Anointed

‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:10-13‬ ‭(NIV) “Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David…”‭

So we end the last chapter with Saul being rejected by the Lord, and this chapter starts with the Prophet Samuel once again looking for the person that’s going to lead God’s people as king.

 

There are some interesting things to look at in this chapter.

 

Saul is a young man head and shoulders above the rest. He was a fine specimen of a man. He’s tall and he looks the part. If we were to look up the features & qualities necessary to be king, Saul met the qualifications, he passed the eye test. 

David on the other hand was the little brother everyone forgot. No one bothered to even call him in from the fields for this special visit from the Man of God. He was fine looking, handsome, a good complexion and some versions say he had pretty eyes. Not a very kingly description to be sure.

Saul was out looking for his dads lost donkeys when he was chosen. David was tending and protecting his father’s sheep, tasked with their wellbeing.

It is curious to note later in the chapter, that David was also given the task of soothing Saul on the occasions when an evil spirit would torment him. David was also an armor bearer to the king. Much like Moses and Joseph; God had placed David exactly in the right place He needed him to be until the proper time of His choosing.

 

Most sermons based on this chapter are about how man looks at the outside and God looks at the heart. That point is obvious, but what stuck out to me this time are the contrasts. 

Is it possible that God was trying to make a point? 

This is what you get when you do the choosing! He (Saul) may have passed the EYE test, but he didn’t pass the HEART test. 

When you got Saul you got an impulsive, impatient, man-pleaser; a rebellious man who the Lord regretted ever choosing and whom the Lord rejected as king over Israel. 

God went so far as pulling His Spirit from the man! 

How much of a mess do you have to be to get to that place with a God whose very character is LONGSUFFERING and ABIDING in LOVE?

But if God is so displeased with Saul, why allow him to continue to lead for a period of time?

I believe this time was used to develop Davids character, and to refine him. 

How would we preform under the same circumstances? 

  • If we were David would we be able to play a tune that calmed the very man we were anointed to replace? 
  • If we were David would we be able to carry a shield and protect this mans back in difficult and dangerous situations? 
  • If we were David would we be able to sit still and calmly wait for God’s appointed time?

I can only speak for myself, but I would bet that the same holds true for you… I don’t think I would !

I tend to be impatient, I have a propensity for speaking my mind, I don’t think I could hold it together knowing the seat that Saul is occupying will shortly be mine…. Oh wretched man that I am!

But then again…

I am using the Scriptures to lead and guide me, and I am acknowledging my faults as a fallible man. I am NOT able! But if that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me, He can quicken this mortal body by His Spirit. So therefore I can do all things thru Christ which strengthens me! 

Oh Heavenly Father, once again thank you for your Word. It doesn’t return to you empty but it accomplishes that which you have purposed in your heart for it to accomplish….In me!!!! Cut away the filthiness of this flesh, soften the hardness in this heart. Empower and embolden me to walk out my Salvation with fear and trembling. Help me to serve others even those who seem like they are far from you. Give me the patience I need to wait on your perfect timing. And lastly… thank you for choosing me. -Love John

Better than Sacrifice 

‭‭1 ‬Samuel ‭15:30‬ ‭(AMP) “Saul said, I have sinned; yet honor me now, I pray you, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.”

This guy oozes pride and self-preservation like a jelly donut that has been squeezed too hard. 

This is how the chapter started. In case you hadn’t read it. Samuel is giving Saul a special mission, his next assignment, and he is spelling it out. He is leaving no room for misinterpretation…

“The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts…”

He is saying, “You were a relative nobody until God chose you and made you a somebody. Remember THAT! If you believed that I heard from the Lord then… then you better Listen up!

Well if you didn’t stop and go back and read the chapter, I’m sure you can figure out how this is going to go. 

Saul does NOT do exactly what the Lord commands, and when he is called out on it, he doesn’t take responsibility

As a leader the accolades usually fall to him, but so do the critiques. But unfortunately, Saul hasn’t led well at all, and he doesn’t take criticism well either. 

Saul has the audacity to run up on Samuel and greet him like everything is hunky dory. 

What is it about the word “PROPHET” that Saul doesn’t understand? Hello!!!! They KNOW things! Duh.

Saul doesn’t know that Samuel knows the following…

…But Saul and the people spared Agag (the Amalekite King) and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
You see Saul decided to pick and choose what should be devoted and what should be kept. But the instructions were…Devote it ALL!

He blames the people. Yeah they did it! Samuel tells Saul to – STOP! I feel like he gave him a chance to own it, but once again he blames the people. 

Dude, leaders can be so stubborn sometimes. 

And things haven’t changed much since then. I believe it has gotten worse. We live in a culture where no one accepts responsibility for their actions…

  • It was my up bringing…
  • I’m the product of a bad environment…
  • My father left us when we were kids…
  • We were broke…
  • If I had the same shot as, so and so…
  • Mom was never there for me…

We assign blame, we deflect blame, we deny blame, but rarely do we TAKE the blame. 

The Bible says Samuel really struggled with this one. He cried all night. This was a hard talk and he really didn’t want to have to confront Saul. 

Perhaps he cried because he knew this is exactly what the people wanted. They wanted a king and that’s what they got. A prideful man, a sinful man, and a stubborn man. A man who cares more about how he looks in the eyes of the elders and the people than in the eyes of God. 

Perhaps he cried because he deeply cared for the nation of Israel and the direction they were heading. He knew once they rejected God as their king, things were going to be rough for his people. 

So, what can we learn?
1. Obedience is better than sacrifice. 

2. Own your mistakes. 

3. God already knows our dirty little secrets, so lying about them when confronted is futile. 

Heavenly Father, we all have fallen short of perfection. We all have cherry picked areas and levels of obedience as we saw fit to certain degrees. From the outside looking into our lives, we must look equally as pathetic as Saul did trying to lie to Samuel. God, I’m so sorry for my deceptive ways, and for my lack of total obedience. I repent of pride, and self-sufficiency. Grant me the boldness and courage I need to take You at your Word. I thank you for forgiveness and for second and third chances. Help me to be always teachable, and quick to repent. Love you! -John

Rumbly in my Tumbly

1 Samuel‬ ‭14:24‬ ‭(ESV) “And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food.”

I should be writing about Prince Jonathan and his bravery, and the courage and commitment of his armor-bearer, of how they peeled away from the troops and scaled jagged cliffs covertly and created chaos amongst the enemy. 

I should be writing about how God once again comes on the scene and routs the enemy. Causing them to slay each other. 

…BUT

Once again, just when you don’t think it’s humanly possible to do something worse than his unlawful sacrifice, King Saul makes a careless oath

When we were younger our crew would respond to that with two words… “This Brother!!!”

What a Bonehead, what a Mook! This guy is making Harry and Lloyd look like geniuses

As a SoCal guy, one of the traditions before the Rose 🌹Bowl game, Lawry’s Restaurant would host both teams to a hearty Prime Rib dinner an expensive, delicious, high calorie meal before the game. The exact opposite of what King Saul proclaims. 

“Hey everybody! Listen up, NO one is going to eat a thing until the enemy is conquered!”

All of a sudden I can almost hear the sound of 1000’s of soldiers sigh a collective groan, immediately followed by a chorus of “Rumbly in my Tumbly”. Which is uncannily appropriate in this story. There’s hunny in this story (1 Samuel Chapter 14) you have to read it for yourself. 

I’m stoked, I was able to reference College Football, Dumb and Dumber and Winnie the Pooh in the same blog. 

It’s taken me over 4 days marinating on this to even come up with an opinion

It smells like Saul is trying to act religious, it reeks of pride and selfishness. The longer I think about it the more it stinks. This guy is letting his crown warp his mind. Shakespeare wrote, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” I know Zac Brown sang it like that, but that’s where he got it from. 

Is King Saul so emotionally spent by the constant oppression of Israels enemies that he is making rash decisions? Did he inherit such a mess of a nation that it’s causing him to misspeak, and make logistical errors?  

This isn’t looking like the changed guy that prophesied with the prophets, the young man who rallied 330,000 men to fight with him. It appears the pressure of leading has him thinking he is now an island unto himself. It’s his people and his enemies. How fast do we forget from where we came. 

So… what can we learn?

1. Be careful when making decisions under duress. It’s best to ask for advice from people you trust

2. Think about how policy changes affect the whole organization… Small moves by the large cogs (leaders) cause the small cogs (staff/ helpers/ volunteers) to spin wildly

3. Personal issues and frustrations can become organizational nightmares.  

4. If your teammates need to make decisions behind your back to save your backside, it’s not always betrayal, it is often the effect of a slow erosion of trust and confidence in your leadership. 

Heavenly Father, I’ve made plenty of dumb moves and poor decisions which made my leaders spin uncontrollably. My spontaneous style was chaotic to those who served with me. Thank you for allowing me to see the error of my ways, and thank you for giving me friends and teammates that stuck with me because they believed in “the cause” even though I didn’t give them too much reason to believe in me. 

May the readers also reflect and learn from their mistakes before hasty decisions and policy changes cause irreparable damage to their teams. 

Thank you for your Word. Today once again it cut deep. I pray someone is helped as much as I have been. -Love John

Stay in your lane

‭‭1 SAMUEL‬ ‭13:8-9‬ ‭AMP‬‬ “Now Saul waited seven days, according to the appointed time which Samuel had set, but Samuel had not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering away from Saul. So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering [which he was forbidden to do].”

Saul’s reign so far in 5 seconds. 
-Hears bad news

-Musters 330,000 men

-Defeats Ammonites

-Inaugurated

-2 years pass…

Here we find Saul somewhere in the 3rd year of his reign (even though most of the commentators and versions do not agree on specific dates). 

Israel seems to be consistently in conflict with its enemies, the Philistines are attacking after a Israeli assault on an outpost. 

This time the numbers are in the Philistines favor, 30,000 chariots, 3,000 horsemen and more troops than can be numbered. 

Israel is afraid, they are hiding, they are outnumbered and overpowered. 
Saul seems to be in control, he isn’t running into battle without first consulting the man of God. 

…but there is a hitch, Samuel is busy or he has some other engagement. He tells Saul to wait for him 7 days. 

Why seven days? Idk? I’m not a numerologist, but I know seven is said to be the number of completion. Perhaps he had a previous appointment? We just do not know. 

It reminds me of the time when a messenger was sent to Jesus regarding his friend Lazarus’ sickness. Jesus didn’t drop what he was doing, jump up and grab the first 🐫 or donkey and head to Lazarus’ bedside. 

Nope! He waited. 
Maybe this is just like that? 

Samuel arrives towards the end of the 7th day. 

King Saul had it in his mind that being late for a meeting is unacceptable and making a king wait seven days is already a stretch. 

How dare he (Samuel) be late!!!

In his lack of patience, he makes the biggest mistake of his life. He gets in Samuels lane and tries to run Samuels race, but does he do what is strictly forbidden for anyone but the priest do?

He most likely has a priest with him, and that priest conducted the sacrifice and offering. 

But the issue is that he offers the sacrifice and the offering in Samuels absence. 

So what?! 

You probably thought it, what’s the big deal?!

I believe this was a test. A test of character and obedience which he failed miserably. And instead of owning it, he gives excuses

Was this action really enough to rip the kingdom away from him?

In Gods eyes…YES!

Why???

In my opinion, it was a lack of FAITH! 
Scripture clearly states, “Without FAITH it is impossible to please God.” 

You see, Saul’s thinking was… I’m doing a righteous thing making a Sacrifice and giving an Offering. BUT… His ACTIONS pointed to a lack of faith. His eyes were on the PEOPLE who were leaving, and NOT on the person who was on the way

They (the Israelites) came out in support, but when Samuel delayed, they started to leave, to hide in caves, in thickets and in dry cisterns. This exodus proves too much to bear for Saul, and that’s when he makes the decision not to wait any longer. 

So what can we learn? As if it isn’t evident. 

1. Patience is pretty important.

2. Making excuses isn’t the same as repentance.

3. I’d rather wait for God to show up, than to rush into battle without Him. 
You think David learned from Saul’s mistakes? Seems like humility is an important character trait for a godly leader. After one of the lowest points in Davids life he writes…

Psalms‬ ‭51:16-17‬ ‭ESV “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Heavenly Father, enable me to be patient when I think you are moving too slow for my liking. Help me to keep my eyes on You and not on what those around me are doing and or how they are reacting. I always want to be a person who is quick to admit when I’m wrong, and help me to remember that in any situation I’m in, or any obstacle I face, if You are with me, it doesn’t matter who is against me. 
Love-John

Guilty as charged. 

‭1 Samuel‬ ‭12:23 “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.”

In this chapter Samuel the prophet/judge of Israel is giving his farewell speech. By the tone and mood of it, he is hurt by the betrayal, and I cannot blame him. As a pastor, every time you lose a member or congregant it feels like a divorce, a betrayal. 

And to be brutally honest… It sucks!

I know religious people will probably not even bother to read on because I said that, but that’s how it feels. 

In my case, I could have been a better listener, leader and team player, But Samuel…

He didn’t let Gods Words fall to the ground, they didn’t have any charge of negligence, dereliction of duty, moral or ethical failure. NOTHING

I remember saying to folks in jest, “I’m taking you off my prayer list.” 

I never really thought about it much, but out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Deep down I really meant it. 

I remember one time in the early ’90’s the group I was in did a few shows in the Miami area. While we were out of the hotel goofing around afterwards. Someone broke into our room and ripped off our merch. CD’s, hats, T-shirts, stickers. And some of our DJ’s albums. I called down 🔥 on the perps. I prayed like David prayed against his enemies. (I told you David was my Bible hero!) I may have even prayed the plagues of Egypt down on those fools. Can you tell I was upset? My band mates would clown me every so often about that incident, and I wasn’t playing, I meant it!

Thank God that we don’t get everything we say. Or pray. 

…Ok back on track John, 

Samuel has to vocalize this to the people, “I will not take you off my prayer list, and I will not stop leading you in the way you need to go.” 

That’s hard! That’s love! That’s commitment!

He is essentially saying. Even though you have REJECTED the Lord as King, and me as your judge. I will NOT reject you!

I’m convicted! 

I knew it the minute I read this verse. 

I’m not going to lie, I wanted to pass this chapter over as well. Not because there is NOTHING to write about, but because there most definitely is! 

I have sinned! I have cut folks off my prayer list that have rejected God, and me. 

And here I confess my sin to the potential millions that could ever read this blog/post. I was wrong and I’m truly sorry

So what can we learn from this chapter? 

1. God is sovereign. 

2. God is just. 

3. God can fight His own battles. 

4. God loves people. 

5. We need to NOT let rejection and disappointment steer us off track from what we were called to do, and from whom we were called to minister to. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word. Today it cut deep. Thank you for revealing something to me that was sin. Help me not to take rejection personally. And help me to honor you in all I do, say and write. Love you-John

What a RUSH!

1 Samuel‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬ “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.”

Wait a minute! What? The Spirit of God caused Saul to get ANGRY?

Could it be the same Spirit that caused Jesus to break out the whip at the Temple here causes Saul to get righteously indignant?

Heck yes! And then some. 

Isn’t it peculiar how the sound of the people in lament would stir up some to action, but cause others to just join in on the wailing?

Upon hearing the news that the people of Jabesh-Gilead were about to surrender to the Ammonites. Saul was stirred to action. The people of Jabesh-Gilead upon surrender were about to have their eyes gouged out. This action would render them useless as soldiers, and as archers. It was a form of humiliation and utter disgrace. Why would a people submit themselves to this painful debilitating mutalation?

…They had NO HOPE!

Why would the enemy give them 7 days respite in order for them to find someone to help their cause?

…The Ammonite King allowed it because he believed they were helpless, and hopeless.

But GOD!

Had a plan, and a man. 

You see, there is nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t act. How many of us have had supervisors who didn’t like confrontation so they let terrible employees run amok in the workplace. Ugh! That’s so frustrating!

How many of us want to spank those “Little Darlings” that terrorize their parents at the grocery store? And why does it bother us so? I believe it’s because they refuse to act when it’s absolutely evident to everyone else that it’s the proper thing to do.

But Saul was not yet tested, he may have been anointed before God, but he hadn’t been inaugurated before the people. They never had a King before, and he didn’t know know how to be one.

Something about the heart change that Saul experienced in the previous chapter transformed him from spectator to participant. Something about the anointing, something about the calling on his life. The same boy who was worried about finding his fathers donkeys was now concerned with the well being of a nation.

How did that happen? The verse says, …And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul… He came upon him mightily and his actions united 330,000 men to come to his side.

So what can we learn from this chapter?

1. Your TITLE means nothing without assuming the responsibilities it requires.

2. Your inadequacy might just be linked to your failure to act.

3. Righteous indignation isn’t the same as doing something for shock value.

4. People will follow a Spirit attentive leader.

5. God doesn’t NEED us to rout the enemy, He gives us front row seats.

Heavenly Father, we never want to go into battle without You, but at the same time we don’t like to sit back doing nothing. Help us to be content with plowing the fields until the time comes for us to act. We want to be so attentive to your call, that the things that break your heart also breaks ours. Give us the discernment to know when that time is. Enable us to act when others cower in fear, knowing the battle is not ours but Yours. Let our actions draw likeminded people to our sides, changing spectators into participants, and wailers into mighty men and women of valor. Love you – John

Follow the leader

1 SAMUEL‬ ‭10:26-27‬. “Saul also went home to Gibeah; and the brave men whose hearts God had touched went with him. But some worthless men said, “How can this man save and rescue us?” And they regarded Saul with contempt and did not bring him a gift. But he ignored the insult and kept silent.”
First impressions are everything. We judge people in an instant. We formulate opinions at the slightest misstep and pettiness. With that in mind, what would our thoughts be if the first action after hearing the introduction of the new king we all were crying for is finding him hiding amongst the baggage? 
He wasn’t even bold enough to meet with the crowds. The Bible states that there were some worthless men, riffraff, and scoundrels who were not impressed. 
Would I be among the worthless fellows that didn’t buy into this hype and fanfare? Would I despise this new appointee? 
God in His divine nature sends a band of valiant men that have Saul’s back. 
Every leader needs God appointed people who regardless of public perception and contrary to popular opinion stand by them. 
How does this happen? Supernaturally! 
God has to change their hearts!  
It’s hard enough to be the first to do something I’m sure Saul turning around and seeing that he doesn’t have to make the trip home alone was comforting. 
Father God, if it takes a supernatural touch from you to follow those whom you choose, then Father touch and change my heart towards the leadership that you have appointed. 
May I be a help, and not a hindrance, help me to be valiant and supportive so that when my leader turns around it’s not to a crowd of riffraff, this but it’s to valiant man.