July 5: Discernment, Knowledge, and Action
1 Samuel 10:1–11:15; James 2:14–18; Psalm 119:65–80
We often wonder whether God hears our prayers. Even when we acknowledge that God deals with each petition we send His way, we experience doubt because we don’t understand how He has handled our plea. Yet instead of asking “Is God hearing me?” we should be asking God to help us grow closer to Him and gain a better understanding of His ways. We should echo the words of the psalmist, “You have dealt well with your servant, O Yahweh, according to your word. Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe your commands” (Psa 119:65–66).
We often misunderstand the concepts of discernment and knowledge. Discernment allows us to know God’s will and perceive the decisions He would have us make. Knowledge helps us to understand God Himself, primarily His character. Both of these concepts are grounded in our relationship with God and others, both empower us to work for Him—and we are called to cultivate both qualities in our lives.
Unless we know God, we’re incapable of successfully doing His work. We must be willing to talk to God honestly about our relationships, as the psalmist does in Psalm 119:69–72. The psalmist acknowledges that he needs God’s help in all matters of his relationship with God and all matters of his relationship with others. He understands that he cannot even begin to know God without the power of God helping him.
We must be empowered for action, both in the intimacy of prayer and in the reality of relationships. And we must support what we believe with our works, as the letter of James call us to do: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:14–26).
Reflecting regularly on how God has worked with us and is working in us allows us to recognize that everything in our lives has a purpose. God often works in others through us, and that great calling requires us to have knowledge of Him and discernment about His workings in our world.
How are you discerning the great work of God in your life? How are you enhancing your knowledge of God?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Hath not the Lord anointed thee to be governor over his inheritance? When thou shalt depart from me this day, thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulcher in the border of Benjamin, even at Zelzah, and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek, are found, and lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son? Then shalt thou go forth from thence, and shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three lovers of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: And they will ask thee if all be well, and will give thee the two loaves of bread, which thou shalt receive of their hands. After that shalt thou come to the hill of God, where is the garrisons of the Philistines: and when thou art come thither to the city, thou shalt meet a company of Prophets coming down from the high place with a vial, and a timbrel, and a pipe, and an harp before them, and they shall prophesy. Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. Therefore when these signs shall come unto thee, do as occasion shall serve: for God is with thee. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal: and I also will come down unto thee to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace. Tarry for me seven days, till I come to thee, and show thee what thou shalt do. And when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all those tokens came to pass that same day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, the company of Prophets met him, and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. Therefore all the people that knew him before, when they saw that he prophesied among the Prophets, said each to other, What is come unto the son of Kish? is Saul also among the Prophets? And one of the same place answered, and said, But who is their father? Therefore it was a proverb, Is Saul also among the Prophets? And when he had made an ending of Prophesying, he came to the high place. And Saul’s uncle said unto him, and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were nowhere, we came to Samuel. And Saul’s uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you. Then Saul said to his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found: but concerning the kingdom whereof Samuel spake, told he him not. And Samuel assembled the people unto the Lod in Mizpah, And he said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have brought Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hands of all kingdoms that troubled yo. But ye have this day cast away your God, who only delivered you out of all your adversities and tribulations: and ye said unto him, No, but appoint a king over us. Now therefore stand ye before the Lord according to your tribes, and according to your thousands. And when Samuel had gathered together all the tribes of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. Afterward he assembled the tribe of Benjamin, according to their families, and the family of Matri was taken. So Saul the son of Kish was taken, and when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they asked the Lord again, if that man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff. And they ran, and brought him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from the shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye not him, whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? and all the people shouted and said, God save the King. Then Samuel told the people the duty of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and lid it up before the Lord, and Samuel sent all the people away every man to his house. Saul also went home to Gibeah, and there followed him a band of men, whose heart God had touched. But the wicked men said, How shall he save us? So they despised him, and brought him no presents: but he held his tongue. Then Nahash the Amorite came up, and besieged Jabesh Gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will be thy servants. And Nahash the Ammonite answered the, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and bring that shame upon all Israel. To whom the Elders of Jabesh said, Give us seven days respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then if no man deliver us, we will come out to thee. Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told these tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lift up their voices and wept. And behold, Saul came following the cattle out of the field, and Saul said, What aileth this people, that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh. Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul, when he heard those tidings, and he was exceeding angry, And took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul, and after Samuel, so shall his oxen be served. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand men, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. Then they said unto the messengers that came, So say unto the men of Jabesh Gilead, Tomorrow by then the Sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and showed it to the men of Jabesh, which were glad. Therefore the men of Jabesh said, Tomorrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that pleaseth you. And when the morrow was come, Saul put the people in three bands, and they came in upon the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and they that remained, were scattered, so that two of them were not left together. Then the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring those men that we may slay them. But Saul said, There shall no man die this day: for today the Lord hath saved Israel. Then said Samuel unto the people, Come, that we may go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there. So all the people went to Gilgal, and made Saul King there before the Lord in Gilgal: and there they offered peace offerings before the Lord: and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced exceedingly. 1 Samuel 10:1–11:15
- What availeth it my brethren, though a man saith, he hath faith, when he hath no works? can that faith save him? For if a brother or a sister be naked and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace: warm yourselves, and fill your bellies, notwithstanding ye give them not those things, which are needful to the body, what helpeth it? Even so the faith, if it have no works, is dead in itself. But some man might say, Thou hast the faith, and I have works: show me thy faith out of thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works . James 2:14–18
- I am companion of all them that fear thee, and keep thy precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. O Lord, thou hast dealt graciously with thy servant, according unto thy word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now I keep thy word. Thou art good and gracious: teach me thy statutes. The proud have imagined a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is fat as grease, but my delight is in thy Law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn thy statutes. The Law of thy mouth is better unto me, than thousands of gold and silver. Thine hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding therefore, that I may learn thy commandments. So they that fear thee, seeing me, shall rejoice, because I have trusted in thy word. I know, o Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou hast afflicted me justly. I pray thee that thy mercy may comfort me, according to thy promise unto thy servant. Let thy proud be ashamed: for they have dealt wickedly and falsely with me: but I meditate in thy precepts. Let such as fear thee turn unto me, and they that know thy testimonies. Let mine heart be upright in thy statutes, that I be not ashamed. Psalm 119:65–80