“Perfect Decisions” ( 1 Samuel 16:6-8 LEB ) by Carley Evans


People look at the outside; they judge others by their appearances. God never does this! Instead, God looks at the heart. How often do you find yourself measuring a person? Often? I suggest you not do this, for you can’t see that person’s heart. Yes, you can tell something about the person by his or her actions, but even that is subject to your biases. Instead, I recommend leaving the judgment to God. He’s the only One qualified to judge other people.

When they came, he saw Eliab and said, “Surely his anointed one is before Yahweh!” But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For God does not see what man sees, for a man looks on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel, and he said, “This one also Yahweh has not chosen.”

And, we need to recognize that God makes choices; sometimes, His choices are difficult for us to understand. He does not select a person for a particular task or mission based on human reasoning. Rather, He knows the motivations and the outcomes. He knows what is best. Trust Him more to make the perfect decisions.

“A Conditional Treaty” ( 1 Samuel 11: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


The Ammonite Nahash besieges Jabesh-gilead. The defeated men beg Nahash to make a treaty with them on the condition that they serve him. But the conqueror replies, “I’ll make one with you on this condition: that I gouge out everyone’s right eye and humiliate all Israel.” The elders of Jabesh say, “Don’t do anything to us for seven days. And let us send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. If no one saves us, we will surrender to you.” (1 Samuel 11:3)

Nahash must not be very intelligent. Why allow messengers to go about the territory seeking help for a conquered people? Nevertheless, Nahash allows this very thing! He allows these defeated people to seek a savior.

The messengers reach Saul’s hometown, Gibeah. They tell Nahash’s terms to the people who begin to weep loudly. Saul, coming in from fieldwork with his oxen, becomes aware of people crying. When Saul hears the reason for their sorrow, “the Spirit of God suddenly takes control of him, and his anger burns furiously.” (1 Samuel 11:6)

In his fury, he takes a team of oxen, cuts them into pieces, and sends them throughout Israel with — I presume — the same messengers. The message Saul sends is: “This is what will be done to the ox of anyone who doesn’t march behind Saul and Samuel.” (1 Samuel 11:7) The people “go out united” because the “terror of the Lord falls” on them.

The messengers return to Jabesh-gilead to tell the people there that deliverance is at hand. Rejoicing, the men go to Nahash and say, “Tomorrow we will come out, and you can do whatever you want to us.” (1 Samuel 11:10) The next day, Saul — with troops in three divisions — invades the camp of the Ammonites and slaughters them. “There are survivors, but they are so scattered that no two of them are left together.” (1 Samuel 11:11)

Obviously Nahash would be better off if he’d just make that treaty with Jabesh-gilead — plenty of servants, the result. No need to set such a wicked condition as gouging out the right eye of every man, woman and child. For Nahash winning is not enough. He wants total humiliation of his enemy.

Ever think of that way — that Satan isn’t satisfied with ruling in hell. It’s not enough for him that he ‘escapes’ the realm of heaven and roams the earth, that he controls demonic forces and defies God at every turn. He must bring us down with him — he is unable to bear the fellowship Adam and Eve enjoy with God in the garden. He must destroy this joy. He must totally humiliate us before God. Happily, God provides more than a Saul or a Samuel for us. Our deliverer is Jesus, the Son of God. With God, no conditional treaty is needed. Utter defeat of our enemy so that “no two” of his forces “are left together” is what we enjoy because of the power of our God.

 

“A Foolish Oath” ( 1 Samuel 14 : 28, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


For some reason, Saul places an oath on all the fighting men of Israel, commanding them to refrain from eating after defeating the Philistines. He says to his soldiers, “The man who eats food before evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies is cursed.” (1 Samuel 14:24) This seems almost like a boast. As a result of Saul’s foolish arrogance, no one eats. Even when they find honey on the ground in the forest, these men – out of fear – obey Saul and do not eat. As a result, they are all weakened and “worn out that day.” (1 Samuel 14:24)

Saul’s son, Jonathan, has not heard Saul’s command, so he dips the end of his staff in the honey and eats it. “When he eats the honey, he has renewed energy.” (1 Samuel 14:27) The other men, who have not eaten, “rush to the plunder” – presumably once evening has come – and “take sheep, cattle, and calves, slaughter them on the ground and eat meat with the blood still in it.” (1 Samuel 14:32) In this way, they each “sin against the Lord.” (1 Samuel 14:33) These men have not broken a man’s foolish command, but have disregarded God’s commandment.

Saul recognizes the seriousness of this disobedience; and calls for an altar to be built to the Lord. Oddly enough, this is “the first time he has built an altar to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 14:35) Afterwards, rather impulsively, Saul calls for his men to “go down after the Philistines tonight and plunder them until morning. Don’t let even one remain!” And his soldiers reply, “Do whatever you want.” (1 Samuel 14:36)

The priest reminds Saul that the Lord should be consulted. Saul asks God, but God does not answer. Saul decides the Lord is silent because “a sin has occurred today.” (1 Samuel 14:38) He calls for the death of that sinner, even if it proves to be his own son, Jonathan. Saul’s soldiers again say, “Do whatever you want” (1 Samuel 14:40) So, Saul casts a lot to determine if the sin is from the troops or from himself and Jonathan. The lot falls against Saul and Jonathan. Saul immediately wants to know what his son has done to make the Lord angry. Jonathan admits to eating a little honey. He also adds, “I am ready to die!” (1 Samuel 14:43)

But the troops intervene. They tell Saul that Jonathan “worked with God’s help today” and “accomplished a great deliverance for Israel.” (1 Samuel 14:45) In this way, “the people redeem Jonathan, and he does not die.” (1 Samuel 14:45)

Saul does not appear to fully grasp the foolishness of his command. Rather, he arrogantly wants to pursue and destroy all of the Philistines with famished, exhausted troops. He wants his vengeance before any man among his troops eats. When he becomes aware of the greater sin against the Lord – eating meat with the blood still in it – , he builds an altar but then decides upon a course of action without consulting God. Ignoring the greater sin, he then accuses his men and his son of breaking the oath he commanded. When the lot falls against himself as well as against Jonathan, it does not even occur to Saul that it may have been his foolish oath that angered the Lord. Instead, he asks his son, “Tell me what you did.” (1 Samuel 14:43)

The people stand between Saul – who is unjustifiably self-reliant – and his son, Jonathan who leans upon the Lord to accomplish the deliverance of Israel.

“The Lord Calls” (1 Samuel 3: 7, NIV) by Carley Evans


When Samuel is a child, God calls him three times. This is a time when “the Word of the Lord [is] seldom heard, and no vision [is] granted.” (1 Samuel 3: 1) Samuel is in the service of Eli; sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. Samuel does not know the Lord; the Word of the Lord has not been disclosed to him. Yet, God calls him three times.

God calls a child who does not know Him; He calls him into His service. God appoints Samuel His prophet even before the child knows Him.

When God calls, Eli instructs the child in his service to respond, “Speak; Your servant hears You.” (1 Samuel 3: 11)

Samuel obeys Eli. As he grows up, the Lord is with him. And all of Israel recognizes that Samuel is confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. “So the Lord continues to appear in Shiloh, because He revealed Himself there to Samuel.” (1 Samuel 3: 21)

The Lord calls; the Lord reveals Himself before we know Him; before His Word is disclosed to us.