1 Samuel 9:17
"When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD told him, "Here is the man of whom I spoke to you!  He it is who shall restrain my people."  

Most translations render the word restrain as rule, reign, govern, or have authority over.  But the Hebrew word used here is primarily defined as to enclose, hold back, restrain, confine, and even enslave.  A regular refrain in Judges was "There was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes," therefore, restraining seems to be an appropriate word.  Saul, as king, will have the authority to force them to function as a nation, not a group of individuals.

Weren't you surprised the first king of Israel came from the tribe of Benjamin?  Saul was correct when he said Benjamin was the least of the tribes of Israel.  After all, in the recent past, the entire tribe was comprised of only 600 men.

In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God discussed the day when Israel would want a king like other nations.  He even gave instructions about how the king was to rule.  It does not seem Israel consulted God about choosing a king, but Samuel indicates Saul would please the nation.  In 1 Samuel 9:20 (NIV) Samuel says this about Saul: "To whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father's family."  Saul had the qualities Israel wanted in a king.  He looked like a king.  He was tall, young, handsome and from a wealthy family.  Appearance over substance seems to be what Israel craved because Saul's wisdom, character, accomplishments or piety are not discussed.  A charismatic outward demeanor is generally what the world appears to want in a leader--but not God.  God soon gives Israel a king after His own heart.

Sovereign Providential King, forgive us for wanting style over substance.  Please raise up those in authority, who will restrain a nation where everyone seems to do what is right in their own eyes.  May these people have a heart after Your heart.  Please teach Your children to live restrained under the authority of the King of Kings.  May we live as a shining example of the true King.

Romans 7:22-23
"I love God's law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.  This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me." (NLT)

Paul spent most of Romans 6 describing how those who are in Christ are dead to sin. No longer are they enslaved to sin because it has no power over them since they are under grace, not the law.  So, the question that arises is, how can Paul now write Romans 7:22-23?

I have found when describing sin; it is helpful to understand the "Four P's - the Penalty, Power, Pollution and Presence" of sin.

The penalty for sin is death, Romans 5:12, "Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all sinned."   Romans 6:2e bluntly states, "The wages of sin is death."  Romans 5:15-18 explains how Jesus' one act of righteousness led to justification and life for those of faith.

Romans 6:5-7 (NLT) describes how Jesus' one act of righteousness changes those of faith.  Sin lost its power when they were crucified with Christ.  Jesus delivered us from the penalty and the power of sin when He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25).

Romans 7 deals with the pollution of sin.   Paul says the Law is perfect, but because of indwelling sin, even the Law causes temptation.  Have you ever watched how people respond when they see a "WET PAINT DO NOT TOUCH" sign?  How many touch the paint just as proof for themselves?  That is a simple example of what Paul is describing.

How long did you do what seemed right in your own eyes?  Before being delivered from both the penalty and power of sin, we learned how to live sinful lives and justify it to ourselves for many years.  After a lengthy description in Ephesians 4 of how we are to "put off" our old nature, Paul goes on to say in 5:1 that we are to be imitators of God.  Though we were formerly sinful and self-justifying, we are now to "put on" the character of Christ Jesus.  We will struggle with the pollution of sin in our lives until we meet Jesus face to face through our physical death or His return, whichever comes first.  However, while we wait, we are to be diligent in pursuing conformity to Him.

The last P, the presence of sin, is removed on the day we see Jesus.
My prayer is "Come, Lord Jesus!"  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen