April 3

Read I Samuel 8 -- 11

During the history of the judges, Samuel accomplished more as a spiritual leader of Israel than any other judge. It is sad to read that Samuel's two sons, whom he had appointed judges, did not follow his godly example, but . . . took bribes, and perverted justice (I Samuel 8:1-3). Eventually all the elders of Israel . . . came to Samuel at Ramah, And said to him, Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. . . . But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed to the Lord (8:4-6).

Samuel prayed and was willing to leave the outcome with the Lord, who said to Samuel, Harken to the voice of the people . . . they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them (8:7). Samuel anointed Saul king in Ramah as the Lord had directed him. After a brief time, he called the people . . . to Mizpeh; And said . . . You have this day rejected your God . . . and you have said . . . Set a king over us (10:17-19). He then presented Saul to them as the one whom the Lord has chosen. . . . And all the people shouted . . . God save 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 Jabesh-gilead (11:1). This city, belonging to the half-tribe of Manasseh, was located on the eastern side of the Jordan River and bordered Ammonite territory. The Ammonites were old enemies, but they 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 threat, Saul called together men from all the tribes of Israel to be his soldiers. They assembled at Bezek, about 15 miles southwest of Jabesh-gilead. They marched all night and, in a surprise attack early in the morning, defeated Nahash and his army.

Saul led the Israelites in spectacular victory: They . . . slew the Ammonites (I Samuel 11:11). As Saul finished his first battle, he shouted: To day the Lord has wrought salvation in Israel (11:13). Then Samuel called the people to go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom (covenant). . . . There they sacrificed . . . peace offerings before the Lord (11:14-15).

Saul had a good beginning, but pride and self-will soon became his way of life and resulted in a succession of spiritual failures. This should be a warning to us concerning the deception of pride that leads to a self-centered life. Saul represents the professing Christian who remains proud and undisciplined (Matthew 16:24). Another subtle deception after a time of success is the assumption that we have the ability to make decisions that are best for our lives and no longer see the need of praying for guidance. It is still worse when we lose our desire to do the will of God and manifest a determination to remain successful at any cost. Let us say with Jesus: I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me (John 5:30).

Christ Revealed: Through the favored food set before Saul (I Samuel 9:24). The shoulder denotes strength; the breast which went with it denotes affection, peace, and fellowship. Christ, through His Word, is our spiritual food which imparts strength, love, peace, and fellowship to all who read His Word (John 6:51,53-58).

Word Studies: 8:12 ear means plow; 9:26 spring of the day means dawn, the first coming of light; 10:1 vial means a container; 11:1 encamped against means to put his forces in position to attack.

Prayer:

Pray for the Bible Pathway International Shortwave Radio Outreach · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by Bridges for Peace · Country: Cape Verde (405,000) 15 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 390 miles off the coast of Africa · Major languages: English and French · Religious freedom · 91% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for His mercy and loving-kindness (Psalms 86:15).

Optional Reading: Acts 4

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:33