God changed Saul’s heart

The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
1 Samuel 10:6-7 (NIV)

Read: 1 Samuel 10:1-27

Consider: It is clear from the Bible that Saul was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel, even though the people only wanted a king because all the nations around them had kings (1 Samuel 8:5).  We read in 1 Samuel 8 – But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king’ (8:6-7).  Even though the Israelites were rejecting God, he granted their wish. If we think back to the Israelites’ time in the wilderness, we can see how they rejected God on a number of occasions.  God was again demonstrating his patience with the people of Israel.

We know from later chapters that Saul was an erratic leader, prone to jealousy and rage, and this was directed at David, who would succeed him as king.  Did God make the wrong choice by allowing Saul to be king?  The people of Israel needed to see the imperfections that a human king had and the demands he would make upon them.  Samuel took time to explain to the Israelites what a king would demand of them (see 1 Samuel 8:14-17; 10:25).  Despite this we are told: But the people refused to listen to Samuel.  ‘No!’ they said, ‘We want a king over us.  Then we shall be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles’(8:19-20).

God could have left Saul as he was, as this would have revealed the weaknesses of the Israelites’ king very quickly.  However, this was not what God chose to do.  Samuel told Saul that as he went on his way after being anointed as king, he would have three signs that would confirm his appointment:

  1. he would meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, who had news from his father;
  2. he would meet three pilgrims near the great tree of Tabor, who would share food with him;
  3. he would meet a procession of prophets at Gibeah of God and God’s Spirit would fall powerfully on him and he would prophesy with them.

At this point we read of Samuel telling Saul: And you will be changed into a different person (10:6). This might have confused Saul, as Samuel was not saying he would become someone else, but that God would change his heart.  We read: As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day (10:9).

At this point we could ask the question: For whose benefit were the three signs (confirmations) given?  It cannot be for Samuel because he had the word directly from God that Saul was to be made king.  It cannot be for the people of Israel as they were not party to any of the conversations between Samuel and Saul.  The signs could only be for Saul’s benefit.  Seeing the signs fulfilled was to give Saul confidence that he was chosen by God to become king.  The signs should also give Saul confidence during his kingship when faced with difficult situations.

It will be for another time to discover how Saul lost God’s blessing and forfeited his kingship to another.

Finally notice that God did not leave Saul to fulfil his God-given role alone: Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched (10:26).

If you are involved in any aspect of Christian ministry, take heart from the fact that God has called and set you apart for the task in hand.  It is important not to see your task as a solo effort, but to surround yourself with men and women whose hearts have been touched by God, and with whom you may share the work.

Pray: Father, we thank you that in the example of you choosing Saul we see the importance of and need for a changed heart, so that our will conforms with yours.  We also see the need to surround ourselves with those whose hearts have also been touched by you, and with whom we can share the tasks ahead.  Amen

Every blessing

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