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Posts Tagged ‘national elections’

After King Rehoboam angered his people and harshly threatened them, ten of the twelve tribes in his kingdom seceded and anointed a new king named Jeroboam.

Word:  I Kings 12:25-33 (abridged)(NLT)

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”

28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”

29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.

31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

Jeroboam had just led a successful coup and won over most of the nation to his side!  He was the new king, but politically he had a problem. The religion of the nation required them to perform their rituals in the capital of the old country—the enemy country.  So, on the advice of his counsellors, he creates a new religion—or perhaps more accurately, a new imitation of the old religion.

To create a new religion, you need a new history: not that old God of the old story, but these new gods are the true gods of freedom, of liberty. Then you must have a new priesthood to tell the new story, of course.  These new priests lacked only the credentials and anointing of the old religion and the old god, so if they are given new credentials and if they dress like the old priests, almost no one will notice any difference. Then the clever new king created new religious festivals “in imitation” of the old festivals, and he chose appropriate days, and he performed the main rituals himself—because, after all, he is the creator of this entire new religion—that looked and felt a lot like the old religion.

Beware of leaders that need to change the national story, who ignore history, and especially who offer new and improved morals and values! Neither goodness nor power reside in this new religion just because it feels like the old one.  Goodness and power are where the real God is!

Prayer:  Lord, You alone are the God who has led us to this day in history. You are the real God who has shaped our nation. Keep us from being deceived by imitation gods, pretending to be good and have power, but who are nothing!  Deliver us from leaders who would create substitute histories and substitute morals/values in order to further their political agendas. Amen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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Word:   Jeremiah 6:19-21 (NLT)

19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
    my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
    will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
    for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
    These are not real gods at all!”

21 The Lord says,
“Now I will show them my power;
    now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
    that I am the Lord.

 

Most prophets had very difficult messages from God to deliver. While sometimes they might be given good news—for instance, the nation is leaving slavery and returning to their homeland—on most occasions, the prophets tried in vain to rouse people with dire warnings: Repent or perish; turn to God or the nation will be conquered.  Jeremiah, often called the weeping prophet, carried an especially ominous message to his nation because they had completely abandoned the King of All Nations.  For faithfully proclaiming this message of imminent disaster and punishment, he was viciously mocked and ridiculed and eventually imprisoned—until all he said came true just as God had revealed to him.

In this prayer of Jeremiah’s, the prophet shares with us the big picture! He knows the “day of trouble” is coming, but he personally finds shelter, not in new systems, new kings, or new ideologies; rather, he finds comfort in knowing the King of All Nations is his refuge and strength.

The nations of the world can’t rejoice because they have been led astray by their foolish heritage!  What part of our nation’s heritage has led us astray? What if it were treasured values like rugged individualism, national exceptionalism, or even capitalism?  What gods has our nation created that are not real gods at all?

In Jeremiah’s time, God had to reduce ancient Israel to a remnant and start over again in order to convince them that He alone is real. He alone is the King of All Nations.

Prayer:  Lord, open our eyes to the gods that we have inherited from our heritage, some of which we may not even recognize as gods. Open our hearts, Lord, that we might recognize your activity among the nations, that we will know that you are the only God, and that you are our King. And be our strength and our fortress in the fight against godlessness. Amen

 

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Word: Ezekiel 18:19-32 (NLT)

19 “‘What?’ you ask. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. 21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.

23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. 24 However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you? 26 When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. 27 And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. 28 They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die. 29 And yet the people of Israel keep saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ O people of Israel, it is you who are not doing what’s right, not I.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!

These are words spoken to a nation complaining that God is not fair. They thought that the goodness of their forefathers might save them from destruction. The great men of their history like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David had built a God-fearing nation, and now it had drifted far away from those founding principles . . . yes, worshipping other gods, practicing religious prostitution and ritual murder, abusing the poor and neglecting their social obligations, but weren’t they still that exceptional nation!!  How could God judge them and allow this special nation to diminish, to be destroyed—even disappear?

“Do you think I like to see wicked people die?”  Some people believe God to be an evil judge, but that is nonsense. The whole story of the King of All Nations is that He calls nation after nation to repentance, to put rebellion behind, to find a new heart and a new spirit.  “Turn back and live.”

Prayer:  Father, we long for that new heart and new spirit. We fear death, both individually and as a nation, so we repent of doing evil. Give us leaders who will lead us in your path, away from all that is evil.  Forget our past sins, Father, and help us not depend on the merit of our forefathers. We accept the responsibility for ourselves and our nation today, and we turn to you.  Amen.

 

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King Solomon’s wisdom made him world renown, but unfortunately, his son and successor Rehoboam did not inherit his father’s gift.

Words:  1 Kings 12:1-20 (abridged)(NLT)              

Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam . . . .

 

To whom do those who want to lead the nation listen?  All leaders have those who want to influence them, to guide their decisions. These people are sometimes more influential than the leaders themselves because they work behind the scenes and often do not really have to answer to the public.  Knowing who these people are may make a difference in whom you want to choose as a national leader.

While it would be easy to say—and this text probably implies that it was so—that the big mistake was listening to the young advisors instead of the older ones, I really believe the bigger mistake that Rehoboam made is that he “paid no attention to the people.”  Disrespect is a tell-tale sign of a broken relationship. Paying no attention to the people and speaking “harshly” to them betrayed this new young ruler’s distant, self-serving heart. He paid for his disrespect by losing most of what he was trying to grab.

Lookout for the potential leader who disrespects the people and speaks harshly.

Prayer:  O Lord, it is hard for us to know who has the ear of our leaders.  So much is done in secret and hidden behind smokescreens. Be our protector. Give us leaders, Sovereign Lord, who respect the will of your people and who speak the truth, but speak kindly to us.  AMEN

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Word: 1 Kings 11:1-13 (NLT)

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.

In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.

On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.

The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”

 

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, lost his way when he lost his heart to women he should not have loved. Ancient rulers often married daughters of foreign kings in order to seal alliances and ensure peaceful coexistence. In spite of God’s extraordinary blessings that he had enjoyed his entire life, when he was old, these wives “turned his heart.”

The marital status and relationships of our national leaders are important!  They may tell us about constancy and faithfulness, about where the heart of that leader is!  And it would be a mistake not to believe that the spouse or the family of a leader does not have significant influence on the most important actions of that leader.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam would suffer the consequences of his father’s unfaithfulness. The people of the nation also suffered because Solomon “did not listen to the Lord’s command.” Our nation will suffer as well if our leaders have chosen significant relationships that would move their hearts toward “other gods,” whether that be power, wealth, influence—or other gods!

Prayer:  Father, we want to choose national leaders whose hearts are turned toward you. Help us to know the truth about their spouses, so that we might have insight into how they choose those who will influence them the most. If they have children, show us the values they have used to mold the people they love the most.  Give us leaders, Father, whose old age confirms their abiding faith in you and their love for obeying your will, not their own sense of entitlement.  Amen

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Day 16

Words:  Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NLT)

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

 

 

The ancient world was always looking for a way to know what was going to happen next. The limited knowledge of what we call science left them looking at bird entrails, animal bones, stars, and many other kinds of “signs.” Their world was full of sorcerers, seers, prophets, astrologers—often called “wise men.” When the young King Solomon asked God for wisdom above all else, he was not asking to become a “wise man” in this sense; he was asking God to help him know the difference between right and wrong, to know what was true and what was false.

In this text, Jeremiah says that those who trust in human wisdom or strength are like stunted shrubs in the desert, while those who trust in God, who look to him for knowing what the future holds, who find their confidence in Him, these people have deep roots and productive lives.

National leaders and those who would be leaders often say they can see, that they know the future, that they are “wise.” They ask for your trust and confidence.  In making critical choices, the human heart can be very deceitful. Especially in these times, we should search out leaders who trust in the Lord and not in their own wisdom, their own insights.  These are times for prayerful requests to the Sovereign Lord for wisdom to know what is true and false, right and wrong.

PRAYER:  Father, because of our frailty, we want to know what lies in front of us. We often follow people who tell us they are wise.  Our hearts are deceitful, so we pray for discernment, Father, to know who really knows right from wrong, truth from falsehood. We pray for leaders who trust in you, Lord.  Amen.

 

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This passage is very long, so I have abridged it for this reading, but I recommend you read the whole chapter for the full image.

Word:  Ezekiel 27 (abridged) (NLT)

27 Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, sing a funeral song for Tyre, that mighty gateway to the sea, the trading center of the world. Give Tyre this message from the Sovereign Lord:

“You boasted, O Tyre,
    ‘My beauty is perfect!’
You extended your boundaries into the sea.
    Your builders made your beauty perfect.
You were like a great ship
    built of the finest cypress from Senir.
They took a cedar from Lebanon
    to make a mast for you.
They carved your oars
    from the oaks of Bashan.
Your deck of pine from the coasts of Cyprus
    was inlaid with ivory.
Your sails were made of Egypt’s finest linen,
    and they flew as a banner above you.
You stood beneath blue and purple awnings
    made bright with dyes from the coasts of Elishah.
Your oarsmen came from Sidon and Arvad;
    your helmsmen were skilled men from Tyre itself.
Wise old craftsmen from Gebal did the caulking.
    Ships from every land came with goods to barter for your trade.

10 “Men from distant Persia, Lydia, and Libya served in your great army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, giving you great honor. 12 “Tarshish sent merchants to buy your wares in exchange for silver, iron, tin, and lead. 13 Merchants from Greece, Tubal, and Meshech brought slaves and articles of bronze to trade with you. . . .16 “Syria sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods. They traded turquoise, purple dyes, embroidery, fine linen, and jewelry of coral and rubies. 17 Judah and Israel traded for your wares, offering wheat from Minnith, figs, honey, olive oil, and balm.

18 “Damascus sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods . . . . 21 The Arabians and the princes of Kedar sent merchants to trade lambs and rams and male goats in exchange for your goods. . . .25 The ships of Tarshish were your ocean caravans. Your island warehouse was filled to the brim!

26 “But look! Your oarsmen
    have taken you into stormy seas!
A mighty eastern gale
    has wrecked you in the heart of the sea!
27 Everything is lost—
    your riches and wares,
your sailors and pilots,
    your ship builders, merchants, and warriors.
On the day of your ruin,
    everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea.
28 Your cities by the sea tremble
    as your pilots cry out in terror.
29 All the oarsmen abandon their ships;
    the sailors and pilots stand on the shore.
30 They cry aloud over you
    and weep bitterly.
They throw dust on their heads
    and roll in ashes.
31 They shave their heads in grief for you
    and dress themselves in burlap.
They weep for you with bitter anguish
    and deep mourning.
32 As they wail and mourn over you,
    they sing this sad funeral song:
‘Was there ever such a city as Tyre,
    now silent at the bottom of the sea?
33 The merchandise you traded
    satisfied the desires of many nations.
Kings at the ends of the earth
    were enriched by your trade.
34 Now you are a wrecked ship,
    broken at the bottom of the sea.
All your merchandise and crew
    have gone down with you.

Have you heard the expression “the ship of state?”  It’s a pretty metaphor made famous by Plato to describe the governing body of a nation.  Tyre was a port city whose history went back a thousand years before Abram. Tyre traded with the world and had great wealth.

But during the time of Ezekiel, Tyre had suffered in wars with first the Egyptians, then the Assyrians, and now (about 573 BC) with the Chaldeans. It would continue to exist by paying tribute to its conquerors until 332 BC when Alexander the Great laid siege to it, conquered it, then razed it, literally tossing the stones of Tyre into the sea.

Tyre was a successful business. It used its wealth to secure its borders, then later to buy its freedom. Finally though, in spite of its amazing history, in spite of its citizens’ extreme patriotism, in spite of what its loss meant to its trading partners, the ship of state was destroyed because its “oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas.”

It’s important to know that neither warriors nor wealth, neither patriotism nor global status, that nothing is enough to keep the ship of state afloat when those who row take it in the wrong direction. No ship of state is too valuable to fail! And when a nation sinks into history, it leaves all its wealth and business acumen, its military prowess and political clout behind—all of it 

Prayer: Father, You are King of all Nations. The life of every nation is in your hands, just as the life of every person. You give and you take away. Give us perspective, Father, and teach us that no kingdom is eternal except your kingdom!  Amen.

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King David served his nation well until the day he died. Before his death, David designated his son Solomon to take the throne. In this text, Solomon faces the choice of what he needs most as he assumes power and authority.

Word:  1 Kings 3:5-14 (NLT)

That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

 

Some leaders were older when chosen—like Moses and Joshua. We expect older people to have more experience, more information, bigger networks, and more confidence. But God often called younger people to be leaders, people like Queen Esther, Daniel, Josiah, and Solomon.  Perhaps a person’s age is one of those external factors like height that people tend to use as something upon which to base their leadership choices, while God is still more concerned about a person’s heart.

How many fairy tales hinge on the fairy godmother or the genii giving someone three wishes! As children we would always try to figure out how to turn three wishes into an infinite number of wishes by wishing that all our wishes would come true.  Most of those fairy tales end with a disastrous moral lesson to be careful for what one wishes.

This story of young Solomon is quite different. He has already inherited the throne. He has the wealth of his father as well as power over a consolidated nation.  He has absolute authority. For what could he ask God that he did not already have?  More wealth, more power, more fame?

Instead Solomon asked for an understanding heart, so that he could know the difference between right and wrong to govern the nation fairly—with justice.

Solomon was already wise!  He recognized that God had honored his father’s faithfulness, and that even his own existence was by the grace and mercy of God.  He certainly knew the story of his father David’s adultery and murder, but also of his penance and punishment when confronted with his sin. He could have been that child who died as a result of David’s sin—but he wasn’t.

Solomon was many things at the commencement of his reign, but he was not arrogant or conceited; rather, he recognized that God had placed him on the throne to judge between right and wrong—and for that he needed a greater portion of wisdom as do all national leaders.

Seek leaders, young or old, who know that their task is to judge right from wrong and who seek greater wisdom in order accomplish this task—and who seek it from God.

 

Prayer:  We have leaders who seek power. We have leaders who ask for authority. People want to be leaders who are arrogant and conceited, thinking they are wise—wiser than everyone, even You! Protect our nation from these kinds of leaders. Give us leaders who have understanding hearts, who want to know the difference between right and wrong, and who know they can only govern if you have given them wisdom.  Amen.

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Word:   Psalm 101 (NLT)

A psalm of David.

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.

 

David was chosen to be the leader of his nation because of his heart, not his experience, not his policies, not his looks.  Because judging a person’s heart is so very difficult, we need some hints, some clues as to what God really looks for in the heart of a national leader.

These are words from the heart of the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). If a nation could find such a leader, look what would disappear from government: crooks, perversions, slander, conceit and pride, even deceit and lies would disappear because this person after God’s own heart would see his/her daily task as freeing the city from the grip of the wicked.

Prayer: Before I blame others and accuse them of having flawed hearts, I pray that you will heal my heart of the damage my own will has done to it. Forgive me for not filling my heart with your words to protect my soul and to keep from damaging those around me.  Then forgiven, I pray for the nation and those who would lead us. Show us people whose daily task will be to free our cities from wickedness.  Show us people whose hearts are yours!  Amen.

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Words:   1 Samuel 16:1-13 (NLT)

16 Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”

But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”

So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”

“Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.”Next Jesse summoned Shimea,[a] but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” 10 In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.

 

After rejecting him as King, God gave the nation exactly the kind of man that they wanted–an impressive man named Saul.  He was the son of a wealthy, influential family, and he was what we would call today “presidential!”  He was head and shoulders taller than anyone else and handsome! Did you know that in American presidential elections, the vast majority of elected presidents have been markedly taller than the average male of their same birth year.  Scholars who study such facts speculate that it has to do with the appearance of health and dominance.  Saul turned out to be a terrible king.

Even God’s prophet Samuel needed to be reminded that a “presidential look” has nothing to do with what God sees in a person. “The Lord looks at the heart.”

Our ubiquitous media make it almost impossible to avoid judging candidates by their appearances: their hair, their ties—or no ties–, their ears, their weight, and certainly their height.  Many believe that Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election because of how he looked in the first televised presidential debate.

But it is hard to look at a person’s heart! These proverbs may teach us what it means to look at a person’s heart more as God does:

Proverbs 3:1       –   Store my [God’s] commands in your heart.

Proverbs 3:5       –  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 11:20  –  The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity.

Proverbs 15:7  –    The lips of the wise give good advice; the heart of a fool has none to give.

 

And, finally, Jesus said,

Luke 6:45   –         A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Luke 12:34 –       Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Matthew 15:18,19 –    But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.

 

Prayer: Give us your eyes, Father, so that we might see the hearts of those who desire to lead us. Deliver us from outward appearances and false impressions, but show us what is true, so that we can choose as you would choose.  Amen.

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