Saul would be God’s selection for the first king of Israel. The people had been demanding a king from the aging prophet Samuel, demanding one who would be like those of the enemy nations around them. Their yearning for a king was a desire for a physical, not spiritually strong, leader. They no longer wanted to be led by God, so the Lord decided to give them exactly what they wanted – the best-looking person from a wealthy and powerful family, one who stood taller than all his countrymen and really looked the part. He would surely command respect from the neighboring nations.
But Saul knew little about God. This was just not a priority for the people of Israel anymore. After being led by the prophet Samuel for many years, Israel was ready for a secular king. God would still use Samuel to divinely anoint Saul as king, even though Saul was not in the prophesied regal line of Israel, the tribe of Judah. Saul was a Benjaminite and although he would be given every opportunity to follow along God’s path, it would not stick.
The Lord gave Saul a divine gift to begin his reign – a new spiritual heart. Saul had a strong spiritual experience as the Spirit of God came down upon him. This had a profound effect on him for awhile, but he did not choose to pursue it.
At God’s direction, Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head, anointing him king over Israel. He told Saul that he would encounter other prophets, and begin to worship and praise God along with them, as the Spirit of God provided the words.
6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man… 9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart.
10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 1 Samuel 10:6,9-11 (NKJV)
Like many other kings of Israel that would come after him, Saul began his reign on a high note. He was given every spiritual and physical advantage. Though he was not from the kingly line of Judah, God still gave Saul everything he needed to serve the people of Israel well in every way.
Many of us have had some form of spiritual experience with God. For some, it is dramatic and sudden, like Saul’s. For others, it is slow and steady, like the turning of a large ship, and is more of an “educational variety”, that manifests itself as a growing awareness of what God is doing around us and within us.
Like Saul, our spiritual life needs maintenance to last beyond our initial experience. We do this by reading God’s word, spending time meditating and praying with Him, and gathering with other believers to worship, study and pray. Our spiritual batteries tend to run low and must be recharged through daily contact with God and His Spirit, and this is often strengthened through fellowship with other believers.
The Holy Spirit living within others can rekindle the sometimes-wet “wood” of our own spiritual fire. Assembling and praying with others, even virtually, helps to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit going within our own hearts, no matter what trials or difficulties we are facing. If Saul had stayed close to his prophets, his life story might have taken a very different direction.
If we, like Saul, have turned to walk another path away from God, it is not too late to rekindle our spiritual fire with the Lord. He loves us deeply and without condition, and is always reaching out to bring us back to Him, no matter where we have been or what we have done. His forgiveness and love for us burns bright.
It is good to remember the precious times in our past when we have sensed the intimate presence of God. Oftentimes we cannot sense Him, but know that He is still there and will never leave us nor forsake us. God likely permits these times of dryness to occur to help develop and strengthen our faith in Him for the long term.
Who can I encourage today to help strengthen or rekindle their faith through the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit ?
Father God, help us to draw closer to You through the power and presence of Your Holy Spirit in our lives, given so freely due to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Speak to us through Your word and draw us closer to other believers as well for our mutual blessing and benefit. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.