‘So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”
But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” 1Samuel 28 v8-9
The thing I find most striking about this account is that the woman – in response to the King’s request to call up a spirit from the grave – shows more integrity than Saul in that moment. “Surely you know what Saul has done.” Or put another way, ‘Saul, you of all people should know as you are the King who has driven away mediums and spiritists like myself!’
At this point, the woman thinks that King Saul is intent on tricking her so that she can be arrested and killed – hence her response: “Why have you set a trap… to bring about my death?” Of course, what the woman doesn’t realise is how far the mighty man has fallen. How far Saul has transgressed and broken relationship with God to the point where he is prepared to turn to the dark side rather than face Him and be presented with the reality of his vindictive life and damaged decision-making.
In truth, all of us will at some point in our life find ourselves so desperate and far away from God that we will seek out our own way to move forward (without God). Saul’s issue was his pride. Setting it aside by admitting his weakness and mistakes was his problem!
To understand this event we need to get to grips with the backstory as prior to David’s anointing, Samuel takes Saul aside for disobeying God in that he had not fulfilled his duty in respect to Agag – the king of the Amelekites – and ignored the destruction of their livestock. Mortified at learning he had been rejected by God, Saul tries to make amends by:
‘So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.’
Back to David, God’s replacement. Although a child, his pedigree is clear. David…
- blaming the failure on his men saying he was afraid of them (Sam 15v31)
- begging Samuel to return back with him so he won’t lose face. (Sam 15v26-30)
- failing to do his duty so Samuel is forced into doing it instead for him (Sam 15v33)
- takes after God’s heart
- is fearless in his actions that are motivated by his loyalty to God
- strives to do the right thing, defending the weak and poor
A loyalty and respect for God and those over him that will lead David into the service of King Saul, putting him in jeopardy as he attempts to do be obedient and do right by God.There’s no comparison between these two kings.
‘The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you (Saul), and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.’ 1 Samuel 10v6 ‘When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying.’ 1 Samuel 10v10 ‘Finally, Samuel – son of Kish – was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord “Where is he?” And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”‘ 1 Samuel 10v21-22
In the last post we encountered Samson who although mightily equipped by God was undone by his immaturity and wilfulness. Sadly, the same is also true for Saul who right from the start shows he has no intention of leading others, preferring to hide among the luggage rather than respond to the call of God.
What is really sad about this is that Saul is given an incredibly detailed prophesy of who he will meet and what they will be carrying etc to show that what is being said to him is from God and will come true. The fact that other prophesies accompanied it should have put it beyond doubt but for Saul, the root of his issue is with his wavering heart which he favours. Moreover, he has no desire to become a ‘different person’ (Sam 10v6).
While Saul’s hiding among the luggage appears cowardly, what will transpire in the years that follow is that Saul is self-serving and disobedient. We see that in his wilfulness in choosing to hide. Likewise, his jealously and fear of David’s popularity later on. Not forgetting, his murderous desires and his overall failure to rise to the challenge of leading God’s people and protecting them, rather than serving himself.
Yes, the Spirit came upon Saul. True he was chosen by God and destined to be King and leader. However, Saul’s failure to address his anger, wilfulness and reckless behaviour sets him on a course to destruction. One in which the default of pride refuses to allow him to be captured by the enemy. He ends up killing himself, ending a sad era of a broken man who refused to reform.
‘So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.’ (Numbers 27v18)
In this passage, we are introduced to man of faith Joshua who was one of twelve sent out to spy on Canaan ready for an attack. However, on their return, while ten of the spies gave negative reports about how Israel would be overwhelmed and destroyed by the giants inhabiting the land, Joshua and another were the only ones to remind the people that God was with them and he would achieve it. (Perhaps he held in his mind how God had delivered them from the Pharoah and Egypt?)
The spirit of leadership observed in Joshua is a ‘primary spiritual gift’ which stands out from the many other gifts the believer possesses. While these other basic gifts also result in blessing and formational growth, our primary spiritual gift is unique in that when this gift is put into into action: :
- the person is energised (in a way they are not when operating in other gifts)
- other people are blessed by this ministry
- the person has a greater sense of calling and spiritual fulfillment.
This was certainly Joshua’s experience who after Moses went on to lead the people as they entered Canaan.
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.’ (Galatians 5v16-23)
So far, the fruits we have encountered have been easily recognisable – love, peace, joy (etc). However, today’s fruit – ‘forebearance’ – is problematic in that we seldom use the term nowadays. Ask yourself: when did you last use ‘forebearance’ in a sentence?
Now while words like patience, self-control, restraint and tolerance give us a rough idea of what forbearance is about, they do not give us it’s exact meaning. For Paul – who studied law under Jewish teacher Gamaliel – ‘forbearance’ is a term associated with the wronged party refraining from exercising their legal right to have justice. In other words, showing leniency rather than forcing the guilty person to repay in full.
Paul’s instruction to the Galatians to show forbearance is a call to exercise generosity to others. Not setting the law aside but refusing to punish and admonish the person so they too might experience something of the grace and goodness of God and (in turn) do the same to others. This is forbearance: not negating the law but exercising the right to set it aside so others may know God’s grace and goodness – and reveal it to a watching world.
‘Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”‘ (John 10v7-10)
I love the imagery being used here by Jesus – ‘I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.’
In the 1st Century, Jesus’ listeners would have been all too aware of the dangers facing sheep. Corralled into their pen for the night, the sheep would be dependant on the shepherd to sit in the gateway and ensure no animal or person came in to steal them. Hence, Jesus words: ‘whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.’
But what of his statement that ‘All who have come before me are thieves and robbers?’ Well, by occupation, Jesus was a carpenter not a shepherd so he is describing the spiritual role he is about to fulfil as carer for those who will place their faith in him. People who believe that in death they will pass through a cross-shaped gate to be with him for eternity. Which begs the question: what is it that the people are being saved from?
Jesus says:“All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them…(and) the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (but) I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
In short, thieves and robbers bring nothing to the table. They exist to steal and destroy and do this by distracting people away from Jesus who provides the opportunity for eternal life to all. At the time, Jesus was often speaking against religious leaders who opposed his message though today it could just as likely be an institutional practice or system that reduces humanity to anything less than their full spiritual potential Today, praise God that the full potential of God lives within you as you trust Jesus for the route ahead.
‘In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.‘ Romans 12v5-8.
Today we consider those with a primary spiritual gift of Leadership. Although the spiritual gift of leadership may operate at a range of levels, some people clearly recognise it as their responsibility to lead and develop others. These leaders cast vision and inspire/motivate others with their plans. In team situations, they bring wisdom, insight and direction to whatever project is being undertaken.
Find more information and resources at primary gift