Do You Really Want God to Do What You Ask Him?


1 SAMUEL # 6 CHAPTERS 10 & 11


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This is an age-old story line, repeated all the time in books and movies. A young man goes looking for some donkeys, and comes back three days later at the king of his country.

OK, so it is isn’t a normal or well-known tale. But I love, in part because it seems almost random. Yet in that randomness, we can see God at work. That gives me comfort when events in my own life seem both ordinary and random.

In chapter 8, The elders of of Israel gathered and asked God to give them a king. They asked Samuel to ask God for that, and to show them who God wanted. Then they all went home.

The narrative suddenly switches, and 1 Samuel chapter 9 tells us about a young man who went out with his servant to look for some lost donkeys. The young man was named Saul. He was not at the meeting where the people asked for the king. He was not seeking the Lord, or going on a pilgrimage to a place of worship. He was just doing his job, which at that moment, was to find his dad’s lost donkeys.

After a few days of wandering in the hills, Saul and his servant decided to give up. As they turned back, they were near Samuel’s hometown. Saul’s servant knew this, and suggested that they ask Samuel to ask God where the donkeys are. Saul wasn’t sure about it, because they had nothing to give Samuel, but the servant had some money. Saul then said, basically, “OK, if you think it will helps us find the donkeys.” In other words, he has no desire to see a prophet in order to get closer to God, or to learn God’s will for his life. He just wants God’s help in accomplishing his own mission.

We learned at the end of chapter seven that Samuel used to travel around to various places in Israel and lead worship and judge disputes and share God’s words with the people. Even though Samuel did not live very far from Saul (compared to other areas of Israel) he had never met him. This implies that Saul had not, up to that point, been particularly interested in God. He obviously had never been to Samuel for any other purpose, and he obviously had never taken a sacrifice to worship with Samuel when he was in Saul’s area. Even now, he seeks Samuel not because he wants to know God, but because he’s lost his donkeys. His focus is not on the will of God or on relationship with God, but rather what Samuel can do for him.

So by this point, we can see something things about Saul. The first few verses tell us that he was an unusually tall and large man – the tallest man in all twelve tribes. He was also handsome. But other than that, there is nothing out of the ordinary about him. He isn’t particularly persistent. He isn’t especially patient, or spiritually sensitive. He’s just an ordinary person, except that he is very big, and impressive to look at. He had no clue what was coming.

Samuel, as always had been talking to God and listening. As we study this book, I think Samuel is becoming one of my favorite heroes of the faith. The people wanted a king. God told Samuel he would grant their request. So Samuel went back to work, and waited for God. He didn’t immediately go out and try to find a king for them. He talked to God and listened, and then, some time later, God told him when to anoint the first king. So when Saul showed up in town, Samuel was ready. He recognized him as the person God had chosen to be the answer to the request of the people of Israel. He treated Saul as if he had been expecting him (and actually, he had, since God told him to expect him) and made him a guest of honor at the feast he was going to.

After the feast, Saul was Samuel’s guest. They spoke for a long time. Later, in private, Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head, to anoint him as king of Israel. The significance of oil was that it represented the Spirit of God. The idea was, that with the oil, the Holy Spirit was poured out onto Saul, and he was to be God’s chosen instrument from now on. This is one of the big spiritual differences between the time before Jesus, and the time since his resurrection. Before Jesus, you see that God generally filled only one or two people with His Holy Spirit in each generation. It was as if he had just a few chosen instruments for each lifetime. But the prophet Joel predicted the great change that would come after the Messiah:

28 ​​​​​​​After all of this ​​​​​​I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. ​​​​​​Your sons and daughters will prophesy. ​​​​​​Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; ​​​​​​your young men will see prophetic visions. 29 ​​​​​​​Even on male and female servants ​​​​​​I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29, NET)

In Acts 2:17, on the day of Pentecost, the Lord gave his Holy Spirit to all 120 followers of Jesus. Peter quotes this prophecy from Joel and affirms that it was fulfilled from that day on. And so, from that day on, God’s chosen instruments to work in this world are every single person who trusts in Jesus. It is no longer one or two people in a generation – it is all of God’s people. We are all given the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do God’s work here and now.


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