Posts Tagged ‘Samuel’

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:6-7

I voted today.

I rode my bike to the polls so at the end of the day I would not feel like the effort was a total waste of my energy. You could possibly conclude from that remark that I am not entirely thrilled with the election process and/or the candidates vying for my precious vote.

Be that as it may, riding home I found myself musing over some portions of scripture, not remembering exactly where in the Bible they were found.

I looked it up when I arrived home. 1 Samuel 8:6-7.

The passage is convicting and as it relates to my experiences today, I found myself compelled to mull over, “What in God’s name is civic duty and how does it line up with the ‘truth’ revealed in the Romans 13:1-4 verse?”

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Romans 13:1-4

Civic Duty

I looked it up.

Free Dictionary told me that civic duty is, “The social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force.”

Frankly, that definition frightened me a little.

In another location, civic duty was equated to citizenship and this definition was provided, “Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities. ‘Active citizenship’ is the philosophy that citizens should work towards the betterment of their community through economic participation, public, volunteer work, and other such efforts to improve life for all citizens.”


I can live with a philosophy as long as it maintains that the truths found therein are derived from the God of the Bible. Plainly said, a philosophy without God is a lie and a sure path to destruction. Our true citizenship is in Heaven; therefore, the force that propels and binds the Christian is not social, but Spiritual.

Consequently can we say that God desires to use us towards the betterment of our temporary homes through our active participation? Yes, I believe we can draw that conclusion, as long as we are seeking God’s will and direction in the choices we make.

Hence, prayer is a critical component.

Confession Time

I’m ashamed to tell you that this man of prayer forgot to pray before I voted today. I merely voted along party lines; the ones most closely associated with the same godly, moral standards I embrace. I fear if I had prayed beforehand, I might not have cast a vote at all.

In that light, is not voting a viable option?

I think it is, but I’m not entirely convinced.


My son is retiring from the United States Navy in less than a month and I surely do appreciate that he and thousands before him, risked their lives in order to preserve my right to freely choose.


Thanks Dan!

And thanks dad, my World War II veteran!

And thanks Pop Pop, my World War I and World War II veteran!

And thanks to all the unknowns!

In honor of your service I promise, if Christ Jesus should tarry, to cast or not cast my future votes as wisely as I can.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – 1 Peter 2:9-15

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Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14

In the last chapter of 1 Samuel 31, King Saul is struck with an arrow by the Philistines and is severely wounded. Not wanting to be taken captive and abused by the enemy, Saul commits suicide by falling on his own sword. However, as we open Second Samuel we discover in chapter one there is more to the story. A man comes into David’s camp with extraordinary news…

As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.’ 2 Samuel 1:6b-9

Did This Really Happen?

Did the Amalekite finish off Saul? Some say this event truly occurred and others theorize the man just stumbled upon an already dead Saul, stole his stuff, and brought it to David seeking a compensation of some sort. We cannot be dogmatic about either position, but we can be certain of two thing: the Amalekite man was there ~and~ that he should not have been.

We know he was there because he had details of the scene and he had the damming evidence in his possession; King Saul’s royal crown and bracelet. We know he didn’t belong there because of what transpired twenty five years earlier.

Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey…Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek…” 1 Samuel 15:3, 18-20a

Saul failed. He did not completely annihilate the Amalekites and therefore, the one who finished him off should not have even existed. In typology, the Amalekites are a picture of our flesh; or more accurately the sin that continues to plague us from generation to generation. The account in Second Samuel demonstrates effectively how if the flesh is not dealt with, it will come back to destroy us. The Apostle Paul picks up the theme when he writes [that] if we choose to live by the flesh (sin) we will die by the flesh.

When Saul took Agag captive, he thought he had the situation under control. Is that not always the way with the sin we commit; don’t we also believe we have it under control? Saul’s action further demonstrates that the ill effects of sin might not be experienced for years—in his case twenty five years. Far too often we come to believe that because the consequences are not forthright, God must approve of our sin or worse yet, that our sin is not a sin at all. Beware.

The very truth of the matter is that our flesh; our sin; our Amalekites need to be dealt with—they need to be annihilated and utterly destroyed. How do we do that? The first thing we need to do is to recognize our sin as sin; calling it anything else but sin only serves to deny ourselves the remedy found in Christ’s blood. It’s kind of like going to the doctor and denying that you’re sick—if we cannot admit we are sick, the doctor likely won’t see us.

The second thing we need to do it repent of our sin; turn away from it and turns toward God. Thirdly, we must take responsibility for the sin we commit; sure we are forgiven and our salvation is secure, but there are earthly consequences that need to be dealt with. Finally, we need to accept the unmerited favor that our Father desires to bestow upon all who believe in His Son.

Saul failed, but he could have recovered. He didn’t recover because he thought he had his flesh under control.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

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Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 24:4-6

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Let’s recap what has been going on. David is in flight-mode and King Saul is in hot pursuit. Saul ducks into a nearby cavern to use the ‘facilities’ unaware that David and his band of merry men are hiding out in the recesses. David’s men alert him to this information and in essence advise him, “What a blessing David! God has delivered Saul into your hands!”

David’s men were wrong. Oh, their hearts may have been in the right place, but their discernment was way off. Given the opportunity to look back upon this incident we should see that this was not a blessing from the Lord, but rather a testing by the Lord.

David’s Test Grade

So how did David fair on this test? The primary purpose of any test is to evaluate progress and most [of us] would probably agree that David faired well since he did not kill Saul. From that we can rightly suppose that David saw this experience not as a blessing, but as a test. However, I submit to you that if David did pass the test, it was not by very much. We can deduce such a thing because in the very next chapter, David heads out to kill a man (Nabal) for merely refusing to give him food. It would seem that the test revealed David had not progressed very much at all.

The good news is that David is teachable and in time he will progress wonderfully. Given that reality the good news for us is that God’s testings have the capacity to transform into blessings. It’s true, everything from the Lord is either a bless’n or a lesson. And when we endeavor to walk in His way, those lessons will always turn into blessings.

Take a look at those blessings in your life–are they blessings or are they tests? The Lord has provided us [in His Word] these examples so we might better know the difference.

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When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son? 1 Samuel 10:2 KJV

What’s the thing on your mind today with which you are most concerned? A job? Your health? The bills? A wayward child? The Lord would say to you and I, “Give your concerns to me.”

What we must commit to memory is that God has allowed the problem, the situation, the concern to invade our space in order that we might bring ourselves to His space. It was never about the problem; it was always about Jesus! The Lord may have put that thing there personally or He may have allowed it to be put there by the adversary, but regardless, He wants it to be a summit point. Why? Think of it in these terms — if we have any grasp of Who God is, how can we be focused on a problem when in His presence?

Does this mean God will remove or remedy the situation? Not necessarily. There are countless episodes in the Bible where people met God in a problem and He brought them through and not out of it. What our Father really wants us to know is that in His eye, the problem is over ~and~ that He has much greater things lined up for us down the road. In a nutshell, this was His message to Saul and He used his predicament to commune with him and to effectively convey, “I’ve got this one under control Saul; do you trust Me?”

Do We Trust in God?

Our Father would never tell His children to ignore their problems. He simply invites us to bring them to Him and that He will meet us there. Does anybody want to talk about a silver lining, because in essence we’re being told our problems are invitations to sit before our King. It’s kind of like getting a parking summons and then being told by the issuing officer, “By the way, show that ticket to the Whitehouse guard and he’ll let you in to see the President of the United States.”

The Choice is Ours

I have got to tell you that I’m not particularly fond of the policies of our current President, but given the opportunity, “I’m goin to the Whitehouse to meet him!” How much more so would I be willing to bring whatever concerns me today before the Throne of God!

The fact of the matter is that Saul started strong, but finished weak. Why? Because he forgot about God. He forgot that he could bring every matter to Him. He forgot that all things are from God and belong to Him. As a result, Saul dies a man outside of God’s will—outside of the Meeting Place. How sad. Let us not make the same mistake as we remember to habitually bring everything to Him—our concerns, our praise, and our eternal gratitude—it’s the right of every born again believer.


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Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day–with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods–so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:1, 3-9

Many bible scholars make the point that because Samuel had become a circuit preacher of sorts, he had neglected his children which resulted in their turning from the Lord and succumbing to sin. We can read the passage and come away with that application, but I would not be dogmatic about whether or not Samuel was guilty of child neglect. One thing we can be certain about is that Samuel was likely broken hearted about his son’s spiritual condition.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4

The fact of the matter is that Samuel’s mentor Eli suffered the same thing—and he was a stay at home dad! His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were similarly rotten, although their sin of choice was not greed (like Samuel’s boys) but covetousness towards women and food. Fact is the entire nation of Israel had succumb to perversity to the point where they favored a man’s leadership over God’s—a man who would be sympathetic to their fleshly cause.

Samuel’s Wisdom

…For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20

Samuel’s boys had gone astray and all of Israel was aware of it; Samuel’s old and everyone was talking about it. Israel had essentially told Samuel, “You and your boys are washed up and we want nothing to do with you. Now go find us a real leader!” Ouch. Old Sammy was angry, but he was also astute and we can glean from his wisdom—before his anger could morph into sin, he went to the Lord in prayer and in so doing God lets him in on a couple secrets.

“Sam, it’s not about you; it’s all about Me.”

Don’t we all need to be reminded of that regularly? God disclosed to Samuel that Israel had become perverse once again and in reality could not care less about him or his boys—they were nothing more that an excuse to plead their case. Israel did not want to be submissive to God, but to a man who might justify and allow their illicit behaviors. God effectively says “Warn them and then give them what they want.” Looking back at this event, the Lord through His prophet Hosea gives us some wonderful insight regarding this incident.

“O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me. I will be your King; Where is any other, That he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? I gave you a king in My anger, And took him away in My wrath. Hosea 13:9-11

Be Careful What You Ask For…

Because you just might get it! God demonstrated then and He still demonstrates today that in His anger He just might give us what we are asking for. It is for this reason we need to always seek God’s will (like Samuel) and pray accordingly. Israel’s first mistake was that they knew God’s will and ignored it. Their second mistake was believing that because they got what they wanted, God was with them. In time, they would learn the error of their ways. However, between the time they received their king and realized their blunder, they were positioned to mislead other believers. Every person who teaches a false prosperity doctrine today is perpetrating the same lie. Let us not make the same mistake.


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So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 9:2-3

The Lord truly spoke to my heart yesterday, essentially saying to me, “I can see into the future and beyond. That thing you are concerned with is done.”

The peace that came over me was magnificent. The particular thing that concerned me was not huge at all (quite trivial in actuality), but His words gave me the assurance that He has already viewed everything that’s going to happen (or not happen) to me in this life. My Father is positioned over me like the Good Year Blimp is above the Rose Bowl Parade. From my venue I only see what is in front of me with limited peripheral vision, but He sees the splendor of what’s to come and knows exactly where the entire procession is going to end up.

Yesterday’s encounter reminded me how easy it is to focus on a task or a problem rather then Jesus. The fact of the matter is that when we lose focus on Christ, the thing we’re focusing on becomes darkness—even if that thing is a God-given ministry or a mission. My assignment is to merely present myself to Him each day as an empty and willing vessel trusting that the real work to be done is His work. I am a hammer that needs to be in the Master’s tool box each morning not because He needs me, but because I need Him. If I’m not there God will use another instrument and as a result I will become dirty and rusty. Daily usage keeps a Christian clean.

This was in a sense Samuel’s message to Israel in the passage above. Their focus was everywhere but on God and as a result they were fearful of things not worthy of fear. The admonition Samuel gave to Israel then is appropriate for us today. Let us not focus on the problem, but on the problem solver; let us not curse the darkness, but turn on the Light.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned. Psalm 34:8-22

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Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:19-20

Hannah’s Prayer

Elkanah had two wives and one of them, Hannah, was barren. Desperate and despondent, Hannah prays to the Lord essentially asking, “Give me a son and I will in turn give him back to You.” God answers Hannah’s genuine and sincere prayer.

Although the Bible doesn’t record it, I suspect this was not Hannah’s first prayer regarding this issue; we know she was a Godly women. The passage implies however that this was the first time she prayed in accordance with the Lord’s will. God had a plan for this child (Samuel) that would require His bringing the parents to a special place of prayerful submission. Hannah would have her son, but it would be on God’s terms. Therefore, it stands to reason that when we cannot seemingly come to terms with God, the answer might be, “When you change your heart, we’ll come back to this matter.”

The reality is that prayer changes us and we cannot change God. As we pray and as God answers (He does respond to every prayer a believer raises), we are conformed and our petitions begin to align themselves with His plan–it’s a process we must willingly submit ourselves to. It is then we are truly in prayerful-harmony with the Creator of the universe!

God Doesn’t Answer My Prayers

What stands out from today’s verse selection is that Hannah remembered what she prayed for and gave thanks. We might initially think, “Of course she remembered; this answered prayer was huge and miraculous,” but keep in mind the prayer request was over nine months old. As an application I would ask everyone (myself included), “Do we recall what we prayed for nine months ago?” If we don’t, then how do we know if our prayers are being addressed. Would it not be a shame if a prayer was answered and we forget to give thanks?

Should We Journal Our Prayers?

Journaling is a useful tool and could serve to prevent prayer-layering, the process of layering requests because we have forgotten what we previously have prayed for. An example of prayer layering might be, “Lord, I pray that I might learn to be fully dependant on You for all my needs,” and then praying six months later, “Lord, please move my boss to give me a raise.”

Forgetting and layering only serves to contradict and confuse. God’s answer to layered prayers might not be, “No,” but rather “slow down buddy, we’re still working through the first one!” It’s a trap we all fall into occasionally; I know I have.

I recently prayed for a sign from God before heading down to Haiti on a mission trip. What I had forgotten is that I had years previously told the Lord that I desired to walk by faith and not by sight and that I’d rather He didn’t give me signs before He moved me to do something. It was after going to Haiti by faith that the Lord reminded me of my earlier appeal and how He was abiding in my request.

As for journaling, I don’t as of yet, but that’s just because I have gotten into the habit of praying with others or telling others what I have been praying for. The point is that God does not ignore His children and if you are one who believes He does, you might need to begin jotting prayers down in order to discover the truth and faithfulness of God.


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