More of my life is waiting for the next thing, than experiencing it. I notice this so much more at Christmas. Everyone is collectively waiting for the same day, many times with different reasons and expectations. For some it is a time of grief because of loved ones who have died, or a time to hope for a certain present to be under the tree. For Israel, the wait for the Messiah had lasted hundreds of years, yet many missed the event when it finally happened.
I love 1 and 2 Samuel so much. I think I love the characters. Samuel, David, Abigail, I love to look at what they did with their waiting times. Today though I am struck by Saul and his waiting.
1 Samuel 13
Saul was faced with troops of the Philistines like the ‘sand at the seashore.’ His own soldiers trembled and hid (1 Samuel 13:6). He was waiting for Samuel to arrive to offer a sacrifice to God asking for blessing to ensure victory, but Samuel doesn’t come. Saul has seen God’s power in the past, but in that moment as he looks around, he sees the people scattering.
This is certainly not the only story in the Bible where a person becomes tired of waiting for God to act and takes matters into their own hands (I’m looking at you Abraham). Saul has only been king of Israel for two years. God has already shown that he will preserve Israel and Saul against the Ammonites. However Saul just can’t wait any longer. He panics when Samuel doesn’t arrive on the promised day and he offers the burnt offering himself. It was something only Samuel should do, but Saul took matters into his own hands.
Don’t allow yourself to believe that God doesn’t see.
The root of Saul’s problem is a lack of trust. He sees the enemy closing in and he believes that if he doesn’t take things into his own power, God will not give them victory. God is not a magic eight ball, something you can shake in a certain way to get the desired answer. God is the God who sees. He knows what you are facing and what you need for victory.
Don’t be discouraged by temporary circumstances.
It is easy to see why Saul was tempted to fear. He is facing an enemy larger than he has ever faced and his army is beginning to scatter. In the past Saul has called on God and has seen victory. However, Samuel should have been the one to offer the sacrifice. If you believe that God has the power to create the earth, to set the stars and planets in motion, yet not the power to overcome a circumstance facing you, perhaps you should reevaluate what you actually think him capable of.
In chapter 14 we see Jonathan and his armor bearer defeat twenty men by themselves. God’s power is not limited by man’s logic. Often the very circumstance that seems too difficult to overcome is the very situation that gives more glory to God when he overcomes it.
Decide who you really want to glorify.
At the end of the day, God is not on Saul’s list of people to consult. It matters more to Saul that he have victory in the eyes of his people, than that God be glorified. What or who do you glorify? In difficult circumstances I find myself facing idols that surprise me. I place my own comfort, vanity, and respectability above God’s glory. It seems less important that he be exalted than that I be delivered from a place where I don’t want to be.
Don’t waste the waiting.
Saul had an opportunity to lead the Israelites in an amazing victory. They were so outnumbered, that only God could deliver them from an army like this. His fear and pride win the day. I wonder if Saul realized the next day how foolish he had been to doubt that God would act. The day after Christmas always reminds me that I enjoy the days leading up to Christmas more than the day itself. They are full of memories and songs and lights. I love Christmas Day, but it is over before I know it. I need to let the waiting times be as important to me as the thing I’m waiting for.