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READY TO DIVE INTO WEEK 4?
GOD’S AFFIRMATION THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCE
Last week we left off at the end of chapter nine, where Samuel said to Saul:
“Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.” (1 Samuel 9:27)
As we enter into chapter ten, we learn what that word or message from God actually is.
After Samuel poured a flask of oil onto Saul’s head and kissed him, as was custom, verse one continues on as Samuel says, “Do you see what this means? God has anointed you prince over his people.” (1 Samuel 10:1a) (Other versions say leader rather than prince, but like we learned in Week 2, God doesn’t refer to Saul as king. He is not king in God’s eyes, for God Himself is the True King).
Continuing on with the message from God, Samuel explains it to Saul in two parts:
1. He began by affirming what was brought to light in chapter nine. When God whispered to Samuel to expect Saul’s arrival into town the following day, He explained in 9:16 that Saul’s main task as leader was to save the Israelites from the hand of the Philistines. Therefore, Samuel was explicit in explaining to Saul that this was his principal duty as leader.
And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. (1 Samuel 10:1b)
2. The second component in the message from God was the description of three events that would affirm and validate the authenticity of what had been said during the anointing. By each event coming to fruition, it was to prove to Saul that God could be trusted and in all actuality, the anointing was indeed carried out on God’s behalf and per His instructions.
Saul was told that as he departed Samuel, later that very day, he would meet two men by Rachel’s tomb. These men would tell him the donkeys were found and his father no longer cared about the animals, but was anxious about where he was instead. (1 Samuel 10:2)
Saul learned that as he continued on further, he would come to the great oak tree of Tabor where three men would meet him on their way to Bethel. One would carry three young goats, another held three loaves of bread, and another with a skin of wine. Saul is informed that as the men greet him, they’ll give him the loaves of bread, which he was to accept. (1 Samuel 10:3-4)
The significance of this was that only a priest could take this holy bread, but as the Lord’s anointed, he has become a sacred person and was allowed to accept this sacrificial offering as food. The Lord must have impressed upon these gentlemen on their way to sacrifice, that he was indeed a man set apart.
As I’m sitting here pondering this, wishing God verbally spoke confirmation over my everyday life, I believe God actually does do this for us. He may not be as verbally specific as he was with Saul, but even so…God shows us where to move. He speaks through promptings in our hearts. Quiet clarification and affirmation.
Can you think of a time He’s done this in your life, or in the life of a friend?
Here’s a little example I witnessed not too long ago: our prayer group, which we call Petra is small. We want it small and intimate. We’re keeping it that way on purpose. And yet, I kept having this nagging feeling on my heart to invite in a girl I had met on Instagram who had become a real-life friend. Last year I had my annual Let’s Party Like Girls night and randomly invited her. And she randomly came. By herself. She felt God prompting her to step outside her comfort zone and show up at my door with fifty other ladies, though she knew no one. Technically, not even me. But we quickly hit it off and adored each other.
I of course brought up the idea of inviting this girl into the arms of our cozy little prayer group with the other Petra girls, before mentioning it to my new friend. As texts buzzed in, we were all laughing and in awe of the Kevin Bacon type stories going back and forth and we were shocked that nearly every one of us knew her already, and all through separate circumstances. Their kids were in class together, they were in a seminary class together, they had randomly met through a friend…the stories went on and on.
Truly, it was weird…but more of a God-had-already-set-things-up kind of weird.
He’ll open up doors and bring people into our lives. He will construct situations and circumstances.
Shortly after graduating college, I interviewed for five or six different non-profit jobs I was really excited about. Each time it was down to me and another person, and the other person got it. Because I was running out of time and money, not really wanting to move home with mom and dad, I ended up interviewing for an unexciting position in an unexciting industry. And I got the job. It was there that I met my husband, Ben.
So again, I didn’t have God’s voice being spoken over me by a prophet, but I had His voice directing me, nonetheless.
After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” (1 Samuel 10:5-8)
This third and last sign occurs at a city called Gibeath-elohim, which may indicate Gibeah, Saul’s own city. The quick mention of the Philistine garrison (or outpost) being nearby proves to be a reminder once again of the threat he is to remove with his reign. Apparently God was pounding the concept into his head! There would be no mistaking this chief responsibility.
A CHANGED HEART
We learn in verse nine that as Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart. And as predicted, as he approached town, he met a procession of prophets prophesying while playing lyres, tambourines, flutes, and harps.
His life may have already changed the day earlier when he met Samuel, but it’s here…with these prophesying priests that his very actions would change because of the transformation in his heart.
Verse six says,
Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
Using the Hebrew language in this verse, I could translate it further to say:
As the breath of the Lord rushes up onto you in power, you will be transformed, overturned, and changed into a different man and will prophesy alongside them.
Today we understand that the Holy Spirit came into the heart of Saul and he was changed from the inside out because as Christians, we’ve also been transformed. But remember, this was before Pentecost where the Spirit of God came upon all believers (see Acts 2). Things like this didn’t happen to ordinary men like Saul so in 9:11-12, we learn that men who knew him disapproved. These were possibly guys he’d grown up with his whole life and were therefore critical and thoroughly confused by his behavior.
I suppose though, this may not be too different than some of us. We lived one way when we lived for ourselves…but after inviting Jesus to be Lord of our lives, we too are changed.
Sometimes our friends and family don’t like the new us. Your story is likely without dancing in the streets and prophesying with prophets, but the very essence may be the same: a dramatic change. Maybe joy suddenly seeps from your pores. Maybe your priorities changed. Or your behavior, or what you thought was funny (and what wasn’t).
The Spirit of God changes. It changed God’s anointed leader…and it’s changed us.
It’s also sometimes hard for those from our own communities to see us as the person God has made us to be. Jesus Himself was mocked in the town he grew up with because he was seen as the son of a poor carpenter, and nothing more. Certainly not the Messiah. Definitely not someone who would change the world.
And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” (Mark 6:4)
Maybe you’ve felt that within your family or community, too.
TAKING TIME WITH GOD
We should take note that directly after all this happened, Saul went immediately up to the high place (1 Samuel 10:13). It’s presumed that he bee-lined his way there to worship God, but likely he also needed a place to be quiet and regroup. He needed to step away and let it all sink in, and sought the place where he expected God’s presence to be.
This is something that each of us needs to do when any sort of spiritual transformation or assignment from God takes place. Like we talked about in Week 2 (especially in the Study Guide), it’s of upmost importance that we take time in the quiet to hear from God. Not that we can’t hear Him amidst the noise of life, but it’s in the silence that we’ll more easily hear His whisper.
Saul’s whole life had suddenly turned upside down and I have a feeling the newly anointed leader of Israel wanted to take a little time-out to recognize the Lord’s involvement in it all…and listen to God Himself to ensure the reality of it. He’d had Samuel as the voice of the Lord. Now Saul wanted to hear His voice with his own heart and wait the seven days (10:8) until he’s joined once again with his mentor.
If you have yet to do the Study Guide for Week 2 where we delve into the value of being still and silent before the Lord. Download it by heading to the Library (the password is at the end of all the emails I send out). And if you have already done Week 2’s guide, I urge you to dive in further by doing it!! Spend that quiet time with God.
Don’t just know you should do it…actually do it!
NEVERMIND. THIS CALLING IS TOO BIG
When Saul came down from the high place, his uncle approached him.
Saul's uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”
And Saul's uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.”
But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything. (1 Samuel 10:14-16)
This is totally just in my mind’s-eye but I can see Saul’s uncle standing there before him after Saul finished talking. His uncle just looking him up and down with a bewildered look on his face. If he hadn’t paid witness to the dancing and prophesying, he definitely would have heard about it. I can see his eyes sizing up his nephew, feeling like there was something different about him, but couldn’t put his finger on what. With a furrowed brow, he turns from Saul shaking his head and walks away.
Leave it to the uncle to bring Saul back down from the mountaintop. This totally reminds me of being at camp as a kid and coming home on the biggest high. I was inspired, ready to take on the world! I could do anything and was excited to tell everyone around me what I learned and how I grew.
I bet you know what I mean when I say it only lasted a few days before people started rolling their eyes at me, making me severely second-guess myself.
The same thing happened when my husband and I first started talking about adopting older kids. We were told by everyone around us, “You will destroy your family.” And that’s a quote.
But no, we’d heard from God and so had Saul. Our callings are all different and they’re often massively outside anything we could have planned for ourselves. God’s exciting that way: He can flip our futures around so dramatically…and so quickly. He’s the master of transformation.
Saul’s response to his uncle was evasive. He didn’t tell the whole truth, the whole story. I suppose this half-truth could have been told because he wasn’t sure the time was right for his new status to be declared. Perhaps it was so big, he couldn’t speak the words aloud yet.
Just because God has given us a specific calling, it doesn’t mean we’re wholly prepared for it immediately. If Saul was a bit shy or insecure or had a hard time making decisions on his own, like we’ve learned the past few weeks may be the case…he may still struggle in these ways.
We’ll learn that Saul soon grows in confidence, both in his title and decision making capabilities, but it’s likely he just wasn’t quite there yet. If you have a calling that seems way too big for you, just rest in it and continue working in it. God will grow you for it, as well.
We don’t know how much time goes by before verse 17 shares with us that Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah and gives them a message from God:
“I brought Israel up out of Egypt. I delivered you from Egyptian oppression—yes, from all the bullying governments that made your life miserable. And now you want nothing to do with your God, the very God who has a history of getting you out of troubles of all sorts.
“And now you say, ‘No! We want a king; give us a king!’
“Well, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get! Present yourselves formally before God, ranked in tribes and families.”
After Samuel got all the tribes of Israel lined up, the Benjamin tribe was picked. Then he lined up the Benjamin tribe in family groups, and the family of Matri was picked. The family of Matri took its place in the lineup, and the name Saul, son of Kish, was picked. But when they went looking for him, he was nowhere to be found. (1 Samuel 10:18-21)
So Saul’s missing. You want to know why? You want to know where he was??
Saul was hiding among the baggage. Are you rolling your eyes? I am. For goodness sakes, not only is he in the baggage, but this guy has baggage if he’s so lacking of self-confidence he holes and hides when his name is called!
The funny part is it’s our omniscient and all-knowing God who tells Samuel where Saul has hidden himself.
Verse 23 says that some people ran over and brought him out. Is this funny to you like it is to me?
When I picture this, I see Saul acting like one of those lost donkeys he was supposed to go and find. Donkeys aren’t the most obedient and submissive of animals and I can just see someone finding Saul and pulling him by the arm, like one would pull a donkey by a rope…resisting and pulling back the whole while.
But here’s the thing. Maybe I roll my eyes and think Saul’s ridiculous…but how often have I done the same thing? How often have you?
We are overwhelmed by something we know we have to do. Something we may have even been excited about five minutes prior…and then bam, we hide in the luggage.
We hide, thinking “Who am I to do this?!” Or “If God really knew me, there’s no way He would ask this of me. He’d know this isn’t even close to something I could do myself.”
And you know what? He’s not asking you to do it by yourself. And he’s not asking Saul to do it alone, either. He had Samuel, right? He had God’s prophet, one who our Heavenly Father spoke to as his mentor, guide, and friend. When we surround ourselves with encouraging, like-hearted people, Jesus loving people, we also have a Samuel…or a Jethro (see Week 3).
But more than this though, let’s not forget we’ve learned earlier in this chapter that the Holy Spirit had entered into Saul’s heart. He didn’t just have an earthly man by his side…He had God!
People often say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”…and for a long time I actually thought that was in the Bible. But you know what?! Not only is it not in the Bible, it’s horrible theology.
It’s untrue. Of course He’ll give us more than we can handle. He’s God! If we could do every single thing ourselves, why would we ever think we needed Him? Why would we lean on Him for strength or boldness or fortitude? Think about it. Honestly, think about it. Why would God put you in a life of ease where you could do it all yourself?
So yes, He will give more than we think we can do...but He will also prepare us.
Moses also didn’t want his calling.
As God spoke to him at the burning bush in Exodus 3, Moses responds first by saying,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
And later in chapter four, Moses clings to inadequacy and fear as he tells the Lord,
“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
And you know how God responds to him? God basically says, “Who gave you that mouth? Now go! Obey.”
I am absolutely and completely terrified of the calling God has given me. Firstly, that I am mom to six children…six little hearts (four of which are quite wounded) that Ben and I are to guide and shepherd. The thought of failing them stops me in my tracks at times.
And then the calling of writing and being vulnerable in front of thousands of people. To have them read my blog or draw what they like from my Instagram feed. To know that when my book gets published, it could get horrible reviews and people could shred it and me to threads.
That God is asking me to speak. He’s asking me…like Moses, who wasn’t eloquent of speech. Me…the girl who is actually incredibly uncomfortable being in the limelight, but craves instead to hide behind a computer.
And ohmygosh you guys, leading all of you through 1 Samuel. Studying 25+ hours a week on the scripture I will be teaching each week is amazing and I truly love it, but it sometimes wraps me up in fear because to use Moses’ words again: Who am I to be called to do this? What if I screw up? What if I’m boring or don’t explain things well? What if (gasp!!) you don’t like me!!
But with all of these things, I know…without a shadow of a doubt that Christ has called me to them. And who am I to disobey Him when I’ve seen His goodness and love and faithfulness through other situations where I have been stretched and put out of my comfort zone?
We try to teach our kids that just because something is hard, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It doesn’t mean it’s something we should give up and move on from.
We’re not living life to the fullest if we coast through a life of ease. It’s the hard things that grow our character, right? Isn’t that what we as parents try to instill into our children? Well then we need to lead by example. Not only that, but we need to be vulnerable enough to share with those around us that we’re walking way outside our comfort zones. Let others hold our arms up when we can’t do it ourselves.
Do you remember in Exodus when God told Moses to raise his hands so their enemies would be defeated in battle? Whenever his arms were raised, the Israelites were winning…but when his arms lowered, the Amalekites began to win.
But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. (Exodus 17:12)
It’s ok to need people. It’s ok to be vulnerable and share weakness. God is God and we are not. Of course our hands will grow weary…pray that the Lord will give you strength, yes! But also be allow others to pray for you, to lift up your hands and help lift your load for a bit.
I learned long ago, when bringing home each kid from Ethiopia that I couldn’t do things all by myself. I let perfection go and humbled myself enough to say “yes” to help. Yes to meals or someone I’d barely met folding my laundry. Someone to go grocery shopping for me or sweep my floors. Things I should do, but I was to weary for at that moment.
God prepared Moses and He is preparing me. We’re learning how He’s equipping Saul…and guess what, He’s doing the same for you, too. Let’s pray also that we are surrounded by folks who pull us out of the baggage so we may stand tall, knowing we are right where God has called us.
After he was brought out from his hiding place, Saul finally stands there, head and shoulders above anyone else. With wide eyes and not a trace of the arrogance we see in him later on, the nation now knows it’s him. Saul, son of Kish is the new leader of the Israelites. (1 Samuel 10:24)
I can't wait to continue on next week!
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