Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Great grace

I don't know about you, but when I think about King Saul from the Old Testament, I don't think of him favourably. I remember that he was proud, jealous and tried to kill David several times. However, he didn't start out being king like that. I was surprised to read the following verses;

1 Samuel 10:27 (ESV): But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace

1 Samuel 11:12–15 (ESV): Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. 

Now what kind of man is described in those verses?
It's someone who; ignores snubs, doesn't seek revenge, is humble, recognises there's a higher authority than himself, sees the bigger picture and knows how and when to celebrate. 
This is the Saul who was chosen to reign; a man with great humility, who isn't jealous, but who is confident in who he is and who God is. He is a man that doesn't choose to get even, even though that would be an accepted and expected thing to do. In fact, Saul chooses to see the good in the situation not the bad or difficult. He rises above the haters and realises God's plan is greater than any personal offence. In this situation, at the beginning of his reign, Saul chose to see the bigger picture and he acted in generosity and kindness. That's a good king! 

Imagine then how those who'd been against Saul must feel now. He's overlooked their snubs for a while, he's just come back from war and is faced with what to do with those who have been against him. They would probably of been in fear of their lives. Instead of punishment, torture or death though, they experience forgiveness and grace. I bet that shut up their complaints! 
I imagine they probably felt quite embarrassed - they'd spoken against someone who was clearly anointed, hand-picked by God, a victorious warrior and they've been let off the hook. They spoke against the great leader and victor of this battle, the one who brought the whole country to triumph. They must of been embarrassed and terrified. They've just seen what Saul can do - he's just led an army to victory - now what's going to happen to them? Instead of punishment, Saul overlooks their wrong. Wow! He refuses to focus on their little rebellion but calls people to focus on the great saving work God has done. What a relief! What grace! What freedom those men must of experienced! 

Can you imagine how that must of changed the atmosphere? Their commitment to him as leader? How would that effect their behaviour from then on? Would they continue to work against Saul?

I imagine those who'd been against him would realise what a lucky escape they'd had! They would probably be grateful, more peaceful men who realise the type of man who is their king. Saul was not one who wants to Lord it over them, but one who wants to work together to bring salvation in Israel. 
What a good king Saul was. He extended grace when others were opposing him. He must of won hearts and influence amongst the people.

Do you want to be like that? The reality is, wherever you are and whoever you are the likelihood is that people will come against you. How do you react when that happens? What is your response? Do you overlook offence and look at God's salvation? Do you extend grace and forgiveness and just get on with what God has put in your hand to do? Or do you react somewhat differently? 

Saul didn't sulk, or consider revenge, he knew he was anointed for purpose and he got on with what he was meant to be doing.
The result? At the end of the chapter it states; 'they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.' 

Great rejoicing follows great grace. Everyone gets to enjoy the victory of grace and forgiveness.

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