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Here we read about a country that talks big about their God and has a just and righteous spiritual leader who has recently blessed their new king and yet walks in fear and rejection of that same faith. Samuel gets the people to verify his motives and reminds them of God’s great gifts of release from Egypt and conquest of Canaan so that they will listen to warnings concerning their gradual loss of faith. For a period, Israel repents for worshipinig idols of Ball and Ashtoreth and calls upon the Lord for deliverance. Until recently, the only possession of value was a person’s good name and Samuel refers to God’s good name. Samuel warns that God will bless them, however, only if they serve and obey and a severe winter storm as called by Samuel underlines this warning.

Acts 13: 21 informs us that Saul ruled for over 40 years, but there is some confusion about what is meant by v 13:1 (the New Living Translation just steals from Acts as per note f and somehow concludes the number 42). Some believe some number is missing, but it likely just means that Saul had reigned for two years. When the Philistines mobilize a major military offensive at this time, Israel runs from their homes to hide. After more and more of Saul’s army deserts and getting rebuked by Samuel for violating God’s commands to follow Samuel, Saul retreats leaving the Philistines to raid at will. Saul’s army had dwindled to 600 men, twice the number had by Gideon, except that they did not have Gideon’s faith. Uncertain times test our trust in God, not our strength of character.

Jesus attributes His material directly to God rather than to any rabbinical training and maintains that anyone who chooses to do God’s will would recognize it. He likely angered the Jewish leaders by outright claiming that they had not been keeping the OT Law and the refusal of their own guards to arrest Him surely only made the Jewish leaders angrier (more on this tomorrow). He also confounded them by possessing an advanced grasp of their religion without ever being apprenticed to any of them (the same bewilderment is later expressed regarding Peter and John in Acts 4:13). The Message Bible translates Romans 10:17 as “The point is, Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ's Word is preached, there's nothing to listen to.” As we covered yesterday, without Christ, where else is there to go. It often, however, takes time to find every other path dead ends. It took time even for Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude, to believe and become church leaders. Here they sarcastically (explained in v 5) suggest that if Jesus could really do miracles that he should do them in front of the largest audience in Jerusalem at the time of a feast. So, don’t write off those who at first don’t respond to the Gospel. It rightly takes time. Jesus also tells His brothers that the world could not hate them (because they were a part of it), thusly wholly responding to the Gospel also takes courage (“But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders”).

It is a vital principle that to develop a spiritual understanding a person must make a conscious and determined choice to do God’s will (v 17). If we make that choice, God will show us what His will is. John 6:45 clearly defined “appointment” as being taught by God to those that can “hear and learn” implying both knowledge and reason as the basis for belief. This means that it is current comprehensible instructions of the Holy Spirit that “ordains” and not some pre-time predestinational lottery or spiritual caste system of saved and reprobate. The strength of the eleven disciples that stayed true to Christ came by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). To say that God works both good and evil in us (say, saved and reprobate) and that we are subject to God’s workings only by some passive necessity (where free will operates only at some higher level – see Martin Luther’s “The Bondage of the Will”), creates mankind as good with only a evil work wrought by God that makes God the author of sin (as well as the author of salvation) who punishes (or rewards) a person for doing only what God by the sole exercise of His own power irresistibly coerces man to do. It is one thing if God only knew the lost (or saved) and their choices before time and quite another if God determined their nature and fate before time just as there is a difference between God knowing, say, when you would be born leaving no doubt on which day it would occur and that He foreordained your birth.

The etymological origins of the Greek word tasso sometimes translated to ordained (although more likely to appointed) comes from “to place” as to place in a certain rank or order as in specifically disposing a body of soldiers in regular military order (see Barnes Concordance). Tasso is uses in eight places in the Bible denoting a command or designate (Matt 28:16, Acts 22:10, Acts 28:23), to institute, constitute, or appoint (Rom 21:1), determine, to take counsel, to resolve (Acts 15:2), to subject to authority of another (Luke 7:8), and to devote to (1 Cor 16:15). The word is never used to denote an internal disposition or inclination and does not properly refer to an external decree or to the doctrine of election. In the Greek translation of the OT, the word is used in Ezekiel 9:1 “And he cried in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, draw near, ye that have appointment of the city, and every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.” It is used only to refer to a forgone conclusion of the facts. Thus, we must be always careful to check the facts and our interpretation of them. The Jews, for example, wrongly assumed that Jesus had been born in Galilee because He lived in Nazareth, but if they had checked the records they would have learned that He was, in fact, born in Bethlehem and a descendent of David. Jesus tells them that even if they knew where he came from, their problem was still that they did not know God.

Psalm 108 is actually a medley of two other of David’s psalms (v 1-5 are from 57:7-11 and v 6-13 are from 60:5-12) about the assurance a person can have when God is his or her Lord. The remarkable fact about the words “I will rejoice” (v 7 KJV – “in triumph” in some translations) is that they are spoken by God. The Lord celebrates in delivering His people.

1 Samuel 12:1-13:23

It appears to me that Samuel is asking Israel to examine his character so that they can judge the integrity of his ministry to them and the truth of his words. Since a false witness breathes out lies, if Israel finds anything amiss in his dealings with them, then what he is about to tell them has no weight as truth.

Samuel rehearses in all of Israel’s hearing how God has dealt with them and delivered them even when they are unfaithful to God. Even in their unfaithfulness, God gives them their hearts’ desire, Saul. In translations other than the NLT you can clearly see the play-on-words God uses to describe their newly appointed king and Israel’s relationship with him, the one that God picked. Remember that in Hebrew Saul means “Desired.”

13 "Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. (NKJ)

God has set Saul over them as king, but Israel picked him! So remember as we read on about Saul, what they wanted they got. Saul’s character reflects the desire of Israel’s heart. The Apostle Paul states this very thing in the first chapter of the Book of Romans (24).

Footsteps of God has debated and searched for understanding of the first verse of chapter 13, what is that number and what does it mean. In my English translation of the Jewish Bible, The Tanakh, it says two years. In a conversation I had with a Jewish scholar about this uncertainty we kind of came to an interesting possibility about this verse. There are two types of leadership, spiritual, one appointed by God, and political, one appointed by man. Saul’s reign as king of Israel in the eyes of God was two years; however his political leadership over Israel was 42 years.

When we come to the thirteenth verse of this chapter, we find this,

13 "How foolish!" Samuel exclaimed. "You have disobeyed the command of the LORD your God. Had you obeyed, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your dynasty must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the LORD's command."

Note that this Word doesn’t say that the Lord will choose a king but that he has already chosen one!

There is a political agenda then there is God’s. Which one will we as Christians pursue, God’s or ours?

John 7:1-30
There are a lot of things to chew on in this section of John, but I am drawn to three things near the end of our reading.

1) The Religious Leaders, and we do too; use an unequal form of “judging.” They and we judge ourselves by our intentions but we judge others by their behavior. Jesus brings to them their objections about Him healing on the Sabbath when they “work” on that same day to adhere to the Law of Moses (note Jesus didn’t say God’s law) to do circumcision. If they consider what Jesus did, heal, work then what they do is also work. (21-24)
2) They question whether or not Jesus could be the Messiah because no one is bothering him even though they are aware a “hit” has been placed on his life. Has leadership accepted Him? If they have maybe He is. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
3) In the beginning of the chapter we read that Jesus stayed in Galilee, going from village to village staying out of Judea because leadership was looking to kill Him, yet in the thirtieth verse it states:
30 …but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.

God’s will is always played out in the fullness of time.

Psalm 108:1-13
Saul needed the 411 of this chapter of Psalms. He could have used that 13th verse,

With God's help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.

Proverbs 15:4

Life and death is in our tongues.

Grace and peace,

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