REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 2, 2015; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
1 Samuel 9:1-27 (ESV)
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. 3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them. 15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.”
One of the questions that have always come to my mind in reading 1 Samuel 9 is: “Why did God direct Samuel the prophet to choose Saul as the first king of Israel?” For those who know the story, Saul was a horrible king who rejected God’s commands and was self-serving, murderous, and insane towards the end of his life. God certainly could have kept this man from the throne, yet not only does He permit Saul to become king, but He is the active agent in the process of bringing Saul to power. Was this simply a case of not reading Saul’s resume carefully and making an unfortunate hiring blunder?
Actually, God hired exactly who the people of Israel wanted. They wanted a king just like the kings of the surrounding nations, and so they received the desires of their heart. In the text, we are told that Saul was a head taller than any of the people. From a human perspective, it would seem good for a king to, at least, look the part, but the problem is that in the Old Testament, descriptions of stature are only given to the villains (remember Goliath?). In fact, the good guys are identified primarily by their ability to tend their flocks, like a good shepherd. We read in the story that Saul falls woefully short in his capacity to find the animals in his care. This is all a foreshadowing of the type of king that Saul would eventually become.
It is so easy to judge everything by its exterior appearance and forget about what truly matters. Like the people of Israel, we too can become consumed by our desire to achieve the world’s standards of prestige, fame, good looks, and fortune. A sobering thought is that God sometimes gives into our illegitimate demands in order to teach us the hard lesson of humility and to point us towards Christ. Unlike Saul, Jesus, the true King, was lowly in stature and despised in the eyes of men. Yet for those of us who believe, He is our Good Shepherd, who has come from heaven to earth to find us and to care for us.
Prayer: Father, help us to remember that You do not judge by the outward appearance, but by what is in the heart. May we clothes ourselves in the humility of Christ and help us to reflect this attitude in the things that we desire and pray for. Above everything else, purify our motives and give us pure hearts that yearn to do Your will. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 42
Lunch Break Study
Read James 4:1-6 (ESV): What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Questions to Consider
- What is the main cause of fighting and quarrels among believers according to James?
- Why are prayers not being answered by God?
- What is the solution that is given for these problems that we find in the church?
- The primary reason for quarreling among Christians is the spiritual war that is within each of us. All of us are a mixture of good and evil, and simultaneously both saint and sinner. Much of our conflict with others is simply an overflow of the uncontrolled conflict that resides inside our own hearts.
- The main cause of unanswered prayer is asking with the wrong motives. Even the most legitimate prayer request can be corrupted by our selfishness and desire to satisfy our own passions.
- Simply put, we need more of the grace of God. If we continue to depend on our sense of self-sufficiency and pride, we compound the problem by facing the opposition of God. Humility releases the grace of God into all of the relational issues that we face in the church.
Is there someone that you have been fighting with recently, perhaps your wife/husband, children, friend, etc.? How did your pride make the problem worse? How can humility bring reconciliation? Pray to the Lord for more grace in the midst of conflict in your life.