Confrontation is rarely pleasant but frequently necessary. We all need a Samuel, someone who cares more about our character than our image or comfort. Often, that kind of loving honesty calls for sharp words. "You have played the fool" is never easy to hear, but when it comes from the mouth of a trusted, godly friend, we must hear it and take heed.
Insight for Today
Written by Chuck Swindoll, these encouraging devotional thoughts are published seven days per week.
When the people located their new king, they celebrated. And why not? This was a glorious day. Saul was tall, strong, modest, and had the full support of his nation. From a human point of view, this was a beautiful start to a new era.
From the time that Joshua died until Saul took the throne of Israel, the Hebrew government was not a monarchy like most surrounding nations. Theologians refer to it as a theocracy—“God-rule.” The Lord ruled over Israel, issuing His decrees and governing through prophets and priests.
As for Samuel, the boy who heard God's voice, the closing words of this episode tell us that the sleepy, spiritual indifference that had lulled Israel into complacency was about to come to a screeching halt. A man of action was on the scene, and Israel's spiritual drift was about to end. Even as a little boy, he not only heard the Lord, but he obeyed His voice.
The key word is authenticity. Not perfection, for no one gets it right all the time. But being real. Admit your faults, own them completely, ask for forgiveness, be quick to give it, allow children plenty of room to fail, and let them see you live your life behind the scenes with love, grace, and humour. All of that takes time and effort, both of which will cost you productivity on the job. Consider it a priceless sacrifice...a permanent investment.
God has preserved fascinating stories for us to leave us with enduring lessons. Fathers in particular need to take heed. It has been my observation that Eli's paralysis of leadership is not uncommon...even among those in ministry. As a father whose vocation is service to the Lord, I have made it my intentional mission to avoid the failure of Eli. I urge you to do the same.
You can't always tell from Scripture whether God's voice is audible or "heard" by some other means. When Saul (later Paul) was on the road to Damascus, he heard the voice of the resurrected Jesus talking to him in a vision, and the sound could be heard by his entourage. It was audible.
The setting is Israel before the glory days of King David. There has been a long period—a couple hundred years—of intermittent warfare, cycles of events during which Israel would suffer invasion followed by famine; then a judge would emerge and win a temporary peace.
Nine months before that wondrous night in Bethlehem, the Father sent His Son. Christ willingly left His seat of absolute power in heaven, set aside the voluntary use of His divine authority, and became a helpless infant. As a human, subject to all the pains and sorrows and limitations that affect us all, He would mature, learn, minister, suffer...and die. If the Father was willing to release His own Son to us, what could be so much more precious to us that we would withhold it from Him?
This isn't a movie. As far as Abraham was concerned, the drama didn't have a surprise ending. The knife goes up in order to bring it down into his son's chest or across his throat, and what will happen next is the death of his boy. This is real! This is faith in the wild where the stakes are incredibly high—life and death!