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May 22, Day #143 – Be Careful What You Pray For

In 1 Samuel 8:1-10:8, we read that “when Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel … but his sons did not walk in his ways … they turned aside after dishonest gain, accepted bribes, and perverted justice” (verse 1-3). Here, we learn that God’s servants must exercise incredible leadership in teaching their own children to recognize, love, and serve the Lord properly. Moreover, growing up in a spiritual home is no guarantee of continuing spirituality. Every new generation must be won to Christ. Clearly, Samuel’s sons had a spiritual heritage and probably every advantage as they grew up under his authority. The elders of Israel recognized that Samuel’s sons “did not walk in his ways” (verse 3). How heartbreaking this must have been for Samuel! We can teach our children to follow Christ, but we cannot force them to do so. The elders said, “Give us a king” (verse 6) which “displeased Samuel” (verse 6). However, God pointed out to Samuel that he was not being rejected – the people were rejecting God (verse 7). This brings us to another lesson we need to learn – we need to be extremely careful about the things we pray for … God may indeed give us what we want - as He did in giving the Israelites a king - but what we want may not be good for us. God gave the people of Israel what they demanded, but it was to their own destruction. In the end, most of their kings proved largely to be authoritarian, selfish, unsavory, unsatisfactory, and harmful to the nation. Whenever we pray, we need to seek first of all the will of God for us and, second, to subordinate our own desires to Him and His will. In chapters 9-10, we see that Samuel anoints Saul - whom we first meet – searching for his father’s lost donkeys. It is interesting that, after a fruitless search, Saul says “let’s go back,” but Saul’s servant suggests consulting “the man of God” (verses 5-6). In chapter 10, after Samuel rebukes the Israelites for rejecting God, Saul is made king, and although Saul’s reputation is somewhat questionable (cf., verses 11-13; 22; and 27), he begins the kingdom in Israel with the blessings of God and of Samuel (verse 24).

Psalm 65 reminds us how good God is – “He hears our prayers” (verse 2); “forgives our transgressions” (verse 3); “fills us with good things” (verse 4); “is our Savior and the hope of … all the earth” (verse 5); “stills the turmoil of the nations” (verse 7); and, among other things, "He enriches the land abundantly” (verse 9). This Psalm tells us how God demonstrates His goodness to all His creation, including to us as His creatures. We need to read this Psalm often and allow it to remind us frequently of God’s goodness to us.

In John 12:12-36, we read about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. John’s main purpose here is to show how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that were written about Him, but the people misunderstood this coming. Interestingly, John writes in verse 16 that even “the disciples “did not understand all this until after Jesus was glorified.” This reveals how short-sighted we humans are about reading the Scriptures - we forget what we read so easily and quickly; thus, we are no different from “the crowds” (verses 12 and 17). The crowds “went out to meet Him” because of “His miraculous signs” (verse 18). Of course, the Pharisees are jealous about this widespread attention and complain, “the whole world has gone after Him” (verse 19). That’s actually a good thing, as He came into the world for the whole world, and we could only pray and wish that the whole world would open its heart to Christ today. In verses 20-36, Jesus says that His “hour has come,” (verse 23), and his subsequent words about his forthcoming crucifixion were certified by “a voice from heaven” (verse 28), indicating God’s approval of all that Jesus said. In verse 36, we read that, after speaking these words, Jesus departed from the crowds and “hid Himself.” Too often and too easily, crowds become unruly mobs.

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