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“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over them….And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his officers and servants.”  1 Samuel 8: 10, 14

“Fear not, daughter of Zion, Behold your King is coming sitting on a donkey’s colt.”  John 12:15

In a country that has never been governed by or necessarily embraced the concept of a monarchy, it can be difficult at times to grasp the full implications of these kings and the differences between them.  However, that is not to  say that we are free from the oversight and trappings of power and the people who wield it.  In my days in military service, when a commanding general would visit, very much effort was put forth to make the squadron look just so and much discussion was had about what should be said and as importantly what should not be said.  In the corporate arena in which I have worked, it is extremely rare the Chief Executive Officer or President who can visit or walk around the company without an inordinate amount of fuss being made over him.  So it is we see power and service played out in the examples of Saul and Jesus Christ.

Saul initially is a reluctant king.  He was not born into process of becoming king.  In fact, his people (the Israelites) had never had a king before.  They lived in a land where all around them, friends and foes alike, were governed by a king.  Yet the Israelites had not had a need of a king; they were led directly by Our Heavenly Father.  Saul only found out that he was going to be king through Our Heavenly Father’s prophet, Samuel.  Initially, Saul relied on Samuel for guidance on what to do and how to be king.  By listening to that advice, Saul was successful.  Saul’s success brought with it the trappings of kingship.  Saul had many chariots and soldiers at his command.  Saul had many fields and possessions which came partly from the spoils of the conquered but also from his own subjects.  It was in that success and from those trappings where Saul’s downfall came.  For that success went to both his head and his heart.  His head told him that he didn’t have to listen to or wait on Samuel anymore, his heart wandered from needing the close, subservient relationship, with Our Heavenly Father.

Jesus, while born in the humblest of circumstances, was always a king.  Being born of a virgin, He needed no one to proclaim Him or crown Him king.  Jesus also knew that, while on this earth, the number of His followers was going to be very few.  Jesus was not going to have any chariots or armies for Him to command.  Rarely were any great numbers going to pay Him tribute.  Although ironically enough, His greatest earthly tribute came as He was humbly entering into His beloved Jerusalem; riding on a lowly donkey.  Yet Jesus lack of earthly, kingly trappings, never caused Him to lose the Heavenly Heart of the Servant King.  With His Heart firmly planted in the Will of His and our Heavenly Father, His Eternal Kingship was assured.

Two Kings; two tales.  One king, Saul, was of this world.  God’s plan was not that the Israelite’s should need an earthly king, but they rebelled.  The Israelites saw God through the eyes of men.  They saw Samuel as a prophet and for the most part listened and followed him as being the prophet of God.  But Samuel’s sons did not follow in Samuel’s ways.  They were corrupt.  The Israelites made the mistake of seeing God through the eyes of Samuel’s corrupt sons.  If the prophet’s sons can be corrupt and they are going to judge us, then God’s power is no longer good enough.  So give us a king like the world in the guise of what other people have.  That will be good enough for us.  And should that king require from us, some of our lands, our sons and our daughters, levy taxes on us, lead us into his wars; that’s okay.  That’s what kings do.

Then there is Jesus Christ. A King, not of this earth (as he specifically said) but a King nonetheless.  His people did not ask for Him.  They did not even believe, for the most part, that He was a King.  He surely did not act like a king.  Where was His chariots, His army, the blaring trumpets that should be announcing His arrival?  Kings don’t eat with the lowly.  Kings don’t bother with the poor, let alone heal them.  A king should never wash any feet.  It is hard to see how a king would humble himself to ride into his capital, riding on a simple animal.  And no king would ever submit to dying as a common criminal when He had done no wrong.  Kings just don’t do that.

Today we have to decide just what kind of King we want to serve.  The world has many “kings” in it.  Our king may be our boss or our spouse. Our king may be a person we’re trying to impress a person we are trying to become.  Our king maybe a specific person or just a position or title we pay homage to.  The world tells us those are all proper kings to bow down to and to serve.  Or we can serve a King who first and foremost loves us.  A King who said:  “I come to serve not to be served.”  A King whose commands have to do with not serving Him but serving each other.  A King who says it is not just about Loving and adoring Him but it is as much about how we love His servants an honor each other as well.  An earthly king takes; the One and Only True Heavenly King gives.  He gives love.  He gives blessings.  He sacrificed all; even His very life so that we, His unworthy servants could live eternally with Him.  Hail to King Jesus Christ!  Forever may He reign.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father.  Thank you for the King of Kings, who is Your Son Jesus Christ.  Thank you that Christ did not come as an earthly king would, with demands of tribute and sacrifice.  Thank you that Christ came in love, willing to sacrifice all for us.  May it be, Merciful Father, that we strive to be His subjects, imitating His ways in our lives.  That we may serve all others with mercy, love and kindness and not in harsh judgement or worldly power.  That we see Jesus Christ as our King of Kings in this life and that we may come and be forever in His presence in the next we pray.  In the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

“So it was….that God gave him another heart and all the signs came to pass that day.”  1 Samuel 10:9

Saul is out looking for his father’s lost donkeys.  It had been three days and he and his companion have had no luck finding the runaway beasts.  Saul and his companion are about to give up when his companion remembers that there is a man of God, a seer, they called him living in the town.  Saul decides to go see him.

The next day, Saul meets Samuel hoping that Samuel will have some divine guidance about the lost donkeys.  Instead, Samuel tells Saul that they are to spend time together eating and he also tells him that all the desire of Israel rests on Saul.  Saul does not know that he is to become the first king of Israel.  He is not a politician or famous for anything so far in Israel.  In fact, in response to Samuel’s greeting (still not knowing of the impending kingship), Saul answers:  “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest tribes of Israel and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?  No, it is very clear to Saul that great things are not in store for him now or in the future.

Saul is a little confounded that Samuel leads him into a great hall and seats him at the place of highest honor.  Also, the best cut of meat is brought and placed before Saul for him to eat.  They spend the rest of the day talking and the next day Saul is planning to return to his father.  In his mind, back to the life that he knew.  Samuel tells Saul of people he will meet and what is going to happen upon their meeting and that these would be signs.  It is then that everything changes for Saul.  He turns to leave Samuel, to go back to his life most assuredly pondering that strange thing that this prophet had said to him.  Then God enters into Saul and gives him a new heart.  It is with that new heart that Saul is now open to what Samuel had said, open to where God was leading him, open to the mission that God had for him.

A new heart.  A heart from God.  Now we begin to see the great lengths that God will go to grant us success and blessings in the tasks He appoints for us.  Whether it is heart of courage and leadership to a man like Moses, the heart to believe that there is a promised land with a son to share it with even to someone as old as Abraham, or the heart to accept bearing the Son of God to a poor peasant virgin, God will supply the heart we need.

Finally, the heart given to Saul and what he does with it, teaches us another great lesson.  For we must be diligent in our prayer and humble in our person to follow that heart.  For Saul started out as a mighty and righteous king, winning many battles for Israel.  Whether or not he forgot that he had been given a new heart or pridefully believed the heart and its strength were only his, Saul disobeys God and his heart and his life become broken.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, may it be that we long for the heart from God.  Samuel told Saul that he must wait patiently for seven days and so for us we must wait upon God to provide.  Though once He provides, we must be ready to let that heart beat strong for us giving us His life’s blood and strength to confidently go out and conquer whatever task God has set before us.  And this is extremely important, once we have conquered, we must humbly give thanks and praise to the One who gave His heart to us allowing us to triumph.

It is when we are the stillest that we can here our heart beating.  God will come to us in that stillness and give us (or perhaps for some the heart has already been transplanted) the heart that we need.  May we it be a heart dedicated to the Love and Praise of Our Heavenly Father.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are not sufficient to accomplish that which You have placed before us; alone.  We know and pray that You will give to us a new heart, a heart from You, just like You did Saul.  Help us to be strong and confident in using that new heart, Almighty Father in completing the mission You have for us.  Please, Most Merciful Father, give us a spirit of humility, that in successfully fulfilling that mission we will not turn from You claiming our own glory.  That with Your gift of heart forever beating within us, we will live a life worthy of Your Praise.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.

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