Friday, April 10, 2009

Eye eye, sir!

Today is Good Friday, but in our reading, we are introduced to Saul, son of Kish. "Saul, a most handsome young man. There was none finer—he literally stood head and shoulders above the crowd! "
What an auspicious beginning!

God tells Samuel that Saul is the chosen king. Samuel gives Saul four miraculous signs that he is the chosen one, and anoints him. All come true, and Saul recieves the holy spirit and starts prophesying with a group of prophets.

Later, 17 -18 "Samuel called the people to assemble before God at Mizpah". He gives them a message, lines them up, and begins a process of elimination to pick the king. Saul is chosen.

Samuel presents Saul to the people as their new king, and they all go home. Nothing much has changed at that point. In fact, "the riffraff went off muttering, "Deliverer? Don't make me laugh!" They held him in contempt and refused to congratulate him. But Saul paid them no mind."

Things were about to change. Over across the Jordan, the Israelites were suffering.

"Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was brutalizing the tribes of Gad and Reuben, gouging out their right eyes and intimidating anyone who would come to Israel's help. There were very few Israelites living on the east side of the Jordan River who had not had their right eyes gouged out by Nahash."

(OK, the picture shows the patch over the LEFT eye. Sorry!)

Word goes out, and 6 -7 "The Spirit of God came on Saul when he heard the report and he flew into a rage. He grabbed the yoke of oxen and butchered them on the spot. He sent the messengers throughout Israel distributing the bloody pieces with this message: "Anyone who refuses to join up with Saul and Samuel, let this be the fate of his oxen!"
7 -8 The terror of God seized the people, and they came out, one and all, not a laggard among them. Saul took command of the people at Bezek. There were 300,000 men from Israel, another 30,000 from Judah.
9 -11 Saul instructed the messengers, "Tell this to the folk in Jabesh Gilead: 'Help is on the way. Expect it by noon tomorrow.'"

With that kind of manpower, and an unsuspecting enemy, "At first light they broke into the enemy camp and slaughtered Ammonites until noon. Those who were left ran for their lives, scattering every which way."

BIG victory for Saul and his brand new kingdom.

15 "They all trooped out to Gilgal. Before God, they crowned Saul king at Gilgal. And there they worshiped, sacrificing peace offerings. Saul and all Israel celebrated magnificently. "

Lovely ending to a beautiful story, right? Not quite. Old man Samuel has some things to say...

13 -15 "So here's the king you wanted, the king you asked for. God has let you have your own way, given you a king. If you fear God, worship and obey him, and don't rebel against what he tells you. If both you and your king follow God, no problem. God will be sure to save you. But if you don't obey him and rebel against what he tells you, king or no king, you will fare no better than your fathers...
19 Then all the people begged Samuel, "Pray to your God for us, your servants. Pray that we won't die! On top of all our other sins, we've piled on one more—asking for a king!"

God is telling them through Samuel, and us too - I God am sufficient for you. I want you to live your life in dependance on me. When you depend on any of your human props, you dishonor me. Don't depend on yourself. Dont depend on your money. Don't depend on your skill, or talent, or beauty, or health or connections. Depend on me, and me alone.

Aye aye, SIR!

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