March 21

1 Samuel 9-12, Psalm 80

When life is going along like the photos everyone posts on social media or their Christmas cards, life is easy. But oftentimes that is not reality. When things are not going our way what do we fall back on : our pride or God? When we vote in an election and the other candidate wins, do we root for him to do well or against him? When you felt you deserved the promotion at work and they pick someone else, do we wish that person well or hope for their failure? When you think your kid should be the quarterback of the football team and they pick another kid, do you want to see them throw interceptions or touchdowns? When the girl you thought would one day be your wife chooses another guy, do you seek their success or failure? The question really is when we feel slighted or jilted do we respond in prideful hurt and anger based on what we believe we deserve, or do we respond as a servant of God seeking the best for others and even praying for them?

From the moment the children desired a king instead of Samuel, you can tell his pride is hurt. We read in 1 Samuel 8:7, "And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them." Its understanding, God has faithfully led the people through his servant Samuel, and now that the people do not want Samuel's sons to lead them but desire a king, that Samuel's feelings were hurt. When Saul is being coronated at Gilgal in 1 Samuel 12, you can still see the hurt in Samuel. Notice Samuel's opening statements in 12:2-3, "And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and gray headed, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day. Here I am. Witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe...". After then recanting their nation's history and pointing to their folly in choosing a man over God, he concludes his public statement in 12:23, "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way." Though his pride was hurt, he chose to follow God and not the dictates of a wounded pride. When Jesus was on the cross in pain, being mocked we witness no anger or pride, but instead He said in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." In Acts 14:19-20, we read, "...they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city...". Paul did not act in prideful anger despite being stoned but lovingly went back in before those who stoned him and preached.

The reality of life is that we will all face disappointment and wounds to our pride. Oftentimes, if not careful, we can choose to lean on our own feelings and respond in anger and wishing another poorly. These are the times that we must lean on God and empty ourselves of pride. Samuel prayed for those who rejected him and his counsel. Jesus and Paul prayed for their accusers and attackers. These are the examples we should seek to follow when attacked and hurt. We read in 1 Peter 4:8, "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster