"How long will you mourn for Saul…Fill your horn with oil and be on your way…"

1 Sam 16:1

Many are currently 'networking' the old instead of 'anointing' the new.

Let me explain. Because of his unbroken inner life the kingdom had just been taken from Saul and promised to one better than he – to David (1 Sam 15:28). His days on the throne were now numbered.

But Samuel mourns for Saul, unable to make the transition to the new order. Although he was the prophetic vessel announcing the judgement on the old he faltered at anointing the new.

Why was this? Because even in the prophet's eyes Saul was an impressive king. He was "an impressive young man without equal…a head taller than any of the others" (1 Sam 9:2; 10:23).

Human reasoning

It would appear that the strength of the natural man is such that even the prophet was influenced by human reasoning. Remember, Israel had cried out for a king so as to be like all the other nations (see 1 Sam 8:5). Surely, Saul was the man, despite the failings of his inner life. He was "head and shoulders" above his peers. How could God choose somebody less impressive?

This natural reasoning so influenced Samuel that when he did finally go to anoint the new king he was immediately attracted to David's older brothers. The Scripture records that,

"Samuel saw Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord.' But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:6-7).

And so, man in his estimation of spiritual things is governed by his seeing and his thinking. Samuel 'saw' Eliab and he 'thought'. Except for the Spirit our thinking is fed by our five senses, and therefore, by appearances. Surely, Samuel thought, if Saul is no longer 'the man' this impressive young dude is. But apparently not, because "the Lord does not look at the things man looks at". Man looks at the visible, the outwardly impressive – he measures by success, popularity, and position. But the Lord looks at the invisible, at the hidden condition of the heart. He sees through the outward pretence of human things – of prestige and position, into the inner man. On losing the kingdom this inner condition in Saul is exposed. Rather than breaking he cries out to Samuel, "please honour me before the elders…and before Israel" (1 Sam 15:30). He was more interested in his dignity than his deliverance. Such is the case with the old order.

Changing mindsets

Now the difficulty the prophetic person faces, as with Samuel, in making the transition from the old order to the new is a change of mindsets. Apparently it is possible to pronounce God's judgements on the old and even proceed to anoint the new but still be governed by the old. By old mindsets that judge after the flesh rather than after the Spirit. By dependence on Saul – a human king who is distinguished by superior strength and stature.

Surely, this is the current situation in the church. Like ancient Israel we have cried out, "Give us a king like all the other nations". And we have become like the world, judging the things of God after the flesh, and therefore, depending on human programs over God's presence, on activity over adoration, on man's structures over God's Spirit.

But the temptation the Samuels, the transitional prophets and reformers, face is operating out of the same spirit even as they preside over the transition.

Wow – how subtle is the deception of our own hearts. As Jeremiah, complained, "Who can know it?" (Jer 17:9).

'Networking' the old

And so, we have many 'networking' the old rather then 'anointing' the new. Now many of my 'networking' friends are not going to like this. But even those of us who are hungering for community transformation and are desperately desirous of moving into a new order of things, and even those who are called to prophetically preside over this transition are often only 'networking' the old – perpetuating Saul's reign. How can this be?

Before I answer, please don't misunderstand me – I believe in networking – in unity, and community transformation. I am involved in all of these. But our 'networking' of pastors, of community transformation and even of the prophetic will not do it. Of course we need to be communicating and connecting with one another, that is a given, but this in itself will not do it.

Because the Saul-system is a spirit, or a mindset, before it is a structure we can actually network a new structure but still be of the old spirit. We can even network a 'new apostolic movement' but still miss the point.

Or conversely, we can network old structures in an old spirit. Many citywide pastors' networks in reality are merely a networking of the old – a networking of the existing order. At the end of the day the prevailing success, growth, and consumer demands of the Western church prevail demanding the loyalty of pastors. They are controlled by the expectations and demands of the status quo. And central to this is their financial security. While these new networks are undoubtedly being raised up by God and are integral to the transition to the biblical paradigm of the city church they will stall if the root issues are not confronted. All our networking will be reduced to merely rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship.

It is therefore time to fully comprehend the radical, in fact, the revolutionary departure of the new order from the old.

The 'Saul spirit'

Integral to this though is the revelation of the Saul spirit. This is where even Samuel momentarily faltered. Seduced by the impressiveness of Saul, by appearances, he grieved over the passing of the old and could not fully identify with the new. It is easier to work with the old, with that which in the eyes of men is esteemed and respectable, with the successful and powerful. To anoint a David, young and unknown, was too radical a departure. Not even considered by his father David, however, had been seen by God.

And so, there is a point where the Samuels must align themselves with the choice of God. When they must fill their horn with oil and anoint the new. When in heart and will they make their break from the security of Saul – when they have no choice but to go with God. God's choice will never be popular. He inevitably chooses the foolish things to confound the wise, and the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are.

The emerging church & the new Davidic order

This is the hour for the emerging church – for men and women after the heart of David – for brokenness of heart, for 24/7 intercessory worship, and above all else, for the pursuit of God's presence over our programs.

As with Samuel the time has come to shift gears. To align ourselves with the new Davidic order – to anoint those who have a heart for the presence and who will play only to an audience of one. To judge only after the Spirit and go with the move of God.

It is time to fill our horn with oil and be on our way.