1 Samuel 9:22-10:8 The Three Inner Signs of Guidance and Assurance
1 Samuel 9:22-10:8
22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 And when they came down from the high place into the city, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street. 27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.” 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.
God divinely orchestrated circumstances and predestined the meeting between Samuel and Saul. Saul was then ushered into the fellowship of a group of men and thereafter he was anointed with oil for the king’s office. God gave Saul assurance of His endorsement by three external signs that gave him great confidence to do all that is required of him. In this episode, we understand the importance of mutual accountability and the work of the Spirit in granting believers three spiritual signs of assurance and guidance.
So Saul ate with Samuel that day – Saul having met Samuel was invited to dinner and given a place of honor among those present. He was also served the best part of the animal, which is the upper portion of the leg that is normally reserved for dignitaries. Most importantly, the purpose of this meal is to establish fellowship and accountability to a spiritual community. Saul, even as he is about to be anointed as king must hold himself accountable to a spiritual overseer, which is Samuel as well as to a group of men.
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him – Samuel pours, but it is the Lord who anoints. The pouring of the oil signifies Saul’s acceptance of the appointment for office to be set apart for the service of God and the people. However, this act of pouring and Saul’s acceptance of the appointment was done in the absence of the public and is thus considered a private affair between Saul and God. Therefore, in accepting the pouring of the oil, Saul was first made accountable to God for his acceptance of the king’s office. Thereafter, he will be appointed publicly to office and be held accountable to the people for all his actions.
Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you – Samuel provided Saul with three signs, the purpose of which is to demonstrate God’s direct involvement in Saul’s kingly appointment. By seeing these signs coming to pass, Saul may have confidence in God’s divine accompaniment and be bold in all that he does. Of these three signs, the first was a family matter concerning the donkeys that had been found. The second sign involved a gift from three men on the way to Bethel carrying sacrificial offerings. The gift of the two loaves of bread hints at the sacral character of Saul’s appointment as anointed king of Israel. The third sign differs from the first two in that it involved a personal transformation: be turned into another man, for he was able to prophesy like a prophet. This third sign signifies the explicit presence of the Spirit in enabling Saul to perform his duties as king.
- A community must be united around a common vision and possess a system of mutual accountability. Without a common vision and values system, each person will make decisions based on his personal convictions and benefit. Saul’s first meeting with Samuel included a community of leaders where they must develop a common vision under God and accountability to one another. Samuel deliberately arranged the meal to establish a fellowship among a core group of leaders before Saul’s appointment was made public. Hence, an effective organization, community or family must necessarily possess a common vision and the leader must not act alone but be held accountable to the key members of the community. Leadership begins with trust and accountability, without which there is no unity.
- In any area of work or ministry, the believer is first accountable to God, and then to the people for his service. Samuel poured oil on Saul as a sign of his acceptance of the king’s office through which Saul made himself accountable to God for this sacred appointment. An important point to note is the sequence of events in that Saul was anointed by oil before he was publicly crowned. This is to stress the spiritual foundation of Saul’s appointment and his accountability to God before he was brought before the people. Therefore, we must never take our service in church, or our responsibilities in our family and work lightly. We are held accountable to God, and He will judge us according to our diligence and faithfulness. Paul says,
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:23-25
- The Holy Spirit gives us assurance and guides us through three inner signs. In the Old Testament, God guides and affirms through external signs and circumstances. As God provided three external signs to affirm Saul of His endorsement, in the age of the Spirit, believer is guided and assured by three inner signs:
- By discernment through the solid food of the word. Those who read the bible from cover to cover, not selectively but every word of it shall develop the ability to discern the will of God. The tendency is to selectively read verses that evoke positive emotions without the hard work of bible study. They may be able to maintain their hope towards God. But they are not able to discern the will of God and walk in it and to prosper. Hence, those who drink only milk may have hope, but deprived of the wisdom that can prosper them. The author of Hebrews says,
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14.
- By an inner sense of divine blessedness. A person who walks consistently in the will of God will carry within him the Spirit of divine peace and blessedness. This Spirit of blessedness is different from the emotional euphoria that people experience momentarily during worship. But the sense of blessedness that comes from the Spirit is perpetual and consistent whatever the circumstance. Jesus says,
“On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:27
- By the Spirit of sonship. The Holy Spirit creates awareness within us that we are God’s children, thus emboldening us to face our problems in every endeavor. The Spirit fills us with a discernable measure of God-like capabilities: divine wisdom, authority, and endurance. Paul says,
But you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Romans 8:15-17
- Are you feeling the affirmation of the Spirit and His blessed assurance that all things will work well? Perhaps, you could find a mature believer who could help you encounter God and receive His Spirit.
- Hold yourself as accountable to God in your work, in the raising up of your children, and in your church ministry by asking the question: What kind of a parent does God want me to be to my children? What kind of worker does God want me to be in my company? What kind of believer does God want me to be to my church and Pastor?
- Do you have a group of believers whom you could trust? Someone whom you would grant them the permission to look into your life? Proverbs 11:14 say, “But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” It is dangerous for believers to walk alone, but in the presence of counselors, there is safety.
Dear Lord, I yield myself to your plans to do what you will instruct. Cause me to overcome my confusion and be more sensitive to your guidance. Lead me to a group of Christians whom I can be transparent with and be made accountable to. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.