Read: 1 Samuel 13
As a parent, my husband and I frequently tell our children to wait. Wait to cross the road. Wait, that food is hot. Wait – his fingers are in the door! Wait, homework comes first. Wait for that snack, dinner is almost ready. Wait…just wait, lots of waiting but very good reasoning behind each and every instance. A lot like the waiting God asks us to do.
Last week I mentioned the story of Ruth and her wait. This week I want to look at life of Saul, and the wait he was asked into.
Saul was a great man from a wealthy family, he was tall, handsome, had a great military, and was the first to be annointed by God as king over Israel. He had a lot going for him, but things didn’t stay that way, and as we read we find his true character, and in it disobedience, which led him into a mess.
We find in this lesson specifically that Saul had gathered an army and is preparing for battle. Samuel, a prophet of God, told Saul to do this, but before actually going into battle he is told to wait seven days for Samuel to join him. At that point, Samuel will prepare the offering and the army will be ready for battle. We read on and learn that seven days comes and Samuel doesn’t arrive. Saul grows impatient. He sees that his people are scattering and he wants to regain control. In refusal to wait any longer, he takes over and prepared the offering himself. Just as the offering was complete – Samuel arrived and asked Saul, ‘What have you done?’ Saul responded (in my own words) – ‘The people were scattered – you weren’t here yet, so, I did what I had to,’ and Samuel responded in words that I imagine to have the ability to cut a person straight to the bone.
‘Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.’
We read this and we think – How could Saul be so foolish? Why couldn’t he just wait? His kingdom would have been established over Israel forever…didn’t he know? Wasn’t that enough?
It is easy for us – disconnected from the time, as well as the situation to read this chapter and judge Saul for his behavior. It is easy to set ourselves on a pedestal declaring we would never do such a thing, only a fool would choose disobedience, we would wait…wouldn’t we?
No, no we actually wouldn’t. Reflection would actually identify for us that we aren’t really that different than Saul. Just as he, we don’t typically have a hard time following God’s plan at the beginning, but when things don’t go as we expect – and we too feel our people scatter, we step in and take control.
It happens in those moments when we are tired of being alone. We say, ‘Enough, I can’t take it anymore!’ – So, we settle – and our settle eventally leads to heartache.
We do it when our marriage is rough, crying out, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for, I’m done!’ We divorce, and our divorce leads us into pain and turmoil that we never would have imagined.
We are tempted when we experience a problem over, and over again. We grow tired of fighting, tired of working and we give in and move forward without hearing what the Lord would have us to do. In doing this, we find ourselves in the midst of a mess that had we waited we wouldn’t be in.
We are like Saul in all of these instances. We set a time limit to God’s plan, and if He doesn’t step in like we thought, we stand as Saul and say- ‘I’ll step in and do this myself!’ But as we see through his lesson, and have experienced on our own – the immediate action may feel good, as if progress is made, but on down the road, there is pain, and we eventually find that had we waited, things would have been a whole lot different, and a lot less painful. Saul’s lesson is a lesson that teaches us the danger of disobedience. God’s word is also filled with others that teach us the value of obedience, and the necessity of the wait.
Take for example the life of Moses, he had to wait 40 years in the dessert before God used him, but during his wait – God was working. Once a man of impatience, brash, and even a murder, yet God called him to a wait, and during that wait Moses became God fearing and obedient. He became a vessel that God used in the incredible Exodus of nearly two million people.
What about those Israelites during the Exodus? They had waited in bondage for 400 years. Then Moses came along and plague after plague after plague they wait for Pharoah to let them go, and finally he says to go, and they find themselves stuck between Pharoah’s army, and the Red Sea – waiting to know what God will do. I don’t know how long they waited, but I imagine those minutes, hours, whatever it be, felt eternal. – but God came through, and they crossed the Red Sea – on dry ground.
How about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus? Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus was sick. Jesus said this sickness would not bring death. They waited. Can you imagine how they felt when Jesus arrived and Lazarus had been dead four days? Can you imagine what they felt when they heard Jesus call Lazarus out of the tomb, and there he stood, alive? God was faithful to His word. Their wait was purposeful and through this miracle the faith of those that witnessed it increased dramatically.
As we see through these lessons, there is value in the wait. Sometimes our wait is required so He can birth new qualities within us shaping us into the person He needs us to be. Sometimes we wait because the road ahead needs cleared, and we sit in wait as He prepares the path before us. Sometimes He just needs us to wait and realize that He will do what He says and just because our time tables don’t match up, does not mean that He is not going to show up. It just means He is working.
Think it over:
1) Think about a time when you were like Saul, and took things into your own hands.
2) Ask God to help you learn from the situation, seek His forgiveness and use that instance as a reminder that things are better left in His hands and in His control.
3) Are you in a time of wait? If you are, what are you waiting on? Give this situation to God, and ask that He bear this burden for you helping you to be still.
4) Remember these lessons and the work that came out of the wait involved.
Now pray. Pray over all of this, and the next time disobedience rises up in your spirit and you are tempted to rise up as Saul did, fight back by remembering the devestating work it lended itself to in him – Choose Him.
Did you miss last week’s devotional on Ruth’s wait? Check it out here!