Understanding God Sermon Series (Part 1)
1 Samuel 9:2-24
One of the first things we need to understand about God is that God wants to give us abundantly more than we can think of or ask for. In order to accomplish this, God gives every believer an assignment. For the most part, we all share in the same assignment, but we carry it out differently according to our individual gifts, talents, and abilities. Essentially, our assignment is to seek the lost and return them to our Father, which is God. I am reminded of the line in mission impossible, should we choose to accept our assignment, which speaks to the fact that we have a choice. If, we do however, choose to accept our assignment we will discover all of the wonderful things that God has set aside for us. We will discover all of the blessings and provisions that God has made for us. Ultimately, we will discover who God is for ourselves. We will discover that God is a loving, gracious, merciful and awesome God who desires to give us abundantly more than we can think of or ask for.
As we examine the early years in the life of Saul I believe it helps us to gain insight into the premise that a deeper understanding and knowledge of God is tied to accepting the assignments that God lays before us.
Our text opens by stating that Saul’s father, Kish, had lost his donkeys and he instructed his son Saul to take one the servants to go looking for them. When I was in seminary my homiletics professor pointed out that in the Garden of Eden God lost something and throughout the rest of Scripture God works to get back what God lost in the Garden of Eden. In Eden humanity’s relationship with God was severed because of our desire to be like God and determine our own destiny, make our own choices, and provide for our own needs. For as long as we seek to control our own lives our actions communicate to God that we do not need Him or His help and our relationship with God continues to be severed.
And so, God uses Kish, Saul’s father to release Saul to go in search of that, which is lost. God is looking for people, men and women who are in relationship with God to go out in pursuit of those whose relationship with God is still severed. God is looking for people who will partner with Him and bring the lost back home.
One of the interesting things here is that before Saul could go out, he needed to be released. Kish was Saul’s father, and his job was to release Saul. Everyone needs a Kish in his or her life. We all need someone who can release us from the hurt and pain of the past. We all need someone who can help us to step out of the shackles of unhealthy relationships and self-destructive behaviors. Before we can help someone else we ourselves need to be helped, we need to be released. It is very difficult to share with others how liberating Christ is if we are still bound. Once we have been released then it is our job to become a Kish and release others. The obvious question is how do you release people? Well, by helping them to step out of whatever box they are in. For as long as Saul remained a part of Kish’s household he would be thought of as Saul the son of Kish. By releasing him Kish allowed Saul to be exposed to something different. God uses us to release others by exposing them to something different. When you are in a box you can only see the borders and walls of that box. After awhile you cease to dream and become resigned to the fact that this is what my life is and this is what my life will be. However, Jesus said, I have come to preach release to the captives. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what liberates people. The gospel of Jesus Christ informs the uninformed, restores vision and sight to the blind, and binds the broken hearted. How do we release people? We release them by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We release people by telling them there is a better way, there is another way, and there is a savior who wants to show you the way.
As Kish releases Saul it enables Saul to embark upon a journey that will take him to places he could have never thought of going and encountering people he would have never thought of engaging. I think this is an interesting lesson we learn about God. From God’s perspective our lives are a journey. Saul’s pursuit of his father’s donkeys took him up some hills and down into some valleys. It took him to strange places and it took him to familiar places. Saul’s journey mirrors that of our own. When we reflect on our own lives we see that we are on a journey that has many twists and turns there are challenges we have to face and things we go after that seem beyond our reach. Many times it seems as though we are a day late and a dollar short. We have to remember that all of what we face and have to contend with are just part of our journey. The challenges we face are designed to test our metal by building endurance and perseverance. They also serve to shape our character. I have a friend who loves to sleep. In fact, their mantra is sleep is very important to me. I would submit to you that you cannot get anywhere in life if you are sleeping or do not have the endurance to persevere during the difficult and challenging times you and I will face. And so, God uses difficult situations and circumstances as divine tools to forge and shape us.
After finding no success Saul reaches the point we all reach when we are frustrated, we want to turn back. One of my sociology professors once told me that when you are at your most tired that is the time you must push yourself to go on, because when you do you will find your second wind. Of course it helps if you have someone to encourage you.
Enter, the servant. Saul probably saw his father’s servant as an ancillary part of the operation. He had no idea that the one we usually overlook becomes a key cog. There is a beautiful poem I love titled “A reason, a season, and a lifetime.” The opening of the poem states, “people come into our life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure it out you will know what to do. The servant was there for a reason. The servant’s role was to be Saul’s encourager. The truth is we all need people that will encourage us. We need folks in our lives that will spur us on when we are down and will motivate us to get back up after we have fallen. When we feel like we do not have the strength to go on and want to turn back, we need some encouragement. Encouragers help us to see the benefit of pressing on when we cannot see it for ourselves. Encouragers know what buttons to press and what strings to pull that will help us to pull it together and get back on the road moving in the direction that God has laid out for us. In most cases people who encourage us are really pawns used by God. They are unsuspecting and simply carry out what they have been gifted to do – encourage. The flip side is that while there will be times when we need to be encouraged, we also need to encourage others. I have discovered that when you are going through difficulties or tuff times, the best way to overcome them is to help someone else. When we take the focus off of what we are going through and put our focus on helping others it enables us to go on. The more we help others the less attention we pay to our own problems and issues. After a while we forget about our own stuff and start accomplishing more in life and experience a better quality of life.
As the servant and Saul go on we learn another lesson about God, God has made provisions for our journey and everything we need we will find as we go along. Admittedly, Saul and the servant are stymied. They have looked and looked and have not seen hide or hair of the donkeys. Then the servant suggests they try something different – Ask for help. In fact, not only do they ask for help once but also, they do it twice. First they ask the young women. God then uses the young women to provide direction. A couple of observations, we cannot be afraid to ask for help. Very often the help we need is sometimes a question or a request away. Asking for help can be the difference between being right there and being there. The chief obstacle to asking for help is pride. We do not want to seem stupid or look like we do not know what we are doing. Proverbs 16:18 say’s “Pride cometh before destruction and haughtiness cometh before a fall.” The real question is if we do not know where we are going or cannot find what we are looking for why would we continue to operate in the dark? This is especially the case in light of the fact that God has strategically placed people in our lives whose role is to provide us with the direction we need. Here again, direction is like medication it only works if you take it all or follow the instructions completely.
If we examine the text closely, we see that the young women’s job was to lead Saul to Samuel the Prophet and Samuel’s job was to lead Saul to what God had laid aside for him. The people we encounter have already been primed by God to fulfill their roles in our lives. It is our job to accept them for what they are in our lives to do and not try to change them. Every person who comes into our lives has one of two purposes: a) to draw us closer to Christ or b) to help us get closer to what Christ has for us. When I think about some of the people who have caused me tremendous angst, grief, discouragement, and disappointment, as I reflect back I can see now how God used them to draw me closer to Him. In many cases, I could not do anything about the stuff they had done to me, but I could go to God and allow Him to help me either understand it better or handle what I was going through better. Either way, God was using them to draw me closer to Himself.
Many people ask the question, what is God’s will for my life? I would submit to you that God’s will for the entire Body of Christ is a) draw closer to Christ or b) draw closer to what God has for them. When you look at each person in this text we see that they all had a role to play, they all had an assignment. Notice that their assignment did not focus on what he or she wanted God to do for them, but rather the focus was on how God wanted to use them in the life of someone else. Perhaps, we have been asking the wrong question of God. Instead of asking God what can God do for us, may be we should start asking God how does He want to use us in the life of others.
Just for a moment I want to go back, we see that once Saul and the servant decided to seek help they also realized they needed to be a blessing. They understood that the key to unlocking God’s provisions for our own lives is to be a blessing to others. We must always look for opportunities to bless others and in this case especially those who God will use to be a blessing to us. Remember, Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. She did not have much, but she was willing to share out of the little that she had and God made sure that what she had never ran out and there was an endless supply. One preacher put it this way we cannot out give God.
As our text reaches its climax we learn a third interesting reality about God. If we stay the course we will receive what God has set aside for us. Samuel who is a pivotal character in this narrative is used by God to reveal what God has for Saul. One of the things that make the encounter between Samuel and Saul fascinating is that Samuel probably never met Saul personally, yet he knows Saul is the one because God tells him so. The will of God is not as mysterious as some would have us believe. We simply have to listen to and for the voice of God and God will reveal His will to us. Like Kish, like the servant, and like the young women, we all need people in our lives through whom God can speak to us. We need godly people whom God will use to reveal His plan and purpose for us as we travel along the journey of life. We need folks who will help us to search our heart and help us to be accepting of what God has for us. Likewise, as God speaks to us through others we too must become channels through whom God can speak to those around us and those God sends to us.
In addition to the revelation of God, Saul also experiences the favor of God. To be honest other than the fact that Saul was a handsome man there was nothing he did to deserve the blessings that God was bestowing upon him. That is one of the wonderful things about God’s favor there is nothing we can do to earn it, because God gives His favor freely. Benjamin was the smallest tribe of Israel, the last son of Jacob and the least significant of them all. Yet, God chose to bless the one that had the least going for it. God chose the lift up the one that had been overlooked, marginalized, and had the least right to lay claim. This is a wonderful reality that those of us who have the least going for us in life stand to be the ones who gain the most from God. The idea that God has chosen to smile on us and bless us beyond measure, not because we deserve it and not because we have done anything to earn it, but simply because we accepted our assignment. God extends His goodness, graciousness and mercy towards us not because of who we are or are not, but simply because we are in agreement with God. When we follow the path that God has laid out for us we come to discover that God has set aside abundantly more than we could have ever thought about or could ever ask for.
God is looking for partners. God is looking for men, women, and young people who will partner with God and be in agreement with God. God is looking for individuals who are willing to go out and look for those who are lost and return them to God. And when we go out for God the blessings of God will come in to us. When we go out for God the provisions of God will come in to us. When we go out for God the revelation of God’s plan and purpose will come in to us. When we go out for God all that God has laid aside and put on reserve for us will come to us.
Will you accept your assignment?