Have you ever wondered about God’s purpose for your life? Believe it or not, the answer is not as confusing as some make it out to be. In fact, God’s purposes for us are really quite simple. This study will take a good look at some of the inner qualities God looks for in his people. Dive in to learn more!
The Bible is full of interesting characters. Two of those figures are Israel’s first two kings. Their names are Saul and David. But what makes their stories intriguing is more than what they did during their own lifetimes. In order to fully appreciate them, we first need to become familiar with the larger movement of Israel’s history leading up to their rule. Due to space constraints, however, more attention will be given to Saul’s life. Hold on tight for this whirlwind tour of some Old Testament history!
So here’s the scoop: You may already know that Israel spent about 400 years in Egyptian captivity. They ended up in Egypt because a young man named Joseph was sold by his brothers to a band of Midianite merchants. To make a long story short, God utilized Joseph’s special gifts to save the known world from starvation. It was during a seven-year famine that people from all over the Middle East traveled to Egypt to buy grain. Some of those people were Joseph’s long lost brothers. After a tearful reunion, Joseph was able to use his high political influence to acquire orders (so-to-speak) for his whole family to “PCS” to Egypt. But this blessing soon turned into a curse as the rapidly growing Israelite tribe went from minority status to a major potential political and military threat. That is why the Egyptian Pharaohs enslaved the Israelites and horribly mistreated them. God’s people cried out to God and he heard their agony. In his grace and mercy, God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from the oppressive hand of the Egyptians.
After Israel’s miraculous exodus from Egypt, they had to spend another 40 years wandering in the desert because they failed to believe God’s pledge to bring them into the Promised Land. At the end of that time, God appointed Joshua to lead an impressive military campaign against the pagans living in the land promised to the Israelites. Under his remarkable leadership, Israel claimed much—but not all—of the land promised them. Unfortunately for the Israelites, they failed to obey God, and eventually adopted the pagan lifestyles of their neighbors—practices which roused God’s anger. Thus, at the end of Joshua’s reign Israel enters into a 300 year period of being ruled by various judges who served as military leaders. During this time, Israel is marked by a cyclical pattern of moral and spiritual decay, punishment, repentance, periods of peace and stability, followed once again by spiritual downward spiral. It is not a pretty era by any stretch of the imagination.
Eventually, Israel cries out to God for her own king so it could be just like the other nations. This brazen demand was an outright rejection of God as their king. But God, in mercy, granted their request. And so it was that Saul was anointed Israel’s first king. He was the “people’s choice,” having all the external qualities of a good leader. But he lacked the inner character necessary for effective leadership. That is why God eventually rejected king Saul and anointed another to take his place; his name was David. This king was God’s choice, and David proved to be much more effective than his predecessor.
While Saul and David were both kings of Israel, the similarities end there. The two men are different in every other way, and thereby provide a nice contrast for a look at what God wants from us, or his purpose for our lives. Ultimately, what we do is less important than who we are. (You will find more on this issue under the topic of Identity.) You see, one of God’s dominant purposes for your life is that you grow to possess the inner qualities of Jesus Christ. This is the hallmark of any mature Christian. How and where we model Christ to the world is of secondary importance. At the end of this study, you will find a number of personality and spiritual gifts surveys that are helpful in discerning how God might want to use your unique design to accomplish his purposes. But they are at the end for a reason. Let us first focus on allowing God to form Christ in us.
The passage below captures the event that led to God’s rejection of the “people’s choice” King Saul. As you read, pay attention to exactly what God commands his servant to do. Then observe whether or not Saul follows through in obedience to God. Notice also how Saul responds when God’s priest, Samuel, confronts the king with his error. You may find that some of the terms are hard to pronounce—don’t worry about it. Skip over them and keep reading!
Scripture: 1 Samuel 15
- From the 1 Samuel 15 passage above, what did God command Saul to do? Did he follow through with the command? From what you can tell from Saul’s character, why was he not able to obey God fully?
- Whose honor was Saul most interested in promoting—God’s or his? Based on what you know from David’s life, whose honor was he most interested in promoting?
- How does Saul respond when Samuel confronts him? What does his response reveal about his inner character? Are there aspects of your character that do not represent Christ well? If so what needs to change, and are you willing to change?
- Has anyone ever confronted you for something wrong you have done? If so, how did you respond? Did you get defensive or did you receive their rebuke and apologize. How did the situation get resolved?
- Have you ever given thought to what God wants from you? If so, do you find it easy or difficult to discern God’s purpose for you? Why or why not?
- How has this brief look at Saul and David’s life and the verses referenced in the Supporting Passages helped to clarify what God wants from you?
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I understand that what you primarily want from me is that I be transformed into the image of your Son, Jesus Christ. I ask that you create within me a desire to change the aspects of my character that do not reflect you well. Help me, Father, to faithfully represent you wherever I go and in whatever I do.