Scripture/sermon of the Day.  June 13, 2021

Scripture Reading:  1 Samuel 15:35-16:13

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah. 35 Samuel never saw Saul again before he died, but he grieved over Saul. However, the Lord regretted making Saul king over Israel.
Samuel anoints David
16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to grieve over Saul? I have rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have found[a] my next king among his sons.”
2 “How can I do that?” Samuel asked. “When Saul hears of it he’ll kill me!”
“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say, ‘I have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will make clear to you what you should do. You will anoint for me the person I point out to you.”
4 Samuel did what the Lord instructed. When he came to Bethlehem, the city elders came to meet him. They were shaking with fear. “Do you come in peace?” they asked.
5 “Yes,” Samuel answered. “I’ve come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Now make yourselves holy, then come with me to the sacrifice.” Samuel made Jesse and his sons holy and invited them to the sacrifice as well.
6 When they arrived, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, That must be the Lord’s anointed right in front.
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven’t selected him. God[b] doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.”
8 Next Jesse called for Abinadab, who presented himself to Samuel, but he said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen this one either.” 9 So Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen this one.” 10 Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord hasn’t picked any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Is that all of your boys?”
“There is still the youngest one,” Jesse answered, “but he’s out keeping the sheep.”
“Send for him,” Samuel told Jesse, “because we can’t proceed until he gets here.”[c]
12 So Jesse sent and brought him in. He was reddish brown, had beautiful eyes, and was good-looking. The Lord said, “That’s the one. Go anoint him.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him right there in front of his brothers. The Lord’s spirit came over David from that point forward.
Then Samuel left and went to Ramah.

Sermon/reflection:

I.      Sometimes I hear people  say: 
        “Don’t mix politics and religion!”
        But anyone who says that has never read the Bible.  Because although the Bible is a spiritual book — a book about God —it’s also a political book because it’s all about power.   God’s power and ours, and the struggle that happens when God’s will clashes with ours.

II.     When we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we are making a political statement.  We are saying God is first, above our country, our family, our race. 
        WHEN WE SAY AMERICA FIRST WE ARE SAYING AMERICA IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN GOD.  And when we make anything other than God first, the Bible calls that idolatry.

III.    Our recent presidential election was a referendum on idolatry.  For now, most Americans rejected the idolatry of an administration based on “America First.”  But barely.
        Even though the other side won, it’s troubling how many Americans chose to put America, rather than God, first in their lives.  BECAUSE —
*** When God is NOT first in our lives, we will have 267 mass shootings in just six months. 
*** When God is not first, we will separate children from their parents and then put them all in cages. 
*** When God is not first, we will make 30,573 false or misleading claims in our one term as president, and then after we lose the election, will keep lying. 
*** When God is not first, we can’t tell the difference between truth and falsehood — and eventually we don’t even care.
*** When God is not first, we will press our white knee on a black man’s neck for 9 MINUTES and 29 SECONDS while he pleads “I can’t breathe,” until he suffocates.

III.    A definition of “politics” is:
        “The activities associated with the governance of a country … ESPECIALLY THE … CONFLICT among people who have or who hope to achieve POWER.”
        POLITICS IS ABOUT POWER — AND SINCE ALL OF OUR POWER IS LOANED TO US FROM GOD, POLITICS IS ABOUT GOD.
        This is so important I’ll say it again:
        POLITICS IS ABOUT POWER
        ALL POWER COMES FROM GOD
        THEREFORE — POLITICS IS ABOUT GOD .
THE IDEA THAT WE SEPARATE POLITICS FROM RELIGION IS CRAZY.  IMPOSSIBLE — LIKE SEPARATING OUR HEART FROM OUR BODY.

IV.     The people of Israel wanted a king, but Samuel,  Israel’s Judge, said, “A PERSON CAN’T HANDLE THAT MUCH POWER.  It will corrupt them.  That power belongs to God and God advises don’t give anyone that much power.”
        The people insisted so God told Samuel — “Give them what they want — but warn them a king will take your daughters and sons.  He will build palaces with YOUR money and you will become his slaves.”
        But the people still said:  “Give us a king."

V.      Saul was Israel’s first king, Saul started out great but he lost his mind. He became paranoid, immoral and jealous.  So God told Samuel, “Remove him before he destroys Israel.”

VI.     In the reading today God told Samuel to pick another king from one of Jesse’s sons.  What’s interesting here is that even Samuel, God’s Judge, didn’t have the insight to choose the right person.  He thought the first of Jesse’s seven sons looked like the one.  God said:  “Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven’t selected him. God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.”  In other words — human judgment is flawed.
        Notice how the Bible takes a dim view of democracy.  The writers of our scriptures did not think that people are capable of picking their leaders.

VII.    The message of our reading today is that God has to be first in our lives.  And if anyone ever tells us to make something else first — even our country — even our family or our race — say no to that person.  Because if we follow Jesus, only God can be first in our lives.
        The Lord’s prayer ends:  “For God’s is the kingdom, THE POWER, and the glory, forever.” 
        Another name for God’s kingdom and power and glory is LOVE.  SAYING GOD FIRST IS THE SAME AS SAYING LOVE FIRST.  Jesus lived and died, and lives in us right now, through the power of GOD’S love.
        That’s the only politics we need to know.