A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, January 18, 2021
After 10:30am today, this devotional will be offered online at https://youtu.be/qNaTW9Q8xzE
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20210118
Additionally, if you’d like to talk about this Daily Dose of Good News further, or previous ones, have questions, or additional thoughts, please feel free to email me at . I’d love to interactively engage with you about them.
Good morning! It’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News! It is January 18th- Happy Martin Luther King Day! We are going to read from 1 Samuel 9:25- 10:8 and for those of you who watched online church yesterday, I was preaching and I touched on part of 1 Samuel prior to this chapter. So for those of you who didn’t see that, just a smidge of back story… Samuel is the child that lived in the temple with Eli the priest. In the Old Testament text, Samuel, at the beginning, didn’t recognize God’s voice. God called to Samuel three times and Samuel kept running to the priest, Eli, and saying: ‘Hey, you called me- what do you want?’ And Eli was like: ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’. Eventually Eli perceived: Oh! God is calling Samuel! So, he told Samuel that and said ‘Hey if this happens again, if you hear this voice again, say: Lord, it’s me, I’m listening’. So at that point in the text, Samuel wasn’t able to hear God’s voice at all, didn’t recognize God’s voice, didn’t know it as God, until Eli said: ‘this is what this is’ and brought it to Samuel’s awareness. Then Samuel was able to recognize it. So, we’re going to continue to hear about Samuel. This is a little bit later on. You can compare how Samuel heard God then, to how Samuel hears God now, OK?
One other piece of background for this specific text. it’s going to reference Saul. This is Saul from the Old Testament. Saul who becomes a king. At this point in the story, Saul is the son of a man named Benjamin, and Saul has lost his donkeys. So, he is on what’s sort of a wild goose chase- a wild donkey chase. But he’s out looking for these three donkeys. You’ll hear what happens- he’s just a guy looking for some donkeys and he can’t find them. He’s with a servant and the servant and Saul decide – we’re going to go see this prophet- maybe he knows where our donkeys are. So they met Samuel. Samuel has invited him to dinner. Samuel has just sat Saul at the head of the table and given him a serving of a meal that is typically reserved for a king, that he apparently had his cook set aside some time before. So Samuel references, ‘go get what I asked you to set aside before’ when Saul arrives, and feed him this meal, set for a king. Saul’s like: ‘I’m just Benjamin’s son, I don’t know what you’re doing”. Unknown to him, Samuel have been told by God the day before: ‘I’m going to send you someone to anoint as king tomorrow- around this time’. So… you have all that as backstory! I hope you can keep that in your head and we’ll go on for here from here…
So Saul ate with Samuel that day. When they came down from the shrine into the town, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul upon the roof, “Get up, so that I may send you on your way.” Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.
As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”
Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler[a] over his heritage: When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?’ Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”
Here ends the reading.
Now that’s striking in numerous ways, right? We’re dealing with Samuel- who couldn’t hear God at all at the beginning of the Old Testament text yesterday. And now, Samuel who is saying: ‘this is what’s going to happen next, and then this, and then this, and then this, and then this’… One step at a time and it’s ultra-specific! He says to Saul: ‘these three things are going to happen- you’re going to meet this group who tells you they found your donkeys- no worries, this group who gives you some food, this group who is in a prophetic frenzy and they’re going to engage with you, and you’re going to become a different person’. So, it’s amazing the transformation in Samuel. Likewise in a very fast fashion, it’s amazing the transformation that’s going to happen in Saul- going from the annoying task of: I’m looking for my donkeys- where are they?- to becoming anointed as king over this entire group of people and being turned into another person, by God! I think it is amazing to see how God works! I don’t think we often open ourselves fully to the possibility of how God can work dramatically in our lives. In both these examples, it reminds me a bit of stepping stones going across a pond. With Samuel, it’s been one stepping stone and then the next… ‘I’m going to send this guy to you, and you’re going to anoint him tomorrow’. Saul arrives. Samuel then does the next step- of okay I’m going to anoint him the next day. Then God says: ‘this is what’s going to happen next’.
So, I think it’s an opportunity for us to encourage some reflection. Both for some openness to God, as well as a question about some willingness of: are we willing to do the stepping stones across the pond? To God’s call for us? To God’s path for us? Maybe it’s a gradual path, like Samuel, which opens up more and more.. But it’s not about us running across the lake, on our own path. It is about waiting to hear God and then taking the next step. Waiting to hear God and then taking the next step. Being open to the possibility that God may want to direct our steps. So can we imagine that? Can we conceive of that? Can we perceive that? That God might be trying to lead us somewhere and that might require us to try and listen, be attentive, pause, reflect and try to hear God as fully as possible. For Saul, he’s getting in some ways the easy route of Samuel saying: ‘these three specific things are going to happen’. So, as those come true, those are going to build Saul’s faith very quickly, as they all do come true, and Saul becomes king.
So I mentioned those today also in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King. You may know, he was a Baptist Minister, and as I mentioned in the sermon yesterday, maybe he was marinating in God’s space in the beginning of that, before he helped lead an amazing portion of the Civil Rights Movement. But at the end of today’s text, all of this is done with real boldness and clarity. I think of Dr. Martin Luther King and I think of him as a bold man with clarity of vision. His “I Have a Dream” speech of: This is what I see. This is how I see us interacting in ways that are different than how we interact now. It is about community and unity. But it wasn’t a fuzzy picture, it was a clear picture of: ‘this is what I see, as a possibility for us to drive towards’. So as we continue to go through the stepping stones of our life and our world, I would just encourage us to consider that God may have a very bold plan for what’s ahead in your life and that God wants to bring to fruition. So let’s open our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our spirits to the presence of God and the reality that God has for all of us- for God’s life in us, in Jesus name, Amen. Have a great day everybody! Bye-bye.