Saturday, 12 April 2014

(103) April 13: 1 Samuel 10-12 & Luke 13:22-35

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider the ways Saul is affirmed as king.

To ponder:
Saul is affirmed as king with a kiss from Samuel as prophet and anointing with oil – a picture of God imparting him with authority for his role. Three “signs” follow to prove Samuel is a true prophet and so to be trusted (Deut 18v22), and that Saul has therefore truly been made king. Most significant is when Saul prophesizes. The prophets he joined were probably declaring God’s deeds to music as moved by the Holy Spirit (Ex 15v20-21). This signified the spiritual nature of kingship in Israel, but also the empowering of God’s Spirit for the task. So we read that God “changed” Saul into a “different person” by changing his “heart.” With the signs completed he could do “whatever his hand finds to do” as God would be “with him.” The instructions that immediately follow (10v8) suggest this simply means Saul was to do whatever God entrusted into his hands. The point is that Saul is not his own boss. He is still to obey the LORD as his king.
            As a royal priesthood, we reign with Christ as we govern our lives, families, churches and even wider society to some degree. And we too are anointed and changed by the Holy Spirit to this end. Because God is with us, we are able to exercise our responsibilities. But we must do these things in obedience to our divine sovereign.
            Saul seems reluctant. He holds what happened back from his uncle and even hides in the baggage when Samuel wants to present him to the people. This contrasts the attitude of the people who cry “long live the king” because of how outwardly imposing he is. Like a good prophet however, Samuel does not hold back the uncomfortable truth at such a happy time. He is clear their desire for a king reflects their rejection of God. He also ensures they are aware of the “regulations of the kingship” (possibly Deut 17v14-20) which are written down and placed within the sanctuary. God’s word is an ever-present reminder to us of the terms of our rule.
            Valiant men then group around Saul. Although there are some detractors, Saul is soon proved. Hearing of the Ammonite siege of Jabesh Gilead, the Spirit comes upon him in power, he burns with anger, summons Israel with a threat against those who don’t help, musters 330,000 men, and defeats the Ammonites. He also shows restraint and mercy to those who at first rejected his rule. After this divine demonstration that God was with Saul, he is then “confirmed” king with great celebration. There’s an interesting parallel with Christ. He too was anointed by the Spirit in his baptism, then proclaimed as king in his ministry, proved king by his resurrection and so defeat of death, and then confirmed king by his ascension to God’s right hand.
With Saul now leader, Samuel withdraws from his role. His speech stresses that Israel’s preference for a king over a judge like Samuel is culpable, as the people can bear witness that from his youth to his old age, he had always acted justly and honestly. He then recounts how God had delivered Israel in the past when she cried to him, yet still asked for a king. The point is that this request was an “evil” rejection of God’s perfectly sufficient means of governing them.
Samuel called on God to send thunder and rain to prove just this, and in response, the people ask Samuel to pray for them so they do not die. He promises to do so, and teach them “what is just and right.” And he stresses too, that although they have their king, they and Saul must obey and follow the LORD, and not turn to idols who “cannot rescue.” Having their king doesn’t guarantee their security. It still depends on God’s covenant promises. So Samuel warns, if they continue in evil, they and the king “will be swept away.”
Praying it home:
Praise God for proving Christ’s sufficiency as our king by raising him from the dead. Pray that we would seek to reign over the responsibilities he has given us in obedience to his word.

Thinking further:
None today.

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