Saul, from champion to bad example

What do you know about Saul? Yes, Saul the king, the one before David. What do you think about him? What comes to your mind when you hear his name?

Maybe like me, you think of those following verses: “And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORDhe has also rejected you from being king.” (1Samuel 15:22-23 ESV).

We remember Saul as the king who chose to please people rather than God, who disobeyed and refused to surrender until the end. We know him as the one who pursued David, trying to kill him again and again. But that is only who he became after taking pleasure in being king, after tasting power and fame, after forgetting who chose him, blessed him and used him. Before that, he was quite amazing, even admirable. He was strong, humble, gentle, courageous and didn’t care much about what people could think and say. Just read:

1 Samuel 10: 26-27 “Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched.But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

1 Samuel 11: 5-7 “Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the LORD fell upon the people, and they came out as one man.

1 Samuel 11: 12-15 “Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.” Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

He was chosen and anointed and walked away from that. Before judging him and looking down at him, let check our hearts and see where we stand. Every time we avenge ourselves, take a decision without consulting the Lord, refuse to cut the hand that makes us sin, don’t share our faith or sin to please people or not to be rejected, we are just like Saul.

In 1 Corinthians 10:12,  God tells us: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” We are all in danger of becoming like Saul, of having our heart so hardened that we don’t see God anymore. Let take heed lest from champions for Christ, we become examples not to follow.

A compassionate God

Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36 HCSB)

Some versions say “compassionate” instead of “merciful”. Being compassionate defines someone who has “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. ” And Being merciful is to provide relief.

What the verse above tells us is that when God sees us in our difficulties and sorrows, He wants to help us, comfort us, and soothe us. And because He is who He is; because He is not powerless, He does it: He provides us with relief. How does He give us that relief? Here is an example.

You certainly know the story of Gideon. God called him and sent him to fight against the Midianites. But he was afraid.  So God told him “Get up and go into the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant. Listen to what they say, and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp.” (Judges 7 9-11 HCSB)

God felt a deep sympathy for him. God understood what He was going through. When Gideon went to the camp, he listened to a conversation that gave him courage. God reassured, strengthened him because he needed it. But God went further. He told him to go with his servant. He did not shame him for being afraid, but instead provided him with solutions.

And since God doesn’t show favoritism, there are no reasons it won’t do it for you, no reasons it won’t do it for me.

 

He is generous, not stingy

Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. (Romans 10:12 NLT)

When I read this verse this week, I was astonished. It was as if I have never read it before. Other translations don’t say “generous”, but “richly blesses” for the NIV, “bestowing his riches” for the ESV, “abounding in riches” for the NASB, etc.  So when I read Romans 10 in French on Monday, it was just like the first time. The version french I read says “generous”. It was God telling me, “You see, it is time for you to believe me.” Because, you see, I had a hard time trusting God’s generosity. I could see Him meeting my needs, but giving me only exactly what I need, not more.

Generosity can be described as “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected.” So God being generosity means that He is ready to give us more than we need. He is so generous that He didn’t wait for me to become mature or spiritual enough to trust His generosity blindly, but showed me in His word, in what I know is true, that He is generous. And to read it makes all the difference. I cannot question it, cannot argue with Him because I know He never lies and is reliable.

So what does God’s generosity mean for us, for our daily life?

Only this: “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18 ESV).

One more reason to run to Him.

 

 

Song of hope

 In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong!  We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust. The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it.But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them. Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;  our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right. Your kindness to the wicked does not make them do good. Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong and take no notice of the Lord’s majesty. O Lord, they pay no attention to your upraised fist. Show them your eagerness to defend your people. Then they will be ashamed. Let your fire consume your enemies. Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you. O Lord our God, others have ruled us, but you alone are the one we worship.Those we served before are dead and gone. Their departed spirits will never return! You attacked them and destroyed them, and they are long forgotten. O Lord, you have made our nation great; yes, you have made us great. You have extended our borders, and we give you the glory! Lord, in distress we searched for you. We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline. Just as a pregnant woman writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth, so were we in your presence, Lord. We, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have not given salvation to the earth, nor brought life into the world. But those who die in the Lord will live;  their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead! Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed. Look! The Lord is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins.The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see. (Isaiah 26 NLT)

No reason to love

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Genesis 25:28 ESV)

We know exactly why Isaac loved Esau. He loved him because of what Esau could give him. But we don’t know why Rebekah loved Jacob. Maybe it was because he was a quiet man. Maybe because he spent a lot of time with her. Or maybe she just loved him. The Bible gives us no reason for her love. Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for game and Rebekah just loved Jacob.

The way Rebekah loved Jacob reminds me of God’s love. Why does God love us? Why does He love you? Because of… There are just no reasons given for God’s love. Concerning the Israelites, God says: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

So God loves us for no reason, which means there is nothing we can do that will cause Him to stop loving us. His love depends on Him, and only Him. If you are brilliant, spiritual and beautiful, He loves you for no reason. If you are none of those, He still loves you for no reason. He Just loved you. And that is why Jesus died for us while we were God’s enemies. But that is another story for another day.

Worth more than many sparrows

There are so many important things in this world, and when we compare the very details of our lives to them, they seem so meaningless. In the midst of all the catastrophes our world faces every day, in the midst of all the sufferings people go through, who can possibly care about how many hairs you have on your head? God does.

Because we think that the small things that fill our days are not of so great significance, we don’t even think of mentioning them to God. Why pray about details when there is more important at stake? So we pray for what we think God cares about, and we keep living burdened and tired because we are not doing the very thing that would set us free and give us rest.

God is the Lord of the universe. He controls stars and seasons; sets up kings and removes them; deals with angels and nations. Yes, it is the God of big things. But if He were only that, He wouldn’t be God. He is God because He controls even the most meaningless things that happen in this universe. He takes care of the tiny details of our lives. If He knows the number of your hairs, be sure that He knows your smallest dreams and cares. And because He wants you to be sure of it, He asks you to cast all your cares on Him, not the biggest one, not those that seem decent, all of them. From your weight issues to your singleness, from your work problems to your cravings, God wants to hear about them all. He cares about them all.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10: 29-31 BSB)

Self-esteem (2)

Have you ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw? Have you ever looked at your personality and wished you were different? If you are a little like me, you did. The good news for all of us who don’t like much who we are and what we see in us is that how we feel about us does not change who we are. We are people created according to a plan and a purpose.  We are not accidents. Who we are did not come about by chance. True, we live in a fallen word and our sins disfigure the perfect workmanship of God that we are.However, that does not change who made us, how and why. Created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), we were planned. God thought of us, of how we ought to be before our conception.

The next time you feel worthless, the next time you are treated like the bottom of the barrel and think it is normal, remember who made you. Remember that you are not a mere accident. Remember His purpose. No one will never be able to take that away from you. Remember who you look like. Remember and rejoice. Remember and give thanks.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)