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.
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