Chapter-a-Day: 1 Samuel 13

smartphone-407108_1920.jpg1 Samuel 13

The first sentence of the chapter had me scratching my head: “Saul lived for one year and then became king, and when he had reigned for two years over Israel, Saul chose three thousand men of Israel.”

But wait, Saul became King after he went looking for his father’s donkeys and met Samuel. He had to be more than a year old to do that. And how does a three year old choose an army?

Then I remembered the verse that had caught my attention in Chapter 10. “. . . And you shall be changed into a new man.” Hebrew manuscripts word 1 Samuel 13:1, “Saul was one year old when he became king, and he reigned two years over Israel . . . .” He was one year old because it had been one year since the birth of this new man referenced in Chapter 10 — this man who joined the prophets proclaiming God, who God Himself chose to be the first king of Israel, and who God used to defeat the Ammonites.

Yet in this same chapter, Saul makes one seemingly small decision, a decision that on its face appears to arise from a desire to worship God, but at its root was founded in pride, fear, and lack of faith. That one decision cost him the kingdom.

We must look beyond the surface reasons for our actions and ask hard questions about the motives of our hearts. We must be honest before God about what we find there, we must want relationship with God above anything else, and we must be willing to do things God’s way, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite brains!

Have you ever participated in worship with more attention to what others thought of your performance than to the condition of your heart before God? Have you given to a charity for the tax write-off rather than from a spirit of generosity? Do you find yourself praying to be heard by others, rather than to hear from God? Lord, help us live righteously not for the sake of the praise of man, but out of devotion and love for you.

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