Separation, Sanctification, and Reliance on God: A Study of 1 Samuel

1 Samuel narrates the rise of Samuel, Hannah's firstborn whom she prayed for, in his judging of Israel until they demanded a king to rule them just like all of the other countries in the world. Saul is then chosen to serve as the first King of Israel until his pride gets to him and the Spirit of the Lord that was once upon him is no longer with him)

As I studied it recently, here are some things that jumped out at me.

1 Samuel 7
Sanctification and purity are needed to manage the things of God. 
In verse 1, Eleazar had to be sanctified in order to keep the ark. This pricked my heart. IDK about you, but sometimes I'm so casual about the things of God. There are days that I have no clue where my Bible is; I, guiltily, admit that I'm often careless with it. But the Old Testament repeatedly talks about the different ways that the sacred things of God were treated. Eleazar had to be sanctified and purified just to even touch the ark. MAN- What if we had that mentality with our Bible? That we needed to stop and sanctify ourselves by getting right with God, so that we didn't quench the spirit in our Bible reading. How often do we stop and repent of any wrong before physically open the Bible? Wow.

Being with God means separation from any other idols. Idols are not limited to religions, but anything that takes your time, adoration, focus, etc. away from God. Your job, your dreams, your hobbies- all can be idols.
The Israelites find themselves, yet again, in a pickle in this chapter. They were being whupped by the Philistines, again. Verse 2 says that for 20 years, EVERYONE in the house of Israel was lamenting.. that means they were in a state of deep sorrow. Samuel, a judge at the time, was responsible for calling the tribes out on their wrong. In verse 3, he says "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods.... and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines" Are you seeking victory in your life? Tired of being in bondage to the same enemy again and again? Check your adoration. Is your WHOLE heart focused on serving God only or are you caught up in serving God part-time, and serving your career for the other part? The Bible says "serve him only and he will deliver you...". Check where the totality of your service is.

Repentance AND prayer bring about change. Verse 4 says that the children of Israel 1) cleared their lives of the idols which led to 2) full time serving of God and then 3) Samuel then prayed for them and they fasted. The path to a victorious change and move of God in your life starts with a purified, repentant heart. Then cry out to God; withhold your focus and attention on anything else (fasting) and cry out for a change. Verse 8 says "Cease not to cry unto the Lord..."

1 Samuel 8
Set your affection on the things of God. If you're sanctified and set apart (and we are as Christians), what are you doing being concerned about what the world has that you don't? In the previous chapter, we see the children of Israel repenting and removing idols from their lives to serve God. As I was reading, I cheered them on! Just a few verses later, these clowns people are rejecting God's plan for them to have judges and are requesting a King, just like all of their enemies have. I read this, baffled, like, literally scratching my head, but can I be honest? This is me. I get myself together, and then soon, I've unknowingly found a new idol in life to distract me and have me focused on discontentment or something worldly. Our flesh and spirit are continuously playing tug o' war, so the way to victory is to PURPOSELY and PROACTIVELY change our focus to solely be on God. If the children of Israel spent less time salivating over trying to "keep up with the Jones-ites" of their time and just stopped to see how God had done such miraculous things in their lives, they would've never gotten into half of their problems that they did.

Heed the warnings God sends your way. The Holy Spirit abides within us to keep us sensitive to that which thrusts us towards righteousness, but also to protect us against nearing danger from sin and wickedness. In verse 9, God is telling Samuel to go ahead and give them a King, but make sure that they understand exactly what can happen when they reject the Kingdom of God, for an earthly king that they were never intended to have.WOW. Isn't that just like God? In the midst of being rejected by the people He had chosen for himself, He still extended grace and mercy to them! He instructed Samuel to forewarn them; give them a 2nd chance to change their minds! They still weren't here for it though!

1 Samuel 9
God honors humility and uses weak vessels who He can exude strength through. Saul had such humble beginnings. Every time I read 1 Samuel, I want Saul to win! I just wanted better for him! Verse 21 says that Saul questioned being used by God because he was from the smallest tribes in one of the most irrelevant families. Verse 16 tells us that God told Samuel that Saul would be the one to be anointed and made captain over His people to save them from the Philistines. Saul would be the answer to the Israelites' prayers (Even though the Israelites rejected the sole authority of God, He still loved them enough to handpick a king to anoint for them... WOW. What a God!)

Sometimes privacy is a requirement to hear a word from God.
Sometimes, your view is blocked from being around others. Verse 27 says that Samuel told Saul to have his servant, whom Saul traveled there with, go on and leave so that he could show him the Word of God. I believe that sometimes God will remove people or distractions from our lives, whether temporarily or permanent, for the sole purpose of having privacy to clearly get us to hear His word; we need it. I rode with my family to church tonight and tried to do my devotions (because again, I'm behind lol), and my little brother and sister interrupted me a strong 10 times. Like, I literally was hindered. I needed a word from God, but they talked all through it. It reinforced why I carve out time to come to my room, lock the door, typically once they're sleep, to do my devotions lol. HAVE PRIVATE TIME WITH GOD! Don't cut the time short by attempting to hear from Him while in a crowd of 50 people! Your hearing will be clogged! lol

1 Samuel 10
Do not forget that whatever God has called you to, it is HE who enables you to do it; you are nothing without God. That Saul, he started to get bigheaded. I'm so disappointed in him. In verse 13 he says, "...behold the King whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired!". I imagine him standing somewhere high and mighty with his chest poked out telling everyone, "Hey! Look at me! Remember me? OH YEAH- The man of your prayers and dreams! Take a look! OH YEAH- you prayed for me to rule you!" Look at that pride! PRIDE GOES BEFORE THE FALL! I'm a witness. Literally 1 chapter before, Saul has humility... and here we are in chapter 10, and he's lost it. The Bible speaks on pride so much! I cannot say it enough- guard against pride! Pride WILL humble you. God will exalt the humble; but the proud- oh, He's finna shut them down quick! God created us- how dare we take credit for anything that we've done; He created us, purposed us, and enabled us to do all of which we do.

Be thankful for grace and mercy (verse 22) The children of Israel were in bad shape. They constantly teeter tottered the line of serving God and serving ANYTHING else, but there's the twins- Grace and Mercy, remaining ever so present in verse 22. "For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people." WOW. That's love. In the midst of their disobedience and even when they rejected Him, he refused to forsake them. I'm literally almost in tears because this is exactly how God is to us still today. We disobey Him and reject Him, yet He refuses to leave us behind neither will He forsake us. Listen- FRIENDS will pass you by... they will forsake in minutes, but the God who created you, He REFUSES to leave you!?! That's LOVE. WOW. Thank God for grace and mercy that is extended to us! We need it!

When someone's wrong, don't stop praying! Teach them and show them right (v. 23) Samuel was growing tired of the prideful Saul at this point. Saul was not exalted to leadership to rule the people of Israel, just to lead them away from God, yet he did... He stopped being sensitive to the leading of God. This can be so frustrating. When I see people doing wrong, I want to shake them lol. SERIOUSLY. I see some girls in school acting out in the same ways that I did when I was younger, and I want to spank them and tell them STOP, so they don't have to go down the path I went down, but in this portion of scripture Samuel says, "God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way". This is encouraging. Samuel is saying that it's SIN to knowingly turn your back on someone who is doing wrong and not pray for them. LISTEN- I need to head to the altar right now, because there have been plenty of times that I've seen someone clearly disobeying the word of God and I judged them, shook my head, and kept walking. I never prayed. I never tried to explain to them why it was bad or how to do right. SIGH. Do you see what I mean when I've previously said that the more time you spend with God, the more and more you realize that sin is far greater than just the 10 commandments?

1 Samuel 13
Lack of patience leads to short lived victories and soon-coming destruction. Read verse 11.Pride and patience are the 2 of the biggest things I struggle with in life... apparently, such was the same for Saul. Saul chose not to wait on direction from God in time of trouble in the kingdom. In verse 12, Saul says "...I forced myself...and offered a burnt offering." If you gotta force it, it ain't real. You cannot conjure up God, nor can you conjure up a miracle. This is not some magic show. Saul, YOU'RE WRONG! As a result, his ruling was brought to an end.... *shakes fist* God anointed Saul! Saul had a calling on his life, as long as he followed God.... He was leader of God's chosen people. Whatever God has entrusted you to be a steward of, take it seriously; seek God's hand in caring for it! Verse 14 says "But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart... because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee." OUCH! I feel bad for Saul at this point! Like, in the midst of the chaos going on, he's now being told that he's done and God has already found a BETTER replacement. MAN! This principle is so true though! God continously told me and showed me that I am not "irreplaceable" *cue Beyonce*. God calls and entrusts with specific purposes, but we are not the only avenues for Him to accomplish His will. WE ARE ALL REPLACEABLE! God believes in humility. Humble vessels are submissive to the leadership of God; they listen. Saul's lack of patience on waiting on God for deliverance from the enemy led to his complete demise. I mean, seriously, it was downhill for Saul after that...

Man. I love the Bible! This book is full of such powerful truth! It's timeless! Sometimes I stumble upon social media posts and comments where people refute the Bible because it's "old"... Listen, that's even more intriguing to me- the fact that a book written thousands of years ago still gives relevant, life-guiding truth today? Like, that's powerful. There are many books that will be irrelevant even this time next year, but the Word of God still stands!

Catching Up On My Scripture Reading *insert guilty face*,

Dear God, You're SO GREAT! Your word is SO TRUE! I'm so amazed at the Bible! I'm amazed at the principles that I can apply to my life on every single page. I thank you God for tangible copies of Your word. God, I pray that you will encourage anyone reading this post. Help them to commit to reading the Bible more and more to grow more and more like You. Bind Satan and any other entity that may hinder the spiritual growth of me or the reader. Do miraculous works, God. Change lives! Help us to live repentant, purified, sanctified, and separated lives to be used wholeheartedly by YOU! Help us not to get in the way of Your moving and leading, O God. In Jesus' name, I pray.

Yolanda Adams- That Name
Casey J- Fill Me Up