Yesterday I explained how some people greatly inspire me to a walk of Faith and a deeper intimacy with my Father. Yes, in all fairness, there are some who, well, don’t inspire me. But that will have to wait for another message.
If you were to go to the 13th Chapter of 1st Samuel, you would see that Saul (who at that time was king of what later became known as Israel), faced a crucial moment that every believer must eventually confront: a time of crisis. That’s right. A time when we are forced to decide whether we are going to wait (by faith, that is) for our Father, or, to become impatient and take matters into our own hands. And yes, it does make a difference. Remember the Proverb that says, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death” (Proverbs 14:12). That is a reality many believers struggle with, at times.
I love the way Eugene Peterson renders that verse in The Message:
There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell (Proverbs 14:12)
Ouch! Another to think about it, sometimes you just know what the Lord wants you to do, but, by golly, you make a fool of yourself. The perfect example of this is when Saul was faced with a decision to follow the Lord, or rely on his own thinking.
The Bible tells us that “ominous clouds of war were gathering over Israel” (ooh, eerie, isn’t it?). The Philistines had a huge army of horsemen, iron chariots and thousands of highly experienced and trained soldiers carrying the latest weapons. I mean they looked menacing and strong — the proverbial “David and Goliath.” In contrast, the Israelites only had two swords in their entire army — one for Saul and one for his son, Jonathan. Everyone else had no choice but to use makeshift weapons, such as wooden spears or crude farm tools. Yeah, they probably looked like children with rubber tomahawks, and none of them were trained soldiers. They were just farmers recruited by Saul. Kind of like when the Chinese invented the Nunchaku.
Today, we know the Nunchaku as a Japanese martial arts weapon. Initially, it was an agricultural tool the peasants used in China. As legend has it, in the mid 10th century, the first emperor of the Chinese Sung dynasty, Jiu-Hong Jun, saw workers in the field using a strange tool made out of two sticks tied together with a rope. This crude device, helped the lowly peasants harvest wheat and rice. Jiu being a military guy, said, “Hey, that looks cool! I bet I could use that in battle!”
Now, to fill in some background of Saul’s predicament, he was about to face that “yooge” army of well-trained soldiers, and all he had to work with were a bunch of puny farm boys with a few farm implements. Holy Moly, Batman!
To make matters worse, a week before this incident, Samuel (a prophet of Yahweh) had warned Saul to wait for him at Gilgal before he went off to battle. I mean, there was no way he could face that army without the help of their God, right? Samuel told him that he would arrive after seven days to make the proper sacrifices to the Lord, of which, by the way, only Samuel was authorized to offer.
When the seventh day came, and Samuel hadn’t arrived, Saul’s soldiers began to scatter. And even worse, the king didn’t have God’s direction to go into battle! BIG problemo!
Saul had some choices to make. Was he going to stand firm, declaring, “I know Sam said he would return in seven days, I don’t care if it takes him eight days to arrive, I am going to stand on God’s Word! Live or die; I will obey his command!”?
Well, that would have been the correct choice. But no, Saul panicked. He allowed himself to be overwhelmed by his circumstances and he ended up manipulating his way around God’s Word. Oh, the webs we weave.
Now, wait. Just to fill you in here, Saul was not Yahweh’s choice as king of Israel. He had no real relationship or devotion to the God of Israel. It’s that, in the people’s eyes, Saul looked like what they pictured a king should be. He was tall and rugged like a king, just like a KING! Understand, I am not trying to justify Saul’s choice. Dear God, NO! I am merely trying to explain what was going on.
You see, instead of waiting for Samuel (Yahweh’s representative) to arrive, Saul ordered the priest who was present to make the sacrifices without Samuel! Oh, oh!
Saul’s impatience was a BIG no-no! By doing what he did, he was committing a terrible sin! And, as you can imagine, the Lord wasn’t too happy about it (see I Samuel 13:11–12).
What Saul never learned was that God is never too late. All along, the Lord knew each step Samuel was taking toward Gilgal. Think of Samuel being on a heavenly navigation system. God was pinpointing his arrival to the very second! Not a moment too early and not a moment too late! Samuel would be there by day seven, even if he were one minute before midnight, he would arrive on day seven!
Yahweh hasn’t changed any, since this time. He is still concerned with whether his people obey his command. To paraphrase what Samuel told Saul later: “Obey the voice of the Lord, and don’t rebel against Him.” (see I Samuel 12:15).
If you don’t obey him and rebel against what he tells you to do, king or no king, you won’t fare any better. Even if your life is spinning out of control; Even if you are overwhelmed with debt; Even if your business is in peril; Even if your children are in rebellion. Yes, even if your marriage is breaking; Even if you are still suffering that stinking condition you have been experiencing — we are to walk in total confidence that our Lord will do what He has promised! Even if things look hopeless, we are to never act in fear. We are to wait for Him patiently to deliver us. Just as His Word promises!
The fact is, even as the massive Philistine army pressed in, Yahweh stood right beside Saul. He knew the crisis Saul was in and his eyes were on every detail. Our Father sees every aspect of our plight. He perceives the minutest detail of each problem we have pressing in on us. And He is fully aware that our situation is daily getting worse. Those who pray and wait on him with calm faith are never in any real danger. Moreover, he knows all our panicky thoughts:
“I don’t see how I can ever repay this debt . . .”
“I don’t have any hope for my marriage . . .”
“I don’t know how I can keep my job . . .” ”
there is no hope for this depression and anxiety I feel . . .”
“there is no hope for . . .”
His command to you still holds true: “Don’t panic or get ahead of me. You are to do nothing but pray — then rely on me. I honor everyone who puts their trust in me.”
I know you are thinking “Hey Nickolas, that’s easy for you to preach, but you don’t know my situation . . .” I don’t have to. Consider these words our Caretaker has given to those He loves:
“Without faith, it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6)
“Trust in Him, lean on Him, rely on Him, and have confidence in Him at all times . . . pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us. He is a fortress and a high tower. Stop and calmly think of that!” (Psalm 62:8)
“Those of you who fear the Lord, trust in and lean on Him! He is your Help and your Shield” (Psalm 115:11)
From the bottom of your heart, trust the faithfulness of your Father; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen to His voice in everything you do and everywhere you go; He is the one who will keep you on track. Don’t presume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health; your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor our God with everything you own; give Him the first and the best. But don’t resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction.
“Trust Yahweh with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths smooth.
Do not consider yourself wise.
Fear Yahweh, and turn away from evil.
Then your body will be healed,
and your bones will have nourishment.
Honor Yahweh with your wealth
and with the first and best part of all your income.[b]
Then your barns will be full,
and your vats will overflow with fresh wine.
Do not reject the discipline of Yahweh, my son,
and do not resent his warning,
because Yahweh warns the one he loves,
even as a father warns a son with whom he is pleased” (Proverbs 3:5–12).
Unbelief is deadly, its consequences tragic. And, my dear friends, we face dire consequences if we use our own resources or wisdom to free ourselves from an entanglement or problem, instead of trusting God to see us through them.
Father, my joy, and confidence are in you and you alone! I confess that many times I have tried to “fix” my problems on my own. Forgive me, Lord. I now choose to wait quietly for you, because my hope is entirely in you, and in your Word.
Lord, you alone are my rock and my salvation; my fortress where I will never be afraid or worried. My victory and honor come from you alone.
You are my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. I will always trust you no matter what my circumstances are. Father, each morning I will pour out my heart to you; you are my strength and my hope! (Psalm 3:5-12)
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I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.