The Desire to Hear HIM Well
As I journey through first Samuel once more, a deep longing of desire overwhelmed me when I came to chapter nine. Not only did I enjoy the story, it felt new! I was pulled in by the intimate detailed conversations between Saul and Samuel and their first meeting and introductory days near Mizpah. Was this story always this beautiful? The new beginnings for Saul, Samuel and a persistent Israel are quite captivating. Saul, who knew little to nothing about Samuel is unknowingly led by God (with the help of a servant) right to the proverbial doorsteps of a well-informed prophet who God had prepared in detail to anticipate his arrival.
The Bible tells us, Samuel was now old. His sons (Joel & Abijah) who Samuel had appointed to lead Israel were reported to have turned aside after dishonest gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice—reminding us much of the sons of Eli, the high priest who tiny little Samuel had replaced. Which meant the old man Samuel had to continue in his role as prophet and judge over Israel until the LORD could find someone of the same spirit.
The backdrop of this scene is of course not good. God’s heart is broken. His people have rejected Him and asked for a king. Samuel is grieved, but God insists he should listen to the people and do as they have asked. It is in the midst of this grief where God permissively grants Israel’s request that something beautiful emerged out of the chapter for me personally—deeply endearing my heart to the God of Israel.
For one, He (God) cautions the people of what having a king might mean for their properties and their sons and daughters. When they insist to go forward, He does not begrudge them or treat them with resentment—even though he would be completely justified to withdraw His participation and presence from the entire thing. Instead, God remains loving and engaged. He even guides Samuel through a VERY detailed process telling him that He would be guiding a young man to him the next day and what Samuel is to say to him.
Can I please point out that God’s character is SO deeply endearing to me?! He is impressive, above reproach and simply amazing! He had judged the house of Eli and raised up Samuel. He could dwell on the sin of the sons of Samuel or the collective stubbornness of the hearts of the house of Israel, or He could simply walk out of this and let Israel figure it out—but He doesn’t. Instead, He simply moves forward with the vessel that is willing, faithful and yielded to Him not being hindered by Samuel’s age, the people’s rejection of Him, or the omniscience He holds to know what Israel’s future was going to look like in just a few short years. He talks to Samuel, he asks him to anoint Saul with oil. Read the details. Samuel is able to give Saul blow-by-blow details of what his journey back home would look like. God even fills him with the Holy Spirit and literally–changes the man to equip him for the job, signifying that He dearly cares for His people even when we are walking outside of His ways. What a heart! This is beautiful; totally worth emulating!
I gleaned quite a few practical lessons from this passage today, but the deepest longing it awakened in my soul that brought me to my knees before heaven was the intimacy God shared with Samuel. Samuel did not have to guess or wonder what God was saying—he heard God clearly and consistently. The instructions Samuel gave Saul were accurate and reliable. They were the VERY words of God! “You stay here for a little while” he had told Saul “so that I may give you a message from God”. These words would make any 21st-century Christian cringe (because of how misused they have been), yet this was how Samuel had led Israel, and he would be the very same channel God would use to visit Jesse—regarding God’s own choice for King (David). So I got on my knees this morning and I prayed earnestly “Lord, I desire to hear you exceptionally well.” Lead me, guide me, and grant me such intimate clear lines of communication with you, that I too like Samuel (in spite the wrong or evil that was going on with his family or his nation) will be able to hear you my LORD with a rare clarity—and speak reliable words that will lead your people to honor your great name.
Marlene Maina // 9.1.17