TODAY’S READING: 1 SAMUEL 13-14
Grace is God’s answer to man’s questions. Always
In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Later, in Matthew 21:22, Jesus says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Each one of us asks for all sorts of things from God. Jesus says that if we have faith then we will have whatever we ask in prayer.
But, do we even know what we are asking for? Do we event know what we want? Do we even know what we should we should pray for?
Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
We are weak. Therefore, we do not know what we really should ask for in prayer. But, the Holy Spirit spirit helps us by interceding for us groanings too deep for words. So, we can ask whatever and the Holy Spirit interprets what we are asking.
How this work?
Romans 8:27 says, “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
God is the one who searches hearts. He knows what the mind of the Spirit is. God knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit prays for us in groanings too deep for words that are according to the will of God.
Therefore, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
So, we ask for whatever we want, but the Holy Spirit helps the weakness of what we ask for. He prays with groanings too deep for words that the Father understands because the Holy Spirit’s groanings are according to the will of God. Therefore, God is able to take whatever we ask and work it together for our good.
But, what is our good? What is God working things together toward?
Romans 8:29-30 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
The good that God is working for you is to be conformed to image of Jesus.
How does God do this?
Therefore, whatever we ask the Spirit interprets into a prayer for grace so that God can work everything together that we might be conformed to the image of Jesus, the firstborn among many brothers. For, what we have always longed for is to be a child of God.
Whatever we ask, the Holy Spirit knows that what we are really asking for is to be a child of God. We became a child of God through grace. So, whatever we ask, the Holy Spirit turns it into a prayer for grace.
This is why Jesus came.
John 1:14, 167-17 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
What is the end of God working all things together for good for us?
That we would be conformed to the image of Jesus – glorification.
John writes that the disciples saw the glory of Jesus and it was full of grace. He says they received from his fullness, grace upon grace. Grace came through Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-9 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loves us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Jesus said whatever we ask in prayer we would receive if we have faith. Whatever we ask in prayer the Holy Spirit turns into a plea for grace if we have faith. It is by grace through faith that we are saved. This is not of our own doing, but it is the gift of God. The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. God has given such a gift to us that whatever we ask will be changed into a prayer of grace. For it is grace that we need to become whatever our hearts truly desire, a child of God. Even if we are weak and don’t truly know what we should ask for.
WE ASK FOR WHATEVER
In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how Israel asked for a king of men like all the other nations had. God told Israel that a king of men like the other nations had would do nothing but take from them. When Israel chose a king of men, they got Saul.
Who was Saul?
According to 1 Samuel 14:51, “Kish was the father of Saul.”
Kish means snaring or bird catcher.
Saul means asked for.
Idols and false gods are described as snares for Israel throughout the Old Testament.
Speaking of the inhabitants of the promised land:
- Exodus 23:33 says, “For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
- Exodus 34:12 says, “Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst.”
- Deuteronomy 7:16 says, “Neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.”
- Judges 2:3 says, “And their gods shall be a snare to you.”
Snares are linked with bird catchers in scripture. Speaking of the man who commits adultery, which is linked with idolatry, Proverbs 7:23 says he is “as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.”
And, Ecclesiastes 9:12 says, “For man does know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.”
Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare.” And, Proverbs 18:7 says, “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”
Kish, the snaring, the bird catcher, fathered Saul, the king Israel asked for.
Out of fear of the nations around them, Israel laid a snare for itself. Their foolish request was their ruin and a snare to their soul.
But, it is no different for us. We seek after the things of this world. Whether material things or just the wisdom of this world, we foolishly ask for them and they become snares to our soul. So too, we ask for help from kings, politicians, and governments, rejecting God as our king, not knowing that this foolish request will be a snare to us and cost us our life.
BUT, GOD ANSWERS WITH GRACE
Saul represents the king of men, the idols of this world, the false gods of this world, the mammon, that we ask for. But, in reply to whatever we ask, God answers with grace.
According to 1 Samuel 14:50, “And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz.”
Ahimaaz means brother of anger or my brother is wrath. Brother is the name Ahimaaz could also be kindred.
Saul’s wife, Ahinoam, was the daughter of the kindred of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Ahinoam was a child of wrath and so are all of us by following the thinking and the idols of this world. Although, I quoted Ephesians 2:4-9 above, which shows that by grace through faith we go from children of wrath to being made alive together with Christ. Ahinoam was a child of wrath. But, Ahinoam means my brother is delight, brother of grace, or kindred to sweetness. By grace, we become one of Christ’s many brothers. We are a kindred to sweetness.
Saul and Ahinoam had five children. According to the 1 Samuel 14:49, “Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchi-shua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger Michal.”
Saul, what we asked for, knows Ahinoam, the kindred to sweetness, and produces five children. Five is the number of grace throughout the Bible. But, it’s interesting that they have three sons and two daughters.
Note that for the three sons we are not specifically told their birth order. We are just give their names.
Jonathan means the Lord gave or the Lord giving.
Ishvi means man of Yahweh or equal.
Malchi-shua means the king is salvation or the king of help.
We are not given the birth order of these three sons because together the three sons represent the trinity. String the meaning of the three names together and we have the Father gave Jesus, a man of Yahweh, his equal, and the Holy Spirit, the king of help.
But, we are given the birth order of the two daughters.
Merab means multiplication or increase.
One meaning of Michal is a little stream of water.
Throughout the Bible, God and Jesus are pictured as the husband, the bridegroom, of the man. But, God’s people are pictured as the wife, the bride, or the woman. Therefore, we could see Merab, the firstborn daughter, as Israel who multiplied or increased. And, we could see Michal, the younger, as the church who is continually flowing with the stream of the Holy Spirit.
According to 1 Samuel 14:50-51, the commander of Saul’s army was Abner the son of Ner the son of Abiel.
Abner means the father is a lamp of the father of light.
Ner means lamp.
Abiel means father of strength or God is father.
By grace, our the weapons of our warfare are spiritual not carnal. Therefore the commander of our army is God the Father of Jesus, the lamp, who gives rise to the light of the Holy Spirit shining in and through us.
GRACE IS ALWAYS GOD’S ANSWER
Israel asked for a king and got Saul, a king like all the other nations had. But, God answered with five children. Whatever we ask of God he turns the answer into grace.
Paul had a thorn in his flesh. I believe the Holy Spirit intentionally did not have Paul reveal what the thorn in the flesh was. Because what the thorn was did not matter. Whatever Paul was asking for relief from was irrelevant. What mattered was the answer God gave. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul tells us the answer he got from Jesus, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But, he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”
Whatever we ask in prayer and believe to have in faith, the answer that God gives is, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
God always gives grace for everything we do. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:9, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every work.”
All grace. All sufficiency. All things. All times. Every good work.
Seek. Ask. Knock. Whatever we ask in prayer and believe by faith Jesus will answer.
Whatever we ask, God’s answer will always be grace.