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Devotions > Looking and Listening

16 Oct 2012


This morning the Lord seems to direct us to examine a small slice of the life of His great prophet Samuel.   The Lord prepared for Himself this prophet through circumstances similar to those surrounding the birth of Isaac and John the Baptist, from mothers with a history of barrenness.

There was living in Israel at this time their primary priest Eli, who had not properly parented his children.   This priest was not living before his family as the priest and father God had instructed and called him to be.     A condition that is currently rampant in our midst in this day.   While the two sons of this priest were formally functioning as priests for the people they had not been trained nor had they responded in righteousness to the rigors of God’s plan and His pattern for His priests.    Without the fathers love and discipline the children of absent fathers flounder into sin. 

These priests were providing examples to the people of unrighteousness, leading the people toward rebellion and away from the blameless worship of God.  Meanwhile God was, in the heart of one woman, through the burden of her barrenness, birthing a deep burning desire for a child for His purposes.

God’s people would soon be crying out to God to provide for them a king.   Their desire for a king would become an offense to this prophet, as it spoke deeply of their focus on self and the externals and their disingenuous disregard for the king who was their God.    Have you noticed these same sinful attitudes flooding our culture and our churches today?

 After repeated failures of the first king, Saul, God instructed Samuel as His instrument to anoint the next king of Israel.   This king was not only to be the greatest king in the history of the nation, but this king would be the forefather of the King of kings the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.   We pick up the narrative in First Samuel chapter 16.

 1 Samuel 16:1-3 (AMP)
1 THE LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided for Myself a king among his sons.
2 Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take a heifer with you and say, I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.
3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you. ( emphasis added)

During a recent visit, Pastor Jamson, a pastor from Kampala Uganda, shared this insight:   When Samuel obediently arrived in Bethlehem he made arrangements for the sacrifice and invited Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice as God had instructed.    However when Jesse and his sons arrived, Samuel made an error that we can easily replicate.   Let’s look together at the scripture below to examine this matter carefully.

1 Samuel 16:6-7 (AMP)
6 When they had come, he looked on Eliab [the eldest son] and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

God told Samuel that He would show him the one that He had chosen.   But when Jesse and his sons arrived Samuel looked.   Samuel looked with his eyes and with his understanding which were woefully inadequate even as ours.   In fact we are told that Samuel looked and God said look not!   If we are to see what God sees we must listen carefully to God and reject our strong tendency to look and think we understand what we have seen.

This kind of looking can lead us to oppose God.   If for example if Hannah had been satisfied with the double portion provided by her husband, Elkanah, though his response was from love, Hannah’s immediate comfort would not have been consistent with the purposes of God for His people.    Likewise in our praying we must listen more and look less.    In order to pray effectively we must listen to God and ask Him for understanding of His ways and His plans in order that our prayers will be consistent with His purposes for the building of His Kingdom.  

God often brings great difficulty into the life of a person or a nation in order to provide for the salvation that He has promised.   In the history of revivals God has almost always provided an element of suffering and often the apparent defeat of His church as the womb for the birth of revival.   If these make up the womb, perhaps the sperm of revival is prayer.  Prayer offered by humble saints listening to the voice of God.

Please be encouraged to listen.   Take time to carefully listen to God.  Come to God and ask for His hearing aids that you might be praying consistent with what He sees, not particularly what you see.  These are the prayers that bring glory to His Name and build His kingdom and prepare for revival!


Jeff Williams