SAUL: The anointed

1 Samuel 10

The word “anointed” has different meanings depending on who is using it or who hears it.  Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be,” gives us a good sense of what “to be anointed” means:

Take my life and let it be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

One cannot be “anointed” of God until they are consecrated and devoted to God.  A preacher’s preaching cannot be anointed until he himself is dedicated to God.  And a preacher’s message cannot be anointed to those hearing it until they are consecrated and dedicated to God.   To be “anointed” is to be set apart for God’s purposes.  It is not some tingly, warm feeling a person gets when they hear a good sermon.

Sir Edwin Arnold wrote in The Light of Asia, Book Four:

While life is good to give, I give.

Too bad so many Christians have never read The Light of Asia.  Too bad many so Christians give the left overs of their lives to God, keeping the good parts for themselves.  Too bad so many Christians put off serving God in their youthful, young, and energetic years, deciding in their declining years to “get serious” with Him.  What a waste of good years.  No wonder so many church members leave a Sunday morning service not feeling a thing when they, in fact, met with God; they were there in body, but their minds were far away.  They were not “anointed.”  The preacher may have gone through the motions of preaching, but that sermon did not come from his heart and soul because his was not “anointed.”  That “anointing” is something we all want, but we do not want to do what is necessary to obtain it.   I may call myself a “Minister of the Word and Sacrament,” but that in no way anoints my words.

We expend so much of our time and energy chasing our dreams and building our little “empires” that very little is reserved for God.   We may be engaged in worthy and worthwhile endeavors, but that does not mean they are done in God’s Name and for His glory.

Saul and David were all chosen or anointed by God while they were young.  They served a great master, and that great master deserved great servants.  In young Saul, we see a “choice young man.”   And while we all know how Saul’s life fell apart, at least early on we see a life full of promise and potential.  Saul had everything going for him as a young man.

1.  He was separated by anointing, verse 1

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?”

The process of making Saul Israel’s first king necessitated two main steps:   First was a private ceremony, which is described here.  The second step was the public choice followed by a public coronation.

The flask of oil Samuel used contained the all-purpose olive oil, but here it was designated as “sacred” oil.  Psalm 89:20—

I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him.

This is God speaking; God, through Samuel, anointed the kings of Israel, beginning with Saul.  It was God Himself who set Saul apart from crowd to fulfill His purposes for His people.  A monarchy was not God’s will for His people, but He was the One who allowed men to ascend the throne.  In ancient Israel, both priests and kings were called out and anointed like this.  This anointing of God set them apart from the general population.

All of God’s servants, in fact, are chosen and anointed like this, spiritually if not actually.  1 John 2:27—

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

John was writing to church members, not church leaders.  Believers—people in the pew—are all anointed of God, whether they realize it or not.  What does that mean?  It means that believers—true believers—are set apart by God for a purpose.  Are you set apart? Or from God’s perspective, do you just blend in with the hordes of sinners all around you?  Christians should be separated from the world around them; you are anointed, like Saul, and you should live anointed lives; lives that are markedly different from your unbelieving neighbors.

In the case of Saul, he was informed of God’s will, and shortly thereafter the sacred anointing oil was applied.  In our case, as soon as we know the will of God as revealed in His Word, we should be separated from the world to Him.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians, reminding them of this very fact—

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:13b)

2.  He was encouraged by promises

God had anointed Saul but He did not leave him high and dry; God, through Samuel, gave His new king a three-fold promise concerning:

  • His immediate concernsWhen you leave me today, you will meet two men…They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found.  (verse 2) When God anointed Saul He met one of Saul’s pressing needs.  Remember, Saul was out looking for his father’s donkeys and was worried about his father.  God anointed Saul and promised to care of that routine, everyday problem immediately.
  • His physical needs“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine.  They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.”  (verses 3, 4) God anointed Saul and God made sure Saul was would be well fed and his physical needs would be taken care of. 
  • His spiritual needsThe Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power.  (verse 6a). God promised to give Saul the depth of spiritual insight he would need.

And so God promised that Saul would be given everything he would need to be anointed.  He could easily be set apart from the world to fulfill God’s purposes because God Himself would give Saul whatever he needed; Saul would never again need to be a part of the world around him.  This three-fold promise has also been given to Christians according to Romans 8:32—

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

If only Christians could practice the faith they profess to have.  We claim to believe in the Word of God, yet we live like we are the ones who have to provide “all things” for ourselves.  If we had faith in and trusted God more, we might spend less time in spurious pursuit of “all things” and more time in pursuit the things of God.   It is easy to  object to that way of thinking, claiming the “Protestant Work Ethic” demands the majority of our time and effort.  God can take care of that, too, as He did with Saul, with the next point.

3.  He was changed, verse 9

God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.

It is impossible to live the kind of anointed life God demands without being changed in some way.  God changed Saul’s heart—a kind of regeneration—and God gave Saul new desires and new motives.  God can do that for all believers; this is what regeneration is all about.  David prayed to God—

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

Do you find living a dedicated and consecrated life daunting?  Do you find the prospects changing your habits, hobbies, and attitudes distasteful?   Does the thought of forsaking certain people or pursuits seem unreasonable to you?  Do you find the demands of Scripture unreasonable?  The reality is not a single Christian can live a holy, separated  life—which God demands—on his own.  The good news is that God will make it possible for you to do so.  He gave Saul a changed heart, meaning Saul was made “another man” when the revelation of God’s purposes were made clear to him.  A very similar thing happens to us when we are born again—

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  (2 Corinthians 5:17—18)

Nobody can be the same after the Kingdom of God has been birthed in their souls!  God makes us new people, as He made Saul a new man.  It is completely an act of grace; something done for us for our benefit to make living the anointed life possible.

4.  He was given assurance, verse 9

…all these signs were fulfilled that day.

The blessings of God become obvious to those whose lives are yielded to Him.  When our outward circumstances are made to conform to and confirm the thoughts and intents of our new inner lives, everything will change.  For Saul, when God regenerated his inner man, all His promises came to pass.  For us, when we make the effort live by faith according to Scripture, when we make the effort to live like the “new creatures” we are, God will make all things work together for our good; our whole perspective on life will change.  When God’s will is made known to us, and we willingly yield ourselves to the fulfillment of His will, we will see many “signs and wonders” coming into our lives as tokens of confirmation that God is pleased with us.  As one commentator observed:

The outer wheels of our circumstances never move contrary to the inner workings of the Spirit of God.  There may be wheels within wheels, but they are “full of eyes,” and so cannot err.

5.  He was empowered by the Holy Spirit, verses 10, 11

When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.  When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit and they yield themselves to Him, signs are sure to follow.  Notice that Saul looked like a prophet and joined in with the prophets; and why not?  Was he not filled with exactly the same Spirit as they were?  If you are born again, then you also are filled with the same Spirit that indwelt not only the prophets, but Jesus Christ as well.  Not only that, God’s blessing is contagious.  When Christians yield themselves to the Spirit of God within them, the move of the Spirit within them will touch others close by and they will yield themselves, just as Saul did in the company of the prophets.  This is, perhaps, one reason why so many of churches seem devoid and bereft of the power of the Holy Spirit:  nobody, including the pastor and elders, are willing to let go and let the Holy Spirit take over.  The tragic thing about that is we are robbing each other of something very precious:  a transcendent spiritual experience that will not only take us to new levels of spirituality, but our congregations as well.

6.  He was humbled, verses 21, 22

But when they looked for him, he was not to be found.  So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”  And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”

The kingdom of God had come to Saul, not because he asked for or sought after it; it was given to him as a gift from God.  He could have been swollen with pride; instead he was humbled to the point of hiding from people.  He remained small in his own eyes despite the great blessings showered on him.  Sadly, this humility would leave him later in life, but for now this humility was real and was a part of his character.

7.  He was despised by some, verse 27

But some troublemakers said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

The Hebrew calls these “troublemakers” “sons of worthlessness.”  There will always be those who doubt and make no allowance for the call of God or the move of God.  A lot of us, who serve the Lord, find this a reality in our own lives.  We are excited about God or something God has shown us in His Word, but nobody else is!   But this should come as no shock to us; if we have been made partakers of the fellowship of God, then we are also partakers of the sufferings of Christ.  He was made fun of, His teachings ripped and ignored; why should we be treated any differently?   The simple fact is, the more God blesses us and honors us, the closer we get to God, the more some—even within the Body of Christ—will cause trouble for us.

The last sentence in verse 27 is foreboding.  “Saul kept silent” in the face of his critics, so we are told.  Here was a man, full of holy boldness, anointed king, who did not answer his critics.  He should have; he would not have been defending himself, it was really God’s honor being snubbed here.  Why did he not say something?  Was he afraid?  Was his humility really just a mask for fear?   The apostle Peter wrote this—

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  (1 Peter 3:14—16)

Did you catch what Peter admonished his readers to do?   He told them to do two things:

  • In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  In other words, “anoint” Christ as Lord in your heart.  He anointed you; you must anoint Him.  As Christians, we all must set Christ on the throne of our hearts.
  • Always be prepared to give an answer.  When we are besieged by troublemakers, we must be ready to give an answer.  We owe it to God, we owe to those who are watching us, and we owe it to those troublemakers.

Saul had remained quiet when confronted.  This opened the doorway to trouble that could never be shut.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd
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