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Our Minds Cannot Comprehend How God Works


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)


After searching for his father’s lost donkeys for a few days with no success, Saul had decided to give up and return home. But the servant who was accompanying him knew that a “man of God” was in the vicinity of where they were so they decided to try to find him to see if he could help locate the wayward animals.

As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water. Women were the ones to go to the city’s well with empty water jugs to fill with water. This city was apparently on a hill and the water supply would, naturally, therefore, be at the bottom of the hill. Carrying water up a hill is no easy task, reserved for people who were not highly regarded in society.

But notice that even though women were looked down upon, Saul is not hesitant to talk with them. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in Samaria, his disciples were surprised to see Him do so as even hundreds of years after Saul, women were still not highly regarded in the Middle East [John 4].

Saul was a complex person. He had some very good qualities as we’ve already learned. He was willing to work hard without complaining. He also eschewed social norms to treat people (e.g. women) respectively. But he also had some very poor qualities which we’ll learn as we continue our study.

The women told Saul that the seer is just ahead of them. In fact, as soon as they were entering the city Samuel and his servant saw Samuel coming out toward them. Saul didn’t know what Samuel looked like so while he saw Samuel, he didn’t know that he was the seer he was looking for.

Notice that this meeting of Saul and Samuel was orchestrated by God through the ordinary, unspectacular circumstances of Saul’s life. His father owned donkeys. Those donkeys were put out to pasture. The donkeys wandered off. Saul goes to find them but can’t. His servant happens to know of a seer in the area. They go to the city where they think the seer is. And, as it happens, the seer is there on that very day, just a little bit ahead of them.

God planned all of this long before it happened. But notice that none of the characters in this story seem manipulated. They are simply acting through normal events – none of which seemed to take them by surprise – and making their own choices as they go along.

Saul and his servant were not forced by God to go look for the seer. God did not control their minds – they decided to go on their own. But that was exactly what God wanted at the precise time He wanted it.

God allows us to make decisions and somehow that can’t be understood by the human mind, He uses our choices – and the simultaneous choices of all the other millions of people on the planet – to achieve His goals. All of human history is man making decisions and God miraculously using those decisions to bring out what He wants to bring about.

It’s impossible to explain, but somehow God works in our lives to bring about His purposes but never treads on our freedom to make decisions. Yet at the same time, we are completely unaware that He is using our decisions for His purposes.

Life is like improv. We’re just making things up as we go, not knowing what the next day or even next minute holds. Yet no matter what we choose to do or say, God is able to use – and, in fact, is using – all our choices – both the good and the bad – to achieve all that He has planned for the human race [Romans 8:28].

Our minds cannot possibly comprehend how God works. He is truly an amazing God.

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

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God Is Not A Vending Machine


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)


In yesterday’s passage, Saul had decided to give up looking for his father’s donkeys and return home. Saul had willingly gone to look for them but was ready to end his search after several unsuccessful days. This will become a recurring theme as we continue our study through 1 Samuel: Saul will be patient to a point, but will then quit on a situation.

Interestingly, Saul’s servant knew that there was a man of God (Samuel) in the town they in which they had stopped, in the district of Zuph. He doesn’t seem to know too much about Samuel, not understanding Samuel’s true function. Rather he considers Samuel to be only someone to turn to in response to earthly problems. Saul, on the other hand, was apparently completely unaware of Samuel, which is quite surprising.

Samuel was God’s spiritual leader over all of Israel. One would think that Saul would have heard of him, considering that Saul was God’s chosen political and military leader over Israel. Not to mention, Saul and Samuel lived in towns separated by only about five miles.

It seems that Saul was raised by a family that was not very spiritual. They likely did not attend the annual feasts or regularly attend their local synagogue. Therefore, this makes Saul a rather strange choice to be Israel’s leader.

Anyone in a leadership position who does not have a deep reverence for God cannot truly lead people. All human beings were made in God’s image. If one does not have high regard for God then one cannot have a high regard for the things of God, of which mankind is foremost. Such a person will be dedicated to themselves or the furtherance of a group they belong to, such as a political party. They won’t be concerned enough with the welfare of God’s crowning creation.

We can see that Saul and his servant don’t understand who Samuel is as they only want Samuel to tell them what way to take to find the donkeys. The servant believes that everything Samuel says comes true. They only view Samuel as a means to solve their immediate, earthly problem and nothing more – and one that has to be paid for that service. This tells us a lot about the spiritual state of Israel at this time.

At this point in time, Israel was in the era of the judges. During this time, the people of Israel were far from God. Although many still believed that God existed, they did not recognize His authority – He was not their leader. Instead, everyone did what they thought was right [Judges 21:25]. Everyone created their own truth and made up their own rules. And if they did involve God in their lives it was just to get an immediate need met.

Sadly, this is how most people view God today. They don’t realize that God created them in order to have a deep, meaningful relationship with them. Instead, they only approach Him – if they approach Him at all – when they have a need, or – more likely – a want.

God is not a vending machine – someone we turn to when we need something and once we have it walk away until next time. We were not created to live independently from Him.

Rather we were designed to be in continuous fellowship with Him. God wants to hear our problems and solve them, of course. But He also wants to give us advice and to celebrate our achievements. He cares about our fears, joys, concerns and everything that is going on in our lives – even something as seemingly trivial as lost donkeys.

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

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God Is Always Close To Us


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)


Yesterday we saw Saul and a servant go looking for missing donkey’s that belonged to Saul’s father, Kish. They searched through a wide area but were unsuccessful. When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul suggested that they go back because his father will stop thinking about the donkey’s and start worrying about them.

Zuph was a district within the land allotted to the tribe of Ephraim and was the area in which Samuel’s family lived [1 Samuel 1:1]. Although as Israel’s leader Samuel regularly traveled a circuit through various cities, his permanent residence was always in this area [1 Samuel 7:15-17]. Saul was not far from the man he needed to see, but he didn’t even know it.

I think our spiritual life can be similar. The answers to our problems and questions can only be found in God who is always close by and is willing to grant us wisdom if we ask for it [James 1:5]. But people – both believers and non-believers – sometimes don’t realize how close God is.

Non-believers, of course, don’t even consider approaching God. They don’t realize that God is right in their midst as their creator, guide, and savior. They’re so close and yet so far from the truth.

But even believers can sometimes neglect to realize that God is close to them at every moment. Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives and our problems that we go ahead and find solutions on our own without consulting God. We actually see quite a bit of this in the Bible. Abraham, David, Solomon, Ezra and others who are strong men and women of God make decisions using solely their own human thinking. Sometimes they didn’t consult God because they failed to stop and remind themselves of how close He was to them. And in almost every case the consequences were disastrous.

God is never far from anyone. No matter how lost a person is or how much trouble one has in one’s life, God is near. And He desires to help us through this world; this world we’ve made a mess of. We have so many problems and so many hurting people on this planet all because all throughout history the inhabitants of Earth have decided that their own wisdom is sufficient, or even better, than God’s.

Yet God is calling – He is constantly calling to us, everywhere we are [Proverbs 8]. He never stops. He wants us to know how close He is. He wants us to escape from the pain of this life and to know that He is willing to hear us and heal us if we just have the wisdom to call upon Him and not rely on our own intellect.

As we’ll see as we continue our study, Saul was not a spiritual man. We’ll see him make his own decisions without consulting God, which will lead to disastrous results for both him and Israel.

God was not far from Saul. And He’s not far from anyone of us today.

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

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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 9:1-2)


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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