1 Samuel 10:6-9 (English Standard Version)
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 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.”
9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.
King Saul is one of the most memorable characters in the Bible. Even as a youth Saul was the kind of guy you’d choose to be a leader. He was tall, handsome, and well-liked, and he was the son of a powerful Benjamite named Kish.
The first time we encounter Saul, he is searching for some of his father’s donkeys that had wandered off, and he is gone so long and so far on his search that he becomes concerned that his father will worry about him. (1 Samuel 9:3-14) As a last resort, Saul and his servant enter the city where the man of God, Samuel, is living and worshiping, and that is where Saul’s life is changed.
Here at the beginning of Saul’s story, we don’t see the enraged enemy of young David nor the proud king who ignores God’s instructions not to keep plunder from pagan enemies. What we see here in this first book of Samuel is a young man chosen by God to be the first king of His people, a man destined to unify the tribes and conquer the Promised Land of Canaan. This thoughtful young man Saul is to become King Saul of Israel, and God alone would be able to make the changes needed to turn him into someone who would do God’s work.
But today’s verses aren’t just about Saul’s conversion into a God-following King. They are about you and me and everyone who is ever called by God to believe.
19 “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,
20 “that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
21 “But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.
God desires to give us a living, beating heart for Him. That’s what He did for Saul, transforming the young Saul into a king worthy to lead Israel. The Lord will bless those who embrace their new hearts, those whose only God is the one, true, living Lord God. When we follow the signs God sends us, when we meet His Word at the intersection of our will and His, then we will be changed into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and whatever we do, God will be with us.
But the Lord will deal harshly with those who refuse the God-given heart and who return to their fleshly desires and abominations. When we depart from God’s will to follow our own desires, when our hands are led by our head instead of our God-given heart, then God will not be with us to strengthen us nor protect us.
That is what happened to Saul: he allowed his heart to return to its old form, following his own pride, and God withdrew His blessing and gave it to the shepherd David. And although David also had his problems, he kept his humility and his heart for God, and so David was able to come back to the Lord because he knew that God would forgive him.
So when the Lord calls us and offers to change our hearts, how will we respond? When He says, “Follow Me,” will we drop everything and KEEP following Him no matter what may happen? Will we put aside our pride, our earthly desires for wealth and power and success? Will we take up our cross daily to follow wherever His dusty road will take us? And when we fall now and then, will we wallow in our shame and self-pity, or will we turn our face to the Lord and seek His forgiveness?
After Saul left Samuel that day, he went among some prophets and started prophesying, too, just as Samuel had foretold. When Saul’s friends saw him prophesying, they were amazed at the change in him, and they even wondered if Saul was going to stay among the prophets. Saul’s friends recognized that this was a brand new Saul. Are we so transformed that our friends hardly recognize us?
Today, be transformed by God as He replaces your stony heart and turns you into another person. Let us all be so changed that people don’t recognize the new people we have become. Let’s not turn back to our old ways, our old pride and ambition, our old sin and self-righteousness. My prayer today is that we shall all be true to the calling God puts upon our hearts, allowing the Lord Jesus to reign in our lives, never turning back to our old ways but seeking only His will and His blessing in all that our hands find to do.
Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me, for seeking me even when I wasn’t seeking You. Today, Lord God, I pray that Your Spirit will transform many lives, that You will put living hearts in place of dead ones, willing hands in place of selfish ones, faithful love in place of doubt and fear and pride. Draw near to us all, O Lord, and renew our hearts each and every day, so that they beat only for You. Amen.