PART 9 THE FACETS OF DEATH

PART 9 THE FACETS OF DEATH

9

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN AN OLD TESTAMENT KING ASKED GOD FOR GUIDANCE AND WAS DENIED HELP?                          

Following the death of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan, the nation was ruled by people known as judges. These were men or women appointed by God to deliver up His people when they had fallen into hardship at the hands of their enemies due to the worship of false gods. For over a period of about 350 years, 15 different judges reigned. And then a change in leadership was desired by them? Why was this requested, and what new form of authority was instituted? Please go to the book of 1 Samuel, and we will find out.

 

1 Samuel 8:1-3; 9:1-27; 18:8-10a; 28:7, 16, 19

8:1-3 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

Both of Samuel’s sons were appointed to be judges. However, it was known throughout the kingdom that they did not walk according to the tenets of the Mosaic Law, but rather had a love for lucre (profit) that was obtained wrongfully through the taking of bribes [to something given or paid to a person (often in secret) in order to encourage him to act the way the giver wants him to act, even if the act is wrong or unjust30]. The people decided that it would be better to have a king rule over them like other nations than to be under the leadership of Samuel’s wicked sons. It’s interesting that they didn’t go before the prophet Samuel and ask him to intercede to God for them to raise up someone else who followed Him to be the next judge. Unfortunately, they didn’t. So, God granted their request for a king to be placed over them.

1 Samuel 9:3 And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.

The name of this soon-to-be king was called Saul. Little did he know that when he and his servant were sent by his father to locate some missing donkeys that they would meet up with the prophet Samuel along the way, whom God informed as to when, where, and why this encounter was to take place. Eventually, Saul arrived at the gate of a city, where Samuel was waiting for him.    

Saul asked him about the missing donkeys, about which Samuel told him not to worry about them as they had already been found. He then proceeded to tell him of the fact that God had chosen him to be the next leader over the nation of Israel. Can you imagine what was going in his mind when he heard this? He might have been thinking; you have got to be kidding; you have the wrong guy.   

After this declaration, Saul followed him to the top of a house, where he shared with him the Word of the Lord and then anointed him with oil. Clear instructions were given to him as to where he should go after he left Samuel’s presence and what to expect when he got there. To which instructions he followed exactly what he was told to do, to the tee.

Lo and behold, Israel had her first king. His reign was initially marked by military victories over Israel’s enemies, but at times he exhibited character traits that were not of divine orientation. While no one is perfect, it appears that he didn’t seem to learn from his errant decisions that emanated from human viewpoint. One could assume that his many issues could be attributed to spending little time learning and appropriating God’s commands, judgments, testimonies, and statutes from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

This was evident in so many instances. For example, in a battle with the Amalekites, he was instructed by the prophet/judge Samuel to kill all the people, their King Agag, along with all of the livestock. Saul obeyed this admonition as he saw fit. He killed all but spared the king and the choice livestock. In a later encounter with the Philistines, who sent out their champion warrior named Goliath to taunt their army and their God, Saul chose not to inquire of the Lord for guidance. Instead, someone else who followed Yahweh, a shepherd boy named David, showed up on the scene. When he became aware that no one from the army would challenge the giant, he ran toward him in the name of the Lord with a sling and five stones. All that was needed was one stone, which, after it was slung, hit him squarely in his forehead, causing him to fall to the ground. This gave Dave the opportunity to finish the job and take him out.

1 Samuel 18:8-10a And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, …

Saul became extremely jealous of David when he heard the responses by many of the people of the kingdom who praised his conquest over Goliath above the military victories of his own. It seems that incessant jealousy caused him to even imagine that at some point, David would attempt to overthrow his kingship. Eventually, Saul tried to kill him with his own hand when he was in his company. Subsequently, David decided to remove himself from his presence. But this didn’t deter the king. He decided to hunt him down with the nation’s army by his side. God, witnessing what was taking place and being aware that His appointed king was not confessing known sin and recovering from it, decided to remove the on-resting Spirit from him and give him an evil spirit (an evil mindset) instead.

1 Samuel 28:1a, 4-6 And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel… And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

Unfortunately for Saul, his day of reckoning has now arrived. As we have come to realize through Scripture that Saul lived for most of his reign, relying upon himself for guidance. And he is now in a predicament. A battle between Israel and one of their chief enemies, the Philistines, is about to take place. When he went up to a high place and was able to get a good view of the enemy company, he realized that this was not going to end well. Even though his relationship with God had been nonexistent for a while, he sought to inquire counsel from Him through various means (e.g., dreams, prophets, and Urim), probably figuring that he had nothing to lose. However, God chose not to provide him with counsel by either of these means.

1 Samuel 28:7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

Being desperate, he resorted to seeking out a woman who had a familiar spirit. She was otherwise known as a medium, one who was possessed with an evil spirit. The words familiar spirit indicate that she could call up departed spirits to give answers to those who consulted them.31 Just who are these departed spirits? Some say they are the spirits of those, who didn’t believe in God when they lived on the earth, and after they died, they went to a place in hell called torments. Others believe these are not the spirits of the human dead at all but are demons (fallen angels) who are impersonating the dead. And by the way, there was also another group of spirits residing in hell in a place called Abraham’s bosom or Paradise. These were the spirits of Old Testament saints who believed in Jehovah-God as He was revealed. Luke 16:19-31; Luke 23:39-43; 1 Peter 3:18-19       

1 Samuel 28:16, 19 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

The medium proceeded to ask Saul, who would he like to hear from, and he replied Samuel, whom we know as being the former prophet/judge of Israel. When she sees Samuel’s form, she cries out as if in shock, being fearful for her life because she realizes who it was that was before her asking this request, i.e., King Saul of Israel. When Samuel appeared, he proceeds to ask Saul why he summoned him. Saul replied because he had attempted to receive direction from the Lord as to the outcome of the upcoming battle with the Philistines, to which He chose not to reply.

Evidently, God communicated the reason to Samuel to convey to Saul. Samuel said that God had chosen not to confer with him because of his continual disobedience to His directives. Furthermore, he told him that Israel would not only be defeated in battle but along with this, both he and his sons would be killed.

So, here is a story of someone who was chosen to be the first king of Israel. He seemed to start out well by obeying God’s instructions through the relaying of such by Samuel, but he didn’t grow spiritually, which was probably the result of neglecting God’s truths as revealed in the first five books of the Bible. Therefore, the propensities of his flesh, i.e., jealousy, fear, worry, and disobedience, were never addressed by him and thus were the catalysts for his many misguided decisions.

His over occupation with these carnal passions and thoughts resulted in acting out in a manner unbecoming of a man of God. As a result, God would not respond to any of his attempts to seek the counsel of Him when he needed Him most. At times, it did appear that he repented, but he never recovered. What I mean by this is he didn’t search out God’s perspective from the Word, memorize, meditate upon it, and apply it when needed.

Saul reaped the misery of soul, which he inflicted on others. For a believer in God, this is probably one of the worst types of a death sentence imposed. A life that was cut short in time instead of being prolonged by divine intervention, counsel, and victory.

Like Saul, if we choose to walk in the ways of the former person who we used to be after we have become made anew at salvation, our sin nature will take precedence instead of God’s Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let’s agree right now that this is not the way our new life will turn out. The article that I have left for you to read will tell us how to become a spiritual overcomer so that our old life doesn’t have to continue to control us. Enjoy.

 

DEFINITION OF AN OVERCOMER

Here is a definition of an Overcomer. Overcomers are those victorious ones who have learned how to master the flesh, prevail over the [world,] and conquer the [Devil] only through Christ’s Life in them.

Last month, since Valentine’s [Day,] was coming, we diverted a little from our series and talked about my favorite subject, the Love of God. God’s Love should be our passion, our [goal,] and our purpose as Christians. The Epistle of John tells us the whole Bible is summed up in one word, (Agape) Love.

In order to love as God would have us, however, we must learn not only how to be an open and clean vessel for Him to [use] but also how to “overcome” the world, the [flesh,] and the [Devil] in our personal lives. This article, then, is the first in a new series about “overcoming”—what overcoming is; how we overcome; and again, why overcoming is so very important.

Being an overcomer (so we can love as God desires) is what the Christian life is all about. It’s what we are called for, trained [for,] and the purpose of our sanctification. Overcomers are the ones who will inherit the future [kingdom] because they are able to produce “works of the Spirit” (works of Love) in their lives here and now.

In other words, sanctification (becoming clean and open vessels for God’s use) is what leads us to partaking (experiencing Christ’s Life through us); and partaking is what leads us to overcoming ([loving as God desires]), and overcoming is what leads us to inheriting (ruling and reigning in the coming kingdom).

Many of us have been taught that if we are true believers, we are automatically “overcomers.” The Scripture used as proof text is in 1 John:

For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.  – 1 John 5:4

Positionally [(because of Jesus’ death for us on the Cross),] it is absolutely true that we, as believers, are all overcomers. At our justification (our new birth), God gives us the power and the ability to overcome the world, the [flesh,] and the [Devil]. The problem is that experientially [(moment by moment),] many of us have no idea how to become overcomers! In fact, “daily” overcoming the world, the [flesh,] and the [Devil] is often very foreign to us.

If it’s true that all believers are overcomers regardless of what they do here and now, then those living carnal, ungodly [lifestyles] (drugs, sex, alcohol, “anything that is not of faith,” Romans 14:23) are right in saying, “Hey, I’m saved. It doesn’t matter what I do with my life here and now!” And if that’s true, then why does 1 Corinthians 3:14–15 tell us: “If any man’s work [what we do here and now] abide which he hath built upon it, he shall receive a reward; If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved…” And also, 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done [here and now], whether it be good or bad.”

The Greek word for “overcome” is nikao [(Strong’s #3528),] which means to conquer or “gain the victory over” something. It occurs 20 times in Revelation alone and means to have victory over hostile powers. 

Overcomers are those victorious ones who have learned how to master the flesh, prevail over the [world,] and conquer the [Devil] only through Christ’s Life in them. They are the genuine winners! (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37) They have learned to set themselves aside and depend upon His power and His authority to bring about His will. Overcomers are those who willingly relinquish how they feel and what they think and, by faith, choose to trust God’s indwelling power to bring it about. (Galatians 2:20) Overcomers have survived the furnace of affliction and have come forth as pure gold. They have followed in Christ’s footsteps. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

Overcomers are not “perfect” by any means, but they are always willing to choose God’s will over their own, again and [again,] and again. That’s why they are called “overcomers.”

Yes, it’s true that we all are meant to be overcomers because Christ, who is the real overcomer, lives in us. However, not all of us choose day by day to lay our lives down so that He can live His overcoming Life out through us. It would be like saying all those that have God’s eternal Life in their [hearts] always show forth that Life in their souls. Unfortunately, we don’t! A personal choice is always [involved, just] like some of us choose at times not to love with God’s Love, nor use His wisdom nor rely upon His power. In the same way, we are not overcomers automatically! Again, it all depends upon our moment-by-moment choice to let Christ live His Life out through us by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Let me again emphasize this does not mean “being perfect”! None of us are [perfect,] nor can we be. Jesus is the only “perfect One.” But, as we make “faith choices” (choices we don’t necessarily feel or even want to make), Jesus’ Life can come forth from our [hearts,] and He will enable us to produce “fruits of the Spirit.”

 

The Authority to Overcome

God has not only given us His resurrection power to accomplish His will in our lives when we are unable to do so in our own natural strength, [but] He also has given us the authority to choose His will even when we don’t feel like it. After being a Christian for over 55 years, I can honestly say this is one of the most important principles of our entire Christian walk. We don’t have to “feel” our choices to do God’s will; we just have to be willing to make those choices.

The Greek word for this kind of authority is exousia (Strong’s #1849), which means the right to exercise power or the right of the person in charge. This authority originates with God because, if we belong to Him, He is obviously the Person in charge. He is the ultimate source of all authority. He, then, passed that authority on to Christ, and through Christ, to us. (Matthew 28:18–20) Exousia belongs to God Himself, but He has commissioned us as His representatives so we, too, can be bearers of His authority. (Philippians 2:13)

The question so many [ask] is: Do we have the authority to choose to do something we really don’t feel or even want to do? Is this a legitimate choice? Can we override our real feelings in order to do this? The answer is absolutely!

We not only have God’s authority (exousia) to make choices we don’t [feel,] but also, we have His strength (kratoms) to implement those choices in our lives. Otherwise, God’s power would be of no use to us. These are called “sonship” rights.” John 1:12 confirms this: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.”

The Dictionary of New Testament Theology says, “Our authority is founded in the rule of Christ.” We exercise that power only by the authority or the dominion that God has given us. The Word of God gives us the authority, and the Spirit of God gives us the power. These phenomenal gifts are ours through our new birth and operational through sanctification. Whether we use them or not is up to us.

Therefore, our constant prayer should be just as Jesus prayed in Matthew 26:39: “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Not my will, but Yours Lord.)32

What a beautiful dissertation on the topic of overcoming and its relationship to both spiritual and physical death.

    

I thought of another story about death for us to consider in the next chapter. This has to do with another king who asked God to grant him a very unusual request, which, believe it or not, God granted. I can’t think of any of the other kings of Israel that asked this of God. Any idea as to who this king is and what his request was?

 

Endnotes

30UBS.

31Barnes.                                                                                                                                

32Nancy Misler. “Definition of an Overcomer.” The King’s Highway Ministries 03 September 2020 <https://kingshighway.org/inspiration/articles/rewards-overcoming/definition-of-an-overcomer/>.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ITJ1wj

Website: http://bit.ly/1RQnYJ8          

 

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Synopsis
What happened when an Old Testament king asked God for guidance and was denied help?
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