither. As we learned yesterday, God is orchestrating the events on earth, using the actions of individual people to bring about His purposes in ways we cannot comprehend.

But the interesting thing about today’s passage is that God told Samuel this was going to happen the day before. This begs the question, Why did God reveal his plans to Samuel and not Saul? Why was Saul kept in the dark about his future, only to find out about it through some lost animals?

The answer is God works differently in the lives of His children than He does in the lives of those who do not know Him.

As we’ve learned, Saul did not have a relationship with God. He had seemingly never heard of Samuel, even though Samuel was God’s appointed spiritual leader over Israel and at this point in time had been so for quite a number of years. In yesterday’s passage, Saul asked some women where the seer was – he didn’t even know Samuel’s name. And as we’ll see in a couple of days, Saul didn’t even know what Samuel looked like as he approaches Samuel himself asking where the seer is [1 Samuel 9:18].

So God could not reveal to Saul His plans because Saul was not listening to God. He was not expecting to hear from Him because he had no relationship with God. He, therefore, would not have recognized God’s voice or maybe not even paid attention to it.

On the other hand, Samuel had been in a relationship with God since he was a young boy and his mother, Hannah, sent him to serve in the tabernacle [1 Samuel 1:24-28]. Samuel had learned to listen to God voice [1 Samuel 3].

What’s very interesting about today’s passage is that in the original Hebrew the word translated “revealed” is אֹזֶן (pronounced: o-zen) which refers to a person’s ear. Literally, in Hebrew, this passage is saying that God uncovered Samuel’s ear similar to how one would push back hair or other covering over the ear to tell a person a secret.

This is indicative of the kind of relationship that God has with His children. He tells us things He does not tell the rest of the world. Sometimes He tells such things to all His children, through the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 2:9-12; Colossians 1:25-27]. And sometimes He’ll tell an individual something He specifically wants them to know but no one else, as He does here.

Being able to speak into someone’s ear implies not only an intimate relationship but a close physical presence as well. God was close, very close, to Samuel – both spiritually and physically. As He is with all His children.

But God does not speak directly to the rest of the world. He cannot because they haven’t learned to hear His voice. Instead, He speaks through circumstances or through a friend/coworker/family member who does know God.

As God’s children, we have access to God. And He will share information and wisdom with us that He will not share with the unbelieving world. That is an immense privilege.

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

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