Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saul and the Holy Spirit

Right now I'm working my way through the Old Testament. I started with Genesis, and I'm pretty much just reading straight through. I'm in 1 Samuel right now, and I'm seeing some awesome things I hadn't noticed before.

Saul was an answer to prayer for the Israelites. They had been asking for a king, and even though God wanted them to be happy having him as their king, he granted their request. God gave all kinds of warnings to the Israelites about what having a king would mean, but they didn't really care. I think it's so interesting that God would answer the prayer of his people even when he knew it wasn't necessarily what was best for them. It makes me want to be a lot more deliberate in saying, "Here's what I want, God, but I really want your will for me, so help me to want what you want." It's also another good reminder that we tend to be so short-sighted, and God sees the big picture.

I'm starting to get the connection between the prophets of the OT and the prophecies of the NT. The Old and New Testaments have always seemed so disjointed to me, so separate. When I think of the Holy Spirit, I mostly think of Paul. It took me by surprise when I read about Saul and Samuel encountering the spirit of God. I guess I've always assumed that when God spoke to his OT prophets that it was with an audible voice. I'm not really sure why. In 1 Sam 9, Samuel is told by God that a man was coming who was to be anointed king. That man was Saul. The thing I really love about this is that Samuel didn't just know there was going to be a man, he knew specifics. When Saul met Samuel, Samuel said, "Go on up the hill ahead of me to the place of sacrifice and we'll eat there together. In the morning I will tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. And don't worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel's hopes." (1 Sam 9:19-20 NLT) The reason Saul was where Samuel was in the first place was because Saul was looking for his father's lost donkeys. Samuel had that specific word from the Lord, and I'm sure Saul had a hard time wrapping his head around that. Saul didn't even have the chance to ask Samuel about the donkeys, but Samuel was able to tell Saul what he wanted to know. Crazy.

After Samuel anoints Saul to be king, he says this: "At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power [Acts 1:8, anyone?], and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do whatever you think is best, for God will be with you." (1 Sam 10: 6-7) That is such an amazing thing. The Holy Spirit changes people. It's so amazing to read about this all over scripture. And I don't know about you, but I want to be so full of the Holy Spirit that God is in whatever I do. I also want to be paying close attention to Saul, because he was totally filled with the Spirit of God, yet he totally screwed up in the end. Saul is not the only one in the Bible to do this. I want to learn to recognize the pitfalls in my own life in the hopes that I won't have that kind of 180 in my own life. I tend to be really good at seeing the sin in other people, but having a hard time being so honest and blunt about myself (plank and speck syndrome for sure). It's also good, though, to be reminded that even the Bible superheroes were human and screwed up. I feel more connected to people when I know they're not perfect, and I feel more hope that God will love me despite my mistakes because he loves others despite their mistakes.

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