Psalm 110 – We Need A… 

The Psalmist sees something. He sees someone. Someone he knows his audience needs. Not just a swashbuckling hero, not a muscle bound strongman. 

It requires a ruler who will exercise righteousness and justice. It requires a priest to meditate the peace. It requires a judge to dispel the wickedness and apply the cause for the marginalised. 

The Psalmist sees him. He celebrates the Father for him.

Do you see him? 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 21 – God Save The King

This Psalm is an interesting praise for what God is doing for the King.

Some may want to appropriate this for any leader. The key difference is, though, that this praise is about how God protects and saves the King because the King is in a right relationship with God. That way there’s a clear flow going on between the praise to God for the King. The King is undoubtedly the beneficiary but this is all because of the connection with God – it’s always the God centre going on.

That makes this Psalm all the more intriguing.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 2nd Epic 18 – The Return of Joab’s Revenge

Charismatic though he was in gaining the support of the people of Israel, Absalom made a big mistake making an enemy of Joab.

Joab’s disregard for the clear instructions of King David, showed again just how driven he was to put an end to the life of Absalom. What leads a man to behave in such a way? The extent that Joab went to in getting Absalom back from his exile and then the way he had to get David to bring his son back to his court had already stretched Joab. Now, to see that all of that was just a part of a larger plan to oust the king, well that was it. Joab would not exercise the same care for Absalom as his father.

Such clear insubordination, though, should strike a note of concern for observers. Who are we loyal to – our King, or our hurt? What will we follow – our King or our betrayal? To Whom shall we pledge our allegiance – our King or our emotional upheaval?

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 14 – In Disarray

One reading of the 14th chapter of 1 Samuel is a king in disarray.

His son goes off with his armour-bearer without anyone noticing and duly starts the routing of the enemy. Meanwhile Saul afflicts his already beleaguered troops with a charge that they are not to eat anything until he gets revenge on the enemy.

To put the cat among the pigeons, Jonathan’s raid raises such a tumult that it even disrupts Saul’s priestly consultation. No need to check if this is of God when it’s obviously of God.

Jonathan breaks the King’s edict by eating some honey and pointing out how much better it would be if the men were allowed to eat and be refreshed for the experience. In so doing implicitly undermining the rule of his father.

After the victory there’s the desperately sad scenes of soldiers diving into the plunder even to the point of butchering and eating meat with the blood in it. Soldiers going wild with the plunder, a scene of distress to some in the army aware of God’s standards in this regard.

As Saul looks to rally his troops for the next battle and seeks divine consultation, he finds no response and twigs that something must be wrong. Such is his desire to resolve the matter, he even says that whoever broke his edict would die. So when the indicators point to his son, he’s ready to carry out his plan, but his own men step in to rescue the man who had done more to bring victory than the king.

A king twice undermined, with men wildly eating and slow on the uptake of where God is doing His work. All in the light of having disobeyed God. All in disarray. Yet towards the end of the chapter the army move on and Saul continues his work of battle. Gathering mighty men as he goes along, Saul carries on with the fighting. Though the worst was yet to come.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 12 – Samuel’s Warning

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.” (1 Samuel 12:24‭-‬25 NIV)

It must have been a very emotional occasion.

Samuel wasn’t dying. One of the reasons for this assembly was out of how the people had rejected the succession planning he had previously put into operation where his sons were ruling. He put the succession plan in place because he knew his time had come to an end where that responsibility was concerned. It was one thing to reject his plan, but there own plan proved to be something far worse than Samuel had ever considered. Be that as it was, however, this assembly was for his farewell speech. It’s a virtual retirement speech of the time.

Getting over the personal essentials first, Samuel uses that opportunity to launch a withering attack on the tendency of the people of Israel to neglect the God who continues to deliver them. Whether after Egypt or at that point in their history, Israel was in a pattern of wandering away from God, getting in trouble and calling out to God to rescue them. This particular decision to veer away from God in asking for a king like their neighbours was something even the people admitted was an evil act. Samuel does not hold back in letting the people know the error of their ways.

Yet in as much as the tone is severe and critical of the wayward nature of God’s people, there is in it and underlying it, a great longing and desire for the people to return to God. There is a plea even in giving them a king to not forget the true King, the real sovereign of the earth. The plea is there, the call to faithfulness resonates throughout this speech. Faithfulness to a loving and faithful God who still takes pleasure in the people He has called. However wayward they have been, He still desires for them to return and stay in faithful relationship with Him.

In his last major recorded speech before the king is confirmed and he decreases, Samuel urges God’s people to not forget God who has not forgotten them. Yet in the plea for faithfulness, there is also the reality check of the consequences of choices made.

This kind of summary speech is not the first of its kind in Israel’s history and sadly it wouldn’t be the last. Reading it today, it still acts as that plea and that reality check. It’s well worth heeding Samuel’s warning.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 11 – Saul to the Rescue

In many ways, for King Saul, it was the best of times.

Newly acknowledged as King over Israel, he faced his first crisis and this would be crucial in deciding what kind of king he would be. His people under siege to the Ammonite under a threat of great humiliation. Saul’s response to the siege in contrast to those around him was to get angry. It was no time for crying and mourning, it was time to act.

This episode is one in which Saul’s credentials as king were on display for the people to see. He could gather the troops, he could reassure those under siege that he was on the job, he could strategically place for maximum impact, he could then go onto produce a resounding victory against the enemy to the acclaim of his people.

Not just that, but at the height of the victory as his detractors were about to be summarily disposed, he could be very magnanimous. He could see that the victory wasn’t about his reputation, it was about the integrity and safety of his people. That’s reason to rejoice, not to get vindictive.

These remarkable characteristics of Saul would have given his people hope that indeed God had chosen a great man to be their king.

In many ways, for King Saul, it was the best of times.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 10 – The Appointment of Saul

Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!” (1 Samuel 10:24 NIV)

Chapters 9-11 form a neat trilogy of the rise of the king. Chapter 10 is the truly transformative stage of the process.

It’s one thing to be identified by God, it’s another to acknowledge that. When Saul and his servant went looking for his Dad’s donkeys he could never have guessed what was in store for him. His encounter with Samuel was life-changing to the fullest meaning of the term.

Following the outline of this episode is fascinating. Samuel taking Saul aside in private anoints him to be king. Such a monumental occasion taking place so discreetly is remarkable. What’s also intriguing is that this is a clear designation of what God expects from Saul – it’s his divine assignment.

Having commissioned him, Samuel then describes future events with such clarity and foresight it’s not as though he’s describing something that will happen, it’s as though it has already happened. Those activities in their specification are an unusual path to kingship – but each step on the journey verifies the commission he receives, especially the part where he is found in the company of the prophets.

Samuel saying that is one thing, but there is something intriguing mentioned when Saul leaves that remains so pivotal to the rise of the king. God changed Saul’s heart. That’s not doing something against Saul’s will, that’s persuading Saul to be in the place to see what had been spoken fulfilled. It’s not just the ears that have heard, it’s the heart that’s prepared. For whatever God commissions a man to do, He prepares the heart of the man for it.

What’s humorous about this, however, is how tight-lipped Saul remains on the matter. By the way things transpire, Saul doesn’t tell anyone about what Samuel said and did. That is to say the brand new king of Israel, now the most powerful man in the land kept it quiet even from his own relatives. Even to the point that when it came to time to present the new king, God had to tell the people where he was hiding! Despite the powerful signs and clear confirmation, Saul was not rushing for the spotlight. In as much as some can seek to avoid it, when God has commissioned you there will be no hiding place.

So at last, the people have what they asked for – here is there king. As the verse quoted above states, God has made an outstanding candidate His selection – something that inspires others to join him.

The episode in this chapter ends on a very interesting note. Just because Samuel has said this is the king, not everyone is pleased with the appointment. The level of discontent and dissent by some is audible. How will the king respond? It appears he’s not saying anything on the matter … for now …

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden