Anointing: Character

Last week, Lisa provided an amazing message about forgiveness and especially the need for us to forgive ourselves.  If you missed it, you will definitely want to go online to watch it or listen to it.

This week, we’re continuing to learn a bit more about God’s anointing. 

This morning is Palm Sunday.  Today, we recall the day when Jesus fulfilled the prophecy from Zechariah as He enters Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey; signifying that He was a king riding in peace from the place of victory.  People lay down palm branches and their cloaks before Him shouting, “Hosanna!” (meaning, “Save us!”)  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

This significant event began the last week of Jesus’ earthly life in our flesh and the beginning of what is commonly referred to as passion week were Jesus ultimately suffers, dies, and resurrects again from the grave.  We’ll learn a bit more from Jesus, King of the Jews, and King of Kings next week.

This event is recorded in all four gospel books, but John and Mark record something else that happened just before His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus was at one of His favorite towns, Bethany, hanging out with some of His best friends, Mary, Martha, and the recently resurrected Lazarus. 

Mary pours out a pint of pure nard and begins washing His feet with her hair.  Judas objects because this perfume was worth nearly a year’s wages.  Jesus corrects him and states that wherever in the world the gospel is preached, that her sacrifice would be told in memory of her for she was anointing Him in preparation for His death.  There was tremendous significance to this anointing!

The anointing of God prepares and enables us to fulfill the purposes of God in our lives.  Though Jesus struggled with His upcoming death, the anointing of God enabled Him to bear the weight of the punishment of our sins and the curse that they bring.

This week, we’re going to learn from the real-life example of two of God’s anointed kings; Saul and David.

Saul and David are great examples for us of how to live life under the anointing of God.  They contrast the blessing of remaining under it and the tragedy of stepping out from under it.

I believe that it was intentional that where King Jesus’ Palm Sunday prophetic fulfillment begins (being anointed and going to retrieve a donkey), is also where Saul’s story began; seeking after his father’s lost donkeys and being anointed as king.

1 Samuel 9:1-6 (NLT)

1 There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.

3 One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for the donkeys.” 4 So Saul took one of the servants and traveled through the hill country of Ephraim, the land of Shalishah, the Shaalim area, and the entire land of Benjamin, but they couldn’t find the donkeys anywhere.

5 Finally, they entered the region of Zuph, and Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go home. By now my father will be more worried about us than about the donkeys!”

Saul found himself in an unexpected place of frustration and loss.  Maybe you can relate to how he was feeling this morning?  However, God had a purpose behind these circumstances.  If you’re feeling that way right now, try turning to God!

6 But the servant said, “I’ve just thought of something! There is a man of God who lives here in this town. He is held in high honor by all the people because everything he says comes true. Let’s go find him. Perhaps he can tell us which way to go.”

Saul and his servant found Samuel who informed them that the donkeys had been found, but kept Saul behind to share a message from God with him.

1 Samuel 10:1-16

1 Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.

We learned last week about Saul’s encounter with the anointing of the band of prophets.  Saul’s anointing gave him a new heart and transformed him into a different person.  The Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul!

13 When Saul had finished prophesying, he went up to the place of worship. 14 “Where have you been?” Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant.

“We were looking for the donkeys,” Saul replied, “but we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel to ask him where they were.”

15 “Oh? And what did he say?” his uncle asked.

16 “He told us that the donkeys had already been found,” Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom.

Saul had all of the visible attributes and earthly riches that people look for in a king.  He then received the anointing of God physically and spiritually through the presence of the Holy Spirit and even moved in the gifts of the Spirit. 

However, Saul had some weaknesses and flaws in his character that remained even after experiencing the life transformation of the Holy Spirit.  Since Saul refused to mature and to grow in these areas, it sadly lead to the departure of the Holy Spirit from his life along with God’s anointing…

Saul never fully surrendered his life to the Lord, but kept trying to please both God and man.  He followed God’s lead, but only in part.  Whenever something seemed more pleasing to his own flesh or the people around him, Saul would reject what God clearly instructed him to do and did what he thought was best.  He was always able to justify and excuse away these decisions as well.

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Saul chose to only share part of what God spoke and did during his time with Samuel with his uncle.  He omitted some of what happened; he lied.  Sadly, he left out the best news of his life, too! 

For some reason, he hid the fact that he had been anointed by God, called by God as king, had his life transformed by the Spirit, and prophesied with a band of prophets.  He almost seemed embarrassed by the things of God even at a place of worship…  This was just one indicator of the character issues that Saul refused to change in his life.

1 Samuel 15 (NLT)

1 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation – men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

Saul and his army went out and did only part of what God sent him to.

10 Then the Lord said to Samuel, 11 “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night.

12 Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”

14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!”

… He then reminded Saul that he didn’t fully carry out God’s mission and Saul argued with him about it…

22 …Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:

    your burnt offerings and sacrifices

    or your obedience to his voice?

Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,

    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.

23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,

    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.

So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,

    he has rejected you as king.”

35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.

However, God’s kingdom is unstoppable and God’s plans and purposes will always be fulfilled.  If we remain stubborn and unwilling to change and grow and mature, then God will rise up another.  Saul was rejected and David was chosen.  Although the kingly anointing of God that they received was the same, their stories end very differently!

1 Samuel 16:6-23 (NLT)

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

… recall Samuel’s experience with finding and anointing Saul.  Apparently Samuel needed to learn a thing or two as well!…

6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

… After rejecting all of the rest of David’s brother’s, Jesse finally called David in from tending the sheep…

12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Although David had been anointed as the next king of God’s people and Saul had been rejected, there was a long and slow transition process that took place.  David carried the anointing of God that had been removed from Saul and yet David served King Saul.

It’s a very long story, but Saul grew very jealous of David and the anointing that he carried so well which Saul had lost that he tried to kill him over and over again.  This prolonged season was a time of testing for David where his character grew and matured so that he was able to become the man that God needed to lead his people. 

God was not looking for a tyrant to lord over and rule His people, He was looking for a shepherd to love and serve and to guide His people.  He was looking for a humble person who would follow His lead willingly and obediently in trust and faith even through suffering and frustration.

Man looked at outward appearances for their king, but God looked inwardly for His king.  David was far from a perfect man, far from a sinless man, but he had a heart that truly hungered and thirsted for God.  Paul wrote this brief history lesson reminding God’s people about this transition:

Acts 13:20-23

…God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.

This morning, God desires not only to pour out His anointing on us, not only to equip and empower us with His spiritual gifts; He wants to grow and mature our character.  He wants us to be like David and to remain under His anointing.  He wants the fruits of the Spirit to be as evident and powerful as the gifts and anointing of the Spirit.  He wants us to truly be His people from the inside out.

On that first “Palm Sunday”, the people threw down their palm branches before Jesus to honor Him as king shouting, “Hosanna!”  Most of those people were like Saul.  It was all about outward appearances and following the crowd; the will of the people.  That same crowd just days later was shouting, “Crucify!”

Will we choose to be less like Saul, less like the crowd, and more like David?  Are we willing to lay down not only our palm branches before Jesus, but our entire lives; all that we are?

Will we allow God to grow and mature our character so that we might not only receive the anointing of God, but to live life under it and to carry it with us; to steward the anointing of God well as David did?  This morning, let’s pray and commit together to do just this!