Old Testament reading: 1 Samuel 10-12
“I’ll just take my ball and go home.” Many of us are old enough to know that saying. In the days when kids didn’t have everything they wanted (and still played outside), the boy with the ball held sway over all the others. If he didn’t get his way, he could bring the game to an abrupt conclusion. 1 Samuel 10 marks the beginning of Saul’s reign as Israel’s first Divinely recognized king. While Saul is an intriguing character, I want to think about Samuel, one of God’s greatest servants. At Saul’s coronation in chapter 12, Samuel gave a farewell address of sorts. Though his tenure with Israel had been long, he was still able to acquit himself of any personal wrongdoing throughout the entire course of his leadership going all the way back to the days of his youth. Standing before the multitude of Israel, Samuel called on any man to come and level a charge of misconduct. None were brought and the people all gave witness to the same before God. Then, at the conclusion of his address, Samuel promised to continue his service to the people. What character! While many might “take their ball and go home,” Samuel recognized the people still needed his instruction and spiritual guidance. Moreover, he said it would be a sin against God were he to stop praying earnestly for the people! I love this man Samuel! In these respects, he deserves our admiration and emulation.
New Testament reading: Mark 1-2
Mark gives emphasis to the work of John as “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). Of particular interest is Mark’s repeated emphasis of Jesus’ power over unclean spirits and sickness, which continues in the chapters following. Mark’s audience was primarily Gentile, with perhaps an eye toward the Roman citizenry. Prior to the ascension and assumptions of the Caesars, Rome had been blessed with reasonably capable and good men to rule over them, men who generally cared about the welfare of the people and of the state. A powerful, yet beneficent leader would have appealed to those familiar with the Roman government as originally constituted. Mark presents Jesus in just this fashion – a powerful, beneficent king who readily identified with the lives and needs of the people.