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But Who is Their Father

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1 Sam. 9:27-10:13


Introduction:  Have you ever wished for opportunities for Christian service?  Have you ever heard opportunities announced and thought, “I wish I could do that,” or, “I could never do that!”  Or perhaps you’ve started some work, only to lose hope as the situation began to feel impossible.

I want to share a life-changing principle with you from the life of Saul. 

Let’s do some work first of all, and set the context:

The people had cried out for a king.  The Lord responds to their request (8:21-22).  The scene immediately shifts, and we are introduced to a man named Kish, a wealthy man of the tribe of Benjamin (9:1).

• As far as we can tell, his only significant accomplishment was that he had a son . . . and quite a son! (9:2)

• One day, Kish sent his son Saul on a mission – recover some lost donkeys. (9:3)

• Saul started out in his home town of Gibeah – about three miles north of Jerusalem.  He headed north-northwest into the mountains of Ephraim, passing through several towns with no luck, until he reached Zuph, somewhere northwest of Shiloh.  By then, Saul felt that his father would have begun to worry about him, so he turned toward home in failure.

• On the way, they came to a city.  As they passed the city, it just “happened” that the circuit-riding prophet Samuel was passing through for a sacrificial festival.

• As they passed by the city, Saul’s servant suggested that they visit Samuel, the “seer”.  It’s more than an interesting side-note that Samuel was called the “seer,” the ro-eh’.  The Hebrew root is raw-aw’, which literally means “to see, to advise, to discern.”  In its noun form, the word referred to a bird of pray, like a vulture, known for its keen sight.  So the servant says, “Let’s go see the old buzzard Samuel.”

• As they enter the town, Samuel greets them.  Now, the day before, God had told Samuel that He would be sending to Samuel the man who was to be anointed king of Israel.  When Samuel laid eyes on Saul, God spoke to Samuel, and said, “Behold the man whom I spake to thee of!”

• Samuel sends Saul up to the house to eat with him, telling him not to worry about the donkeys—that they have been found.  He then tells Saul that all of Israel’s desires were on Saul – he was the fulfillment of all their selfish, carnal, worldly desires.  Today, we might say that Saul was everything they wanted in a king.

• The feast progresses, with Saul receiving a favored seat, and a favored portion.  Samuel is grooming him to be a figure for respect.

• Now, we come to our text.  It’s the next morning, and Saul and his servant are going home.  Samuel sends the servant on ahead, and we have the climax of the story—Saul is anointed king of Israel.

• Saul’s response was one of disbelief—he was, after all, a pretty insignificant guy from a nowhere town.  He wasn’t even from the right tribe!  He was a Benjamite!  Gen. 49:10

• But, God has been pretty patient with human frailty throughout these events, and He will continue to be.  He gives Samuel 3 more signs for Saul:

            1. On their way home, when they reached Rachel’s tomb, they would meet two men.  These men would give them news from home – about Kish’s missing donkeys, and his worry for his missing son.  Worldly cares and menial tasks were behind him now.

            2. At another landmark, they would encounter three men going to Bethel to sacrifice to God.  Out of their sacrificial provisions, they would give Saul two loaves of bread.  He was worthy of sacred respect, as God’s anointed.

            3. At the garrison of the Philistines, he would encounter a band of prophets, and would be overcome with the Spirit of God and begin prophesying himself.

- Not surprisingly, all three events came to pass.  We’re going to focus on the events surrounding this third sign.  Now we need to slow down a moment and make sure we have a clear picture of what’s going on.

• As he left Samuel, “God gave him a new heart.”  Matthew Henry writes:

“A new fire was kindled in his breast, such as he had never before been acquainted with: seeking the asses is quite out of his mind, and he thinks of nothing but fighting the Philistines, redressing the grievances of Israel, making laws, administering justice, and providing for the public safety; these are the things that now fill his head. He finds himself raised to such a pitch of boldness and bravery as he never thought he should be conscious of. He has no longer the heart of a husbandman, which is low, and mean, and narrow, and concerned only about his corn and cattle; but the heart of a statesman, a general, a prince.”

• After Saul receives a king’s heart from God, we shouldn’t be surprised at all that, just as Samuel, the seer, saw, here came a group of prophets, singing and praising God on harps, tambourines, and flutes.

* These were not prophets in the same sense that Samuel was.  These were not seers, not ro-eh’.  They were naw-bee’.  This was a generic term for one who would speak or sing under inspiration.  They weren’t telling the future – they were praising God in song!  That’s why the Bible talks about all of the instruments that were preceding them.  1 Chron. 25:1

- These were like roving bands of Seminary students who were probably learning under Samuel, and travelling around teaching Israel through lessons and songs.

• When they met the prophets, the Spirit of God came upon Saul.  Literally, the Hebrew reads “rushed upon him.”  As happened in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon Saul for a special service and then, as suddenly, left.  In this case, the service was joining the prophets in preaching, singing and praying to God.

• Now, here’s where we get to a couple of very interesting questions that are posed by these confused onlookers.  Let me read to you from The Bible in Basic English:

“And when they came to Gibeah, a band of prophets came face to face with him; and the spirit of God came on him with power and he took his place among them as a prophet.

 11 Now when Saul's old friends saw him among the band of prophets, the people said to one another, What has come to Saul, the son of Kish? Is even Saul among the prophets?

 12 And one of the people of that place said in answer, And who is their father? So it became a common saying, Is even Saul among the prophets?”

- The first question is raised as it sinks in what Saul is doing.  Here is this carefree, regular Joe – this guy who used to care about nothing beyond the boundaries of his father’s land – prophesying!

- And the question is raised . . . “Is Saul among the prophets?”

“Isn’t that Kish’s boy?”

“Isn’t that the neighbor kid?”

“What’s he doing out there?”

“Since when did he talk about such things?”

“Is Saul among the prophets?”

• But then someone else in the crowd responds, “But who is their father?”

* We MUST NOT skip over this question – it has so much to say to us today!

“Who is their father?”

• What was this guy asking?

- “Who are these other guys?  They didn’t come from an elite pedigree.  They didn’t come from some exclusive bloodline.  They didn’t have some prior claim to any exalted position.  Sure, Saul was just the son of Kish, but while we’re on the subject, who is their father?

* You see, Saul had only one claim to be among the prophets that day, and it wasn’t his bloodline.

            - it wasn’t an education

            - it wasn’t a great spiritual pedigree – he wasn’t the

  son of a prophet

            - it wasn’t because he had great knowledge of the law

            - it wasn’t because he had been cloistered among

   priests and scribes as a child.

            - He had a normal, everyday, good-old-boy


* “I know,” some may say, “it was because he was available.  The greatest ability is availability.”

- Really?  How available was he?  What was his response when Samuel told him God’s will for his life?  9:19-21

- What was his response later, when Samuel wanted to publicly inaugurate him?  10:20-22

- It wasn’t his availability. 

Illus:  From the perspective of sheer, raw manifestations of God’s power, no one in the Old Testament was used more than Moses.  But how available was he?  God kept having to overcome one excuse after another.  It isn’t about availability—it’s never about our attitude!

* There was only one thing that qualified Saul to be among the prophets that day – he was chosen.

- God had chosen Saul to be king, and God had chosen to put Saul among the prophets as a sign.  God had chosen to overcome Saul with His Spirit and enable him to prophesy.  God chose!

- Don’t be quick to set aside the sovereign working of God.

* So, am I chosen?  Glad you asked.  John 15:16-19

- “Well,” you say, “that was the disciples.”  Eph. 1:3-11; II Thess. 2:13-17; II Timothy 2:4; James 2:5; I Pet. 1:1-2; 2:9

• The Greek word for “chosen” is eklektoV, which means “picked out, select.”  In the secular sense, it was used among other things to refer to elite soldiers who were pulled out of the ranks for special duties.

• One very technical commentary states, “. . . the whole of the divine work, salvation, the new creation, from its pre-temporal origin to the final glorification, is summed up in the one term.”

- If you are saved, you are chosen.

* “Well, how do I know what opportunities God is placing in front of me to do?  How do I know what His will is?”

- Well, let’s see, he’s saved you. He’s placed you specifically in this body.  And from time to time this body has need of people to perform tasks.  It may be a lawn that needs mowed.  It may be community outreach.  It may be a mission trip. 

- Whatever the task, God has placed you here in the body.  The body has needs.  What more sign do you require??

• So, “Is Saul among the prophets?”  Yes!  Why?  CHOSEN

• Yes, there are specific qualifications for certain offices.  But that does not excuse you from service.

- If you’re saying you can’t serve like pastor so-and-so

- If you’re petrified at the thought of going out on visitation

- If the thought of handing someone an ITL scares you

- If you’re convinced that you’re not talented enough

            - that you come from the wrong kind of family

            - that you’re not smart enough

            - that you should’ve gone to Bible college

            - that you’ll never be able to ___________

- If you look at pastors and missionaries, then at yourself, and say, “What could I be doing there?”  Well, “Who is their father?”

- Think about the people that Jesus specifically chose to do His work!  Mark 3:13-15

Illus:  (Memo to Jesus)

TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph

Wood Crafters Shop


FROM: Jordan Management Consultants



Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we have also discussed all of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultants.


It is the staff's opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.


Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. He seems well acquainted with both James and John and it is our considered opinion that these three, working close together, may indeed attempt to form some kind of "clique" within your work group.


Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. He appears to be a very quiet individual, and somewhat of a "loner" not at all suitable for the type of teamwork that you will require.


The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. John seems far more self-centered than James, from what we can determine, and delights in referring to himself as "the beloved one", though we were unable to determine exactly why.


Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. Our battery of tests indicate that this man would probably accept nothing on faith alone and everything would have to be proven to him -- wasting a great deal of time.


We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. Even if that weren't the case, we find your consideration of a former Tax Collector an odd choice for the kind of public relations your organization will require.


James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.


With the exception of Matthew, this is a working-class group, not at all familiar with the tactics needed to persuade the masses that the goals you outlined can indeed be achieved. I mean, let's be frank here -- four of these "gentlemen" are fishermen!


One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and innovative. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your comptroller and right hand man.


We wish you every success in your new venture. Since we generally follow-up on all of our clients, please let us know what success you have.

- Who did Jesus select as disciples?

            A handful of industrial fishermen

            A political turncoat and extortioner

            A skeptic

            A thief

            A dissident with links to a terrorist organization

Illus: Retired Methodist minister Grafton Pressley wrote:

“I sinned once.  It was during a weak season . . . called life.”

* How can I serve God?  It’s simple.  You’re chosen.

• Not only are you chosen, you’re equipped with the same Spirit that enabled Saul.

- If you think you can’t, you’re right.  You can’t; never could.  He can; always said He would.

• But we can’t gloss over the first question: “Is Saul among the prophets?”

- Think about what we know of his life for a moment – was it the kind of life that really fits in with your picture of serving God?

- Because Matthew Henry points out that Saul among the prophets is still Saul.

- the Saul who disobeyed God and spared Agag so he could have a trophy . . . among the prophets?

- the Saul who invaded the priests’ office and took it on himself to make sacrifices . . . among the prophets?

- the Saul who became obsessed with his own power until he tried to assassinate the hero of Israel . . . among the prophets?

- the Saul who consulted black magic for guidance . . . among the prophets?

- the Saul who hunted his own son-in-law like a rabid dog . . . among the prophets?

- we have no evidence that his life before this experience was one that showed any concern for the things of God, either.  Remember that his servant had to suggest going to Samuel in the first place.

- And this change didn’t last.  1 Sam. 19:18-24

* The question is: if you were to engage in Christian witness, what would be the reaction of those who know you?

Acts 24:16, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”

Conclusion:  You can serve God.  If you are a Christian, you meet the one necessary criterion – chosen by God.  And He in turn has equipped you to fulfill the task He’s given, so that He is literally “the dynamic of His own demands”.  So don’t let those who scoff rob you of the confidence you can have in Christ.

At the same time, you have an obligation to live in such a way that seeing you in God’s service isn’t a joke.

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