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Doing Good is Not Obedience

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Scripture:
1 Samuel 15:13-15 When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
Observation:
Saul had been told to destroy everything that belonged to the Amalekites, but he thought he knew better than God. Looking at the beautiful sheep and cattle, they couldn’t bear to do what God had instructed. Instead, under the guise of making a sacrifice to God, they brought the best sheep and cattle with them. 
Look carefully at what Saul says, “to sacrifice to the Lord your God.” He makes this about Samuel’s God, and not his. We have seen how he has been moving from God’s presence and distancing himself from accountability before God. N…

Serving God or Man?

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Scripture:
1 Samuel 17:8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.
1 Samuel 17:26 David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
1 Samuel 17:47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”
1 Samuel 18:12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.
Observation:
This is the familiar story of David and Goliath but there is something interesting happening behind the scenes. We had seen earlier that Saul was not made new, but simply different during a time in which he experienced the presence of the Spirit. By now,…

Different or New?

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Scripture:
1 Samuel 10:6-8
6 Then the spirit of the LORD will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. 8 And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”
Observation:
Something unusual, or even strange seemed to have happened to Saul after he was anointed. He was sent off by Samuel to meet up with a group of prophets. They were actually a band of men who worshipped God, but also studied law and were a voice for civic responsibility among the people. They had just spent time in worship of God and were filled with the Spirit. As Saul joined in, he too became overcome.
This incident is a bit of a foreshadowing of the appearance of Christ and the promise of the Holy Spirit. At th…

For The Wrong Reasons

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Scripture:
1 Samuel 9:1-2
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 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; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

Observation:
The Israelites had determined that they needed a King. They had been warned about this and what it would mean for them, but they wanted to be like every other country. Because they wanted to be like very one else, God allowed them to be drawn to someone with the qualities that they found appealing. Whereas God, their loving Father, was willing to care and provide for them in return for their fidelity to the relationship, they sought out an individual who would fulfill their worldly dreams. 
We are introduced to Saul in the first two verses of 1 Samuel 9. This is the young man who is to become the very first king of Israel. He had the right pedig…

Coming Full Circle

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Scripture:
1 Samuel 7:12-14
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
Observation:
When the ark of the covenant was lost it was removed from Ebenezer and ended up at Ashdod. This signified a movement from a place where the people had trusted God, to self-protection. Sadly, God’s people, who were to be holy, were no longer in God’s holy presence. 
Now, the journey seems to have come full circle. The ark had been returned and Samuel, their new leader called the people to faithfulness. They turned away from the other gods and d…

Oh To Be an Ordinary Cow

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Scripture:
1Sam. 6:10   The men did so; they took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors. 12 The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.
1Sam. 6:13   Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they went with rejoicing to meet it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh, and stopped there. A large stone was there; so they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the gold objects, and set them upon the large stone. Then the people of Beth-s…

From Ebenezer to Ashdod

Scripture:
1Sam. 5:1   When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod; 2 then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
Observation:
The Israelites thought that if they took the presence of God with them in to war, they would be victorious. Therefore, they grabbed the ark of covenant and took this most precious container of God’s presence with t…