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A few weeks ago I sat and began to think through Tim Keller’s excellent advice from his book entitled, Prayer,. Keller, suggests four to five “steps” that one can take in his approach to reading the Bible prayerfully and meditatively 1) Pray and ask for God’s help at the start of your time 2) Read 3) Observe what’s there in the passage taking notes as you go 4) Find one verse in the course of your reading that’s meaningful to you and a curious 5th step: Always be ready to stop for the moment when—as Keller relates he learned from none other than Martin Luther himself—the Holy Spirit “begins to preach in your heart”. 

As I sat reflecting on these things I opened my Bible to 1 Samuel 15 and began to read about Saul and God’s instructions to completely destroy the Amalekites. Just as I settled in and begin to jot down a few observations, Ginny Dyson knocked at the door and excitedly shared something with me from a recent study. She said effectively (as best I can remember), “I read this week that Jesus sang a hymn on the way to Gethsemane, what I wonder is - would one of these have been ‘this is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118).’” She then went on to explain that because it was sunset, given Jewish reckoning of a day as sunset to sunset, when Jesus sang these words on His way to Gethsemane with His disciples it actually was the day of crucifixion! 

I went back to my desk and thought about the import of what she had just shared with me. I returned to 1 Samuel 15 still looking for “one verse” listening for the sermon of the Spirit in my heart. And then all of sudden I came across these words in 1 Samuel 15:9 “They were not willing...” And it was there at the precise moment that I began to hear the Spirit’s sermon: Saul, and those with him, were not willing to obey the command to slaughter everything, but Jesus was willing, praying in the garden “...not my will, but Yours.” Saul, Israel’s first king, was not willing to obey in everything—but Jesus, Israel’s true King and the King of the whole earth, obeyed in everything, even unto death, and gave Himself as the lamb to be slaughtered so that the ancient foe of death might be rooted out and destroyed once and for all. He gave Himself to be slaughtered and killed so that we might be brought to God. Saul “was not willing to slaughter them...” but thank God that Jesus declared even on the day of His death “this is the day that the Lord has made” and was willing to obey perfectly all that the Father asked of Him.

Posted by Craig Lester with