Ponder: 1 Samuel 11:12-15

Perceive: Although Saul was anointed by Samuel a Ramah and publically chosen at Mizpah, it is his defeat of the Ammonites that confirms his rule as king of Israel. Just after his selection a group of dissenters rejected their new king. At this time some people want to put to death the early dissenters but Saul majestically intervenes and thereby averts a mob rule which spares the lives of some men who previously were outright rebellious. Instead of focusing on the maliciousness of some men who now support him, Saul rallies all the people and directs their focus on the greatness of God.

Practice: Take some time today to think about your kind of Christianity. Are you someone who focuses more on your problems or more on the promises of God? Lord, help me to lean on you today and always. Your greatness is beyond comprehension.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 11:1-14

Perceive: Saul in his early role as king has a few great moments. In this text he is filled with God’s Spirit and exercises a righteous anger. Anger is a powerful emotion. It often drives to act in ways that hurt other people with abusive speech or physical violence. In contrast, anger directed appropriately toward sin and the abusive mistreatment of others is not always wrong. Saul’s anger at the Amorites was justified since they were attempting to humiliate and mistreat his fellow Israelites.

Practice: When some sort of injustice or sinful behavior makes you angry, ask the Lord how you can channel the anger in a positive way to bring some sort of biblical change. O lord, help me to stand up for righteousness when others are mistreated. Show me how to be your servant when injustice is at hand.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 10:17-27

Perceive: The prophet Samuel gathers the people before the Lord to present to them their new human king. In his opening comments he reminds them that God is the true king and by demanding a human leader instead of the Lord they are in fact rejecting their true King for an earthly one. God gives them a king that looks great on the outside but is not so good and wholesome on the inside. When the Israelites assembled to select their king Saul knew he was the chosen one yet, instead of coming forward, he hides in the cover of baggage. Even before his coronation he displays signs of weakness and low self -esteem.

Practice: Two things stand out in this section. Are you rejecting God by pushing Him aside and making someone or something your first priority? It is by God we are saved from calamities not human beings. The second one is dealing with our own inadequacy. Often we hide from important responsibilities because we are afraid to fail, afraid of what others may think, and not sure exactly how to proceed. Stepping into a role that God has assigned is sometimes like Peter getting out of the boat. You won’t know what is going to happen until you take that first step. It’s time to lean on God’s provision rather than holding back because of a sense of inadequacy. Step up and step out!

Ponder: 1 Samuel 10:9-16

Perceive: A prophet is a mediator between God and men. He is God’s spokesman relaying what he hears and sees in visions or dreams. A priest is a mediator that represents the people to God. He intercedes on the Lord’s behalf of His people. A king is mediator of God’s judicial and executive power as he rules in the name of Jehovah. In this section of Scripture, we see Saul speaking God’s words as the Holy Spirit impacts his life. While God may tell a prophet to speak about an event, He is more concerned with a prophet instructing and inspiring the people to live in faithfulness, something king Saul new little about. As a Christian man, you are to act a godly prophet by speaking the truth of Scripture to those in your sphere of influence. All godly men are: empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:18), able to share a message of sin, salvation, wrath, and grace (1 Cor. 15:1,2), expounders of God’s truth as it has already been revealed (2 Tim 4:2), and desirous of prophetic truth (1Cor 14:1).  They work at being: strong on knowing and applying God’s word, responsible for accurately delivering God’s word to those in their sphere of influence, and concerned about social change in line with God’s delivered word.

Practice: Lord, forgive me for all the times I have failed to speak your word of truth. Help me to be faithful in delivering the message of hope and forgiveness as well as to warn of the consequences for rejecting who you are. You are Lord and as reigning Lord you offer the gift of eternal life to all who truly repent and receive as Lord of their life. Help me speak this truth daily.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 10:1-8

Perceive: When a king took office he was not only crowned, he was also anointed. In ancient times the coronation ceremony was the act of establishing the new king as a ruler. The anointing of oil was the religious act of making the new king God’s appointed representative to the people. He was always anointed by a priest or prophet. Anointing oil was poured over the king’s head to symbolize the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and act as a reminder to lead the people by God’s wisdom. Israel's kings were to be subordinate to the leading prophet and to his prophetic word. Saul and all the other kings after him were to derive their royal authority secondary to the Lord's authority. But as so many leaders go, very few seek God first including Saul. Saul was commissioned, prayed over, anointed, and provided with several affirming prophecies including possession of the Holy Spirit. Before he departs Samuel gives him specific instructions which he must follow through.

Practice: Have you ever had someone try and take advantage of you by asking you to bend the rules? Someone who acts like they respect your authority and position but not the authority you are under? Saul was that kind of man. Ultimately he rejected the authority of God. How about you? Do you want others to bend the rules for you? If so, you too are rejecting the authority that is over others.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 9:15-27

Perceive: As part of their search for donkey’s Saul and his servant seek help from Samuel the prophet. Unexpectedly, Saul is confronted with the opportunity to be Israel’s first king. His initial reaction reveals a lot about his character and competence. After hearing Samuel’s commissioning speech he says, “Why do you say such a thing to me?” which demonstrates his feelings of inferiority. From his beginning what he said and did was selfish and laced with false humility. Although Saul was called by God and given a mission in life, he constantly struggled with jealousy, insecurity, arrogance, impulsiveness, and deceit. He was not wholeheartedly committed to God. He was a half-heart and not a whole-heart. Real humility leads a person to be curious about and concerned for others. Humility is putting others first in thought, word, and deed.  It resists the temptation to be preoccupied with self.

Practice: Help me to live a whole-heart obedience, knowing that whatever you call me to do, I need to do whole heartedly as though I am serving you and not man. Forgive me for all the times in my life I have thought of myself and not put others first.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 9:1-5

Perceive: It is interesting to note that God uses some missing donkeys and a future kings inept search to orchestrate a divine appointment. Far too often we view the random events in our life as something that just happens to us, but as we learn from so many stories in the Bible, God may use common ordinary moments to lead us where He wants us. Divine appointments happen daily and are designed to form us into the kind of people that God can use.

Practice: Take a few minutes to think about the good and the bad circumstances that have happened to you over the last few days or week. Can you see God's purpose in them?  God loves to use divine appointments to build into your life and lead you to serve Him in a new way or a new area.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 8:8-18

Perceive: Samuels characterization of Israelite kings is a great description of government yesterday and today. As the government grows, so grows the need for more resources. Just like human resources are wanted for a monarchy's maintenance, money and equipment resources are wanted for increasing entitlements for domestic causes as well as local and national defense. Unfortunately, large quantities of materials are needed to sustain a bureaucracy. The bigger the bureaucracy, the more resources are needed. Six times Samuel uses the word take in his description of a ruling king. Unfortunately, take and more take is the normal process for growing government. Placing this growing burden on the backs of citizens eventually reduces them to slaves.  Later on the people cried out for relief from the king as though he were an enemy and the Lord was slow to answer and give them relief. We too have a choice in whom we elect as our leaders. Poor choices can have great consequences. Today far too many people feel their leaders are an enemy to their way of life and their exercise of freedom and it feels like the Lord is slow to answer. Could it be we are reaping the consequence of a miss-placed faith?

Pray: Lord, help me today to pray for those who are in governing positions of our nation. Convict them of their need to see your face, to know your word, and to make laws that help all the people live better lives. Convict them of their sin.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 8:6-9

Perceive: Samuel was a godly man and even though the request of the people disturbed him, he took it to the Lord in prayer and the Lord answered him. His people wanted a change in their nation but not in their hearts. What they need was a rekindled faith in God not a trust in a strong willed man. When we seek God to lead us but continue to live by the world’s standards and values, our faith is flawed and weak. God must lead the heart and rule the mind.

Pray: Lord, help me with the demands of the people in my life and ministry. Forgive me for allowing the world to impact my faith versus my faith to impact the world. Help my home, church, state, and nation rekindle a trust in You.

Over the next few months, my blog will focus on the Life of David through a chronological reading of Scripture. I hope to create a devotional for anyone who wants to become a man or woman after God's own heart. Our story begins with the nation rejecting God and asking for human king.

Ponder: 1 Samuel 8:1-5

Perceive: Changes in leadership often reveal the true character of followers. In this situation Samuel’s sons were so bad that even their father could not deny the nations concerns. It is in the solution, Samuel struggles. The people wanted a king to lead just like other nations. In reality the people were rejecting God and His divine leadership for a nation that ran on human inspiration and presence. The situation for us is similar: Do we rely on God’s strength and leadership or follow the way of the world and human reasoning?

Pray: Lord, help me today to walk in your ways, listen to your word, and strive to be a man of God, a man who gives you the throne of his heart.