It was as though I had forgotten what I looked like and each time I saw myself in the mirror, I would look at myself and think to myself, “Who is that guy staring back at me.” But on this day in particular, the penny dropped. Something clicked and I realized, “Good grief, that’s me!” But I wasn’t exactly thrilled with what I was seeing.
The story I had been reading was 1 Samuel 13. Saul had recently been anointed king of Israel and was on the verge of going to war against the Philistines. Both armies were gathering their troops and the Israelites were way out numbered… Big time! Saul was able to gather 2,000 men, while the Philistine army gathered 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteer, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
Needless to say, the Israelites were terrified. Many of Saul’s men began to hide out in caves and cisterns, some even headed home.
But what really struck me about this story was Saul’s response in the middle of the crisis and chaos. We are told in v7,
“Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.’ And Saul offered up the burnt offering.”
Seems harmless, right?
Samuel and Saul had made an appointment to seek God through sacrifices before going to battle. Saul’s men were scattering and Samuel was a no-show. So Saul decides to take matters into his own hands.
Easy decision, right?
I am sure that I would have done the exact same thing. Why? Cause I hate waiting. I hate it. Especially when I’ve made an appointment. Being raised in the American way, we are taught that time is money. Time is one of the most valuable resources that we have and we are always losing it and we can’t get it back. The clock is always ticking. Not only do I hate waiting when I’ve made an appointment, but I also come undone when the appointment involves a critical decision that needs to be made.
As I am reading this story, I’m thinking to myself, “Well played Saul. Well Played”
And at this point, I can imagine Saul is feeling good about himself. Because if I’m Saul I’m thinking, “That was a close one. I almost lost all my men. That would’ve been a disaster and then we would’ve been in even more trouble than we are now.”
But just as Saul finishes up the sacrifice, who should show up? Samuel. And Samuel’s response is less than enthusiastic. Samuel says to Saul,
“What have you done? You have done a foolish thing. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure.”
And this was the point in my reading where I realized, “Good grief, I am Saul.” The very thing that Saul does, that ultimately results in his kingdom not enduring, is the same things that I do every day. No, not making sacrifices without the presence of a prophet, but rather taking matters into my own hands.
The American way of doing things also teaches us that productivity and efficiency are of the utmost importance. And when things aren’t getting done, it’s best to take matters into your own hands in order to make things happen. Even if you are taking them from the hands of God.
What God ultimately taught me that morning was that it’s best if things stay in His hands. His timing and His ways are best. Even though the Israelites are severely out numbered, they win the battle, handedly. Even though Saul disobeyed, God is still faithful.
What God is looking for aren’t leaders who makes things happen and get things done, but rather leaders who are looking to pay attention and call attention to what He is doing. He’s looking for leaders who listen and obey, for leaders who stop, submit and slow down.
1. Is there a situation in your life where you feel your back is against the wall?
2. Is there a decision that needs to be made and does it feel like your running out of time?
3. Where is God leading you to trust and submit to Him.