Ner was the father of Kish, Kish of Saul, Saul of Jonathan (1Chronicles 8:33). Saul, the first king of Israel, began well, and his faithfulness is revealed in the name he chose for his first son, Jonathan, "The Lord Gives." Saul looked to God as the giver of good. This is what you want in a king. Signs of Saul's decay show up, however, as the naming of sons continues, "Malchi-shua, Abinadab and Eshbaal." Baal, a borrowed god from foreign nations, was a constant disruption to Israel's devotion to the one true God. Saul named his son Eshbaal, "Man of Baal." Little wonder God spoke to his prophet Samuel, "I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me (1Samuel 15:11).
"And the son of Jonathan," the list continues, "was Merib-baal" (1Chronicles 8:34). Merib-baal, "One Who Contends with Baal," displays Jonathan's response to the idolatry of his father. It also displays his heart, which explains the close friendship he enjoyed with David, a man after God's heart. David would replace the failed king, Jonathan's father, Saul.
A divided kingdom, a divided family, springs from a divided heart. Saul's wandering devotion led his family and his kingdom into disarray. Joshua had warned Israel of this before the kings appeared, as they first entered God's promised land, "Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
My God, You are One, the Only God, there is no other, and You alone have my heart, undivided, fully devoted to You. Keep my heart pure and strong, so that my eyes will not follow temptation. Protect my household, that we may always keep You first.
Each day, may I rise up looking to You, remembering that the day before me is a gift from You, and I should delight in it. Offering myself to You each morning, the day before me will be a display of my devotion, and the world will see that You are my God, and that my God is good and full of grace.