April 3

Read I Samuel 8 -- 11

In Today's Reading:

Samuel's evil sons; Israel demands a king; Saul chosen; Saul begins as a humble ruler, defeats the Ammonites, and delivers Jabesh-gilead

During the history of the judges, Samuel accomplished more as a spiritual leader than any other judge. When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges . . . .However, his sons . . . took bribes, and perverted justice (I Samuel 8:1-3). Eventually, all the elders of Israel . . . went to Samuel . . . . They said . . . you're old, and your sons haven't lived according to your ways. Therefore, appoint a king for us, like all . . . nations have. . . . Samuel considered their demand evil (8:4-6). However, the LORD instructed him. . . . It isn't you they have rejected (but) they have rejected Me as their king (8:7). Samuel anointed Saul king in Ramah as the Lord had directed him. After a brief time, Samuel summoned the people to the LORDat Mizpah.He said . . . you have rejected your God, the One who saves you from all your dilemmas (10:17-19). He then presented Saul to them as the one whom the LORD has chosen. . . And all the people shouted, Long live the king! (10:24).

The first test of the new king came when Saul was told that Nahash the Ammonite king had put his army in position to attack. The Ammonites had not attacked the Israelites since Jephthah, a hero of faith (Hebrews 11:32), had defeated them many years before (Deuteronomy 2:19; 23:3-4; Judges 3:13; 10:7; 11:5). Responding to this current threat, Saul called together men from all the tribes of Israel to be his soldiers.

Saul led the Israelites in a spectacular victory. As he finished his first battle, he shouted: Today the LORD has provided deliverance in Israel (I Samuel 11:13).

Saul had a good beginning, but pride and self-will soon became his way of life that resulted in a succession of failures. This illustrates the temptation that often follows success, the deception of pride that inevitably leads to a self-centered life (Matthew 16:24). The assumption that we have the ability to make decisions as to what is best for our lives and no longer need to pray for guidance is a reminder that Jesus said: You can do nothing (that has eternal value) without Me (John 15:5).

Christ Portrayed:

By Samuel who faithfully served Israel as judge, prophet and priest. Jesus was the Prophet promised through Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15); He is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14); and one day He will judge all mankind: The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).

Prayer Needs:

Country: Uganda (23 million) in eastern Africa · Major languages: English and Luganda · Religious freedom · 51% Roman Catholic; 30% Protestant; 10% animist; 7% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Study and heed the instruction of the word of God that your prayers may be heard (Proverbs 1:28-30).

Optional Reading: Acts 4

Memory Verse for the Week: I Peter 2:2