Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's appearances that we love

3:51 p.m. Today's project was to teach I Samuel Chapter 16 to our Thursday ladies' Bible study. In a mere 23 verses, the nation of Israel has been turned upside down! The Lord has stripped the kingship from disobedient Saul, and taken His Spirit from him as well. Yet Saul continues to appear to reign, for all intents and purposes as far as the people know. A distressing spirit from the Lord came upon him, and his fits of depression and rage were well known in his court.

We had quite an extensive discussion as to whether the Holy Spirit can be removed from a believer in Christ, and we came to the consensus that once a believer rejects God's commandments repeatedly, rejecting the wise ministrations of the Holy Spirit, he runs the risk of being open to demonic spirits due to his own repeatedly sinful and defiant choices: the places he or she goes, the people they associate with, the distorted thought patterns they adopt. (For future reference, Hebrews 10: 26-31 offers a severe warning to straying believers).

King Saul's biggest and most prominent supporter, the prophet Samuel, had been mourning Saul's downfall ever since it happened, but God was ready to move on. He states at the beginning of the chapter,

How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your flask with oil and go: I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.

Samuel expresses outright fear about going to find a new king! "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me."

We had some interesting conversation at this point. Would Saul really have killed Samuel? Ancient kings certainly killed their disloyal subjects and rivals, as both Saul and David did later on. And Saul had threatened to kill his own son Jonathan for breaking a fast he knew nothing about! But God had Samuel covered, just as He has us covered in every situation in which He places us. Psalm 46:1 says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Samuel took a heifer to sacrifice, and invited Jesse's male family members to the feast.

As each of Jesse's seven older sons passed before him, Samuel kept thinking, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him!" But God gave one of the most important concepts in scripture to Samuel, who apparently found a tall, handsome "Saul clone" when he saw the oldest son Eliab,

Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Eventually David, the youngest, was called in from tending sheep and Samuel "anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward."

It wasn't long before David was called in to soothe Saul's rants with his praise songs and skillful playing on the harp.

We humans spend so much time making sure our outward appearance in all of its facets, including our physical appearance, clothing, house, car, job, even the church we attend, make us look good in the eyes of others. Additionally, we spend an inordinate amount of time judging the outward appearances of other people. Folks we can't imagine speaking to can end up as wonderful fellow believers once we get a glimpse of their hearts. And those who initially look perfect in our eyes turn out to be anything but, once we get a glimpse of their hearts!

ONLY GOD KNOWS THE HEART OF EACH PERSON! And what does He say about the human heart? Check out Jeremiah 17:9-10.

The heart is deceitful above all things,

And desperately wicked;

Who can know it?

I, the LORD, search the heart,

I test the mind,

Even to give every man according to his ways,

According to the fruit of his doings.


At first, I added the picture of the furious Queen of Hearts with the spiritually oppressed King Saul in mind, but now that I think of it, she could represent you or me, when we don't take the time to keep up our treasured appearances!

Be as real with others as we are with God! As James 5:16 says (NKJV),

Confess your trespasses to one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

Appearances fool no one!

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