Posts Tagged ‘Saul’

Do you ever feel like everything’s just gone sideways? One minute you’re happily heading in a direction that God seems to have led you in going right down the middle of the road, when the next thing you know, you’re listing to the right or the left wondering what’s going on?

Our natural tendency is to fix things, right them, because if we’re listing to one side or another then something must surely be wrong, shouldn’t it? It’s not like our direction has changed, but because of the tilt or sidestep that takes us in another track on the same path, our perspective changes making everything look weird.

This perspective change can be subtle, or all-encompassing, but you will know when it happens to you, followed by the inevitability of your trying to take over and make things right.

Every once in a while God either causes the siutation or allows it, either way the end result is the same, a deep core level change that throws us off-balance. It not only throws us off-balance but it confuses us, and although we are on the same path as before, we start to question God, ourselves and whether we’re actually doing what we’re supposed to be doing at all.

Because if things are a little off doesn’t that mean something’s wrong? Even if God has assured us that everything’s okay and He has things well in hand? And not only that, but to continue to rely on His promises and what He has for us even if things look like they’re out of sync, out of timing and well, off kilter.

I’m reminded of King Saul who has a really bad reputation because of how he ended up and his single-minded obsession with killing David. But, before all that he was a pretty decent king, one who fought his battles hard, looked like he was following God and was blessed by God.

Yet, it was in one of those listing times that we get a glimpse into where his heart truly lay and his ability to really trust God when it looked like everything was sideways and God wasn’t anywhere nearby taking care of anything.

In those days it was very important to make an offering to God before battle, and according to the Law only priests could do that. It didn’t matter one wit  if you were king and needed to go into battle. God had spoken and you were expected to follow what He said.

In 1 Samuel 13 Saul was set to lead his troops into a battle against the Philistines. The Israelites were in a bad spot a ‘sticky wicket’, as my Nann used to say. The Philistine’s numbers were huge compared to the Israelites and Saul needed to have the ritual  offering performed so he could rally the troops and start the battle. Yet, the High Priest Samuel who told Saul he would be at Gilgal to perform the offering at a certain time didn’t show up when he said he would.

Saul was desperate, his troops were deserting him and the Philistines were waiting. It looked like everything was going sideways, unraveling so he decided that the things that God had said just didn’t apply in the situation. He performed the offering himself.

We are told it was just as he finished that Samuel walked up. Think about that for a moment, just as Saul was finishing up the ritual the only person who was supposed to perform it showed up, which means God was providing, Samuel was on his way, but Saul couldn’t see it. With just a little more patience on Saul’s part, a little more trust in God and not what his own perspective on the situation was, would have averted what ended up being one of the worst decisions of his life.

It turned out to be the pivotal moment in his life. His whole kingdom rode on that decision, literally. Samuel laid it out on the line for Saul when he saw what Saul had been “forced” to do according to Saul himself.

“Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have been foolish. You have not kept the command which the LORD your God gave you. It was at this time that the LORD would have permanently established your reign over Israel, but now your reign will not endure.'” 1 Samuel 13:13-14a

If he had just trusted God to provide, if he had just been a little more patient, God would have given him the kingdom. As it was, by getting ahead of God and doing what he knew was wrong in the sight of God, even though his reasons looked valid, he literally lost the kingdom.

Saul panicked, he was afraid and he gave into that fear forgetting who the God of Israel truly was.

Saul’s decision reveals something far deeper than someone who took matters into his own hands. It shows that he was much more concerned with the rituals of his faith than a heart faith in the God who had given him everything, put him on the right path and although everything looked like it was going sideways was going to take care of it in His own way and timing, not Saul’s.

Ultimately Saul was replaced, by David, a man who made possibly far worse worldly mistakes than Saul ever did – sending the husband of a woman that he got pregnant to the front lines to ensure his death and cover up his own culpability doesn’t rank very highly in the ‘you’re doing things right’ category – yet it was David who was called a man after God’s own heart.

Why? Because when things went sideways David went to God. Generally he didn’t take matters into his own hands, he asked God what he was supposed to do, then waited on God for an answer. Sometimes he did what we all do, he panicked, got anxious, didn’t ask God about anything and just charged ahead. But when he realized what he had done, he didn’t make excuses for his behavior, or list out all the reasons why he was justified to do what he did, he went right back to God and made things right.

David knew God well enough, had spent enough time with Him that he knew the God he served, and because of that he knew that God would come through even if everything looked crazy.

We all make these kinds of decisions, don’t we? We think we know how God is.  We know we’re supposed to trust Him. We know that He’s taking care of things on a large-scale far past what we can see.  But when things go a little sideways, if we’re knocked to one side of the path or the other and it makes our perspective different, we get a little crazy.

Our actions speak louder in those times than at any other time in our lives. Do we run ahead of God, taking matters into our own hands even when we’re not convinced we should do so, and in some cases are flat-out know we’re not supposed to, because it looks like God isn’t going to deliver? Or, do we rest in the knowledge of who God is?

When life goes sideways, does it reveal that you are a Saul or a David?

“Do not fear, for I am with you: Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

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