Sunday, November 19, 2006

Back Stage Pass or Dinner for Two? (1 Samuel 16)

Imagine not being invited to the party, but instead being assigned shepherd duty while your father and seven brothers got back stage passes with Samuel. Samuel was a prophet people trembled before. To be a guest at one of his sacrifices and meals required a special invitiation. To your surprise your dad gets an invite for the whole family, but SOMEONE has to stay behind with the stinkin' sheep. Guess who gets picked? That's right, the youngest. David was the youngest of his seven brothers and held the position of least honor as the youngest male. When Samuel's invitation arrived at Jesse's household, David was left with the responsibility of the flocks while the other males went to meet with Samuel.

At the party, Samuel was eager to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as Israel's new King. Samuel, looking at appearance and height of stature, was quite certain that the oldest son was he. Interrupted by the Lord, Samuel was reminded that the Lord looks inwardly into a man to make his selection, as opposed to relying on outward physical characteristics to enable a man to fulfill the role of King well. Then, one by one, each of the older brothers got passed by. The Lord had not chosen any of them.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch and to David's surprise, he was wisked away from the sheepfold to stand before Samuel. God had chosen him. Smelling of sheep and not of the same physical presentation as his impressive older brother, the last to be presented was indeed God's man who would be annointed as King.

God can look into the heart. He is able to do what man cannot. In our story, He is willing to withhold the judgement of a man as influential as Samuel in order to bring his will about in the life of an individual. God must really want David's leadership in Israel to happen, because He additionally enables David to accomplish the task by giving him the gift of himself, the "Spirit of the LORD"(v.13).

As a Christian and in like manner, God is so sold on my part in His plan to bring the good news to all nations, that he has enabled me fully to do it by giving me the gift of Himself, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Beyond living with Him and loving Him, I have a commission before me. His good news is to reach all nations, and He's been moving toward that goal since the first sin of man. Yet, I am worth more to Him than a hired worker or a concert attendee. I have a special place of intimacy in his heart.

Now, If I were David, I would have had a pity party because I did not get the back stage passes. I have a friend who amazingly wins regularly from contests on the radio. She's always getting the goods! She's got a magic cell phone, I tell you! I really want to go to the concerts, to be included in all the great prizes. But the truth is that God has a dinner for two planned. He's given me the larger gift by looking into my heart, commissioning me in His will, and giving me the gift of Himself.

I guess the question I ask myself today is this:
Is the backstage pass my greatest desire? Or am I trusting and relishing in dinner for two?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Monument to Oneself (1 Samuel 15)

Having already shown public impatience for waiting on God's timing and command (Ch.13), Saul's rejection of God's sovereignty came full circle in this chapter. God gave a specific command to Saul before he defeated the Amalekites. But as victory came by God's hand through the Israelite soldiers, Saul chose to disobey. He obeyed only the portion of God's command which required no personal sacrifice. He lost nothing in that portion of obedience. But those portions of the spoil that could be of great benefit, Saul chose to keep them for himself with a good dose of religious justification. In doing so, Saul officially was removed from the throne as Israel's King.

After the battle Saul erected a monument to himself in Carmel. Also, instead of killing Agag (King of the Amalekites), Agag was kept as a living monument to Saul's greatness. Agag's people had been wiped out, but as Saul's prisoner he would be a living reminder to everyone of Saul's victory. This time there was no mention of the Lord's victory from Saul's mouth.

When Samuel appears to confront Saul, the first words from Saul are, "I have carried out the command of the Lord"(v. 13). Nice try. When confronted by Samuel, Saul goes on to explain the disobedience by blameshifting. It is now the people who chose not to obey...and according to Saul they were just on our way to make a sacrifice and give it all to the Lord. So smooth with his justification! But God saw beyond the lies. He looks at the heart.

In contrast to Saul's monuments to his own greatness, Samuel speaks of the Lord in a new and unique way. The Lord is named, "the Glory of Israel." This name directly contradicted Saul's actions in building monuments to his own glory. The reality that Saul faced that day was a choice each of us face. Will it be our greatness that we erect for people to see? Or will it be the Glorious One who people recognize as we live out our lives?

May the Lord continue to discern and discipline the workings of my heart
as I seek to use well the gifts He has provided in my life.
© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, November 10, 2006

In Need of Rest? (1 Samuel 14:24-52)

Eager to please God after being rebuked (Chapter 13), Saul gave a command that wearied his troops. They may not eat until they have accomplished victory against the Philistines. Jonathan publicly disobeyed his father's declaration and led the people in gratifying their hunger. Abandoning self-control, the soldiers began slaughtering the spoil and eating the meat with blood still in it. For Israel, eating the blood of an animal was not acceptable according to God's Law. But they were very weary, and fulfilling their hunger was their first priority after withholding for the duration of the battle.

Jonathan's wisdom told him that his father made a poor leadership decision as King. But in his own rebelliousness, he ate and led the people against the King's command. In judging his father, Jonathan also made a poor leadership decision. Israel's soldiers responded with self-fulfillment as their first priority.

The author of 1 Samuel repeated, "the people were hardpressed," "weary," and "very weary;" and couples it with the closing comment, "Now the war against the Philistines was severe all the days of Saul" (v. 24, 28, 31, 52). Their strength was waning as a nation and as individuals. By the end of the chapter, I feel pity for this young nation.

Sin brings about chaos, both publicly and privately. It creates unrest within the soul. Sin sends us striving for affirmation, for personal victory without God, for anything that will bring us temporary rest. It is at the foot of the cross that we rest, through grace that cannot be earned. Our place of rest and exaltation is the cross of Jesus Christ. He did the work to salvage our souls.

Can you rest today? Is the work of Christ and His greatness enough for your soul to relish in, though life may be chaotic? Rest, my friend. One thing is enough (Psalm 27).

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.