Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 13 – 15
Have you ever had a difficult decision to make? Did you inquire of your closest friends and family as to what to do? Perhaps you listed out the pros and cons of your decision, or wondered what someone you respect would do in the same situation. Did you spend time asking God for direction and wisdom on the decision you were facing?
In the next two chapters of 1 Samuel, there are three different scenarios of someone inquiring of the Lord, each different in the timing.
CHOOSING OUR OWN BATTLES
First, King Saul selected 3,000 special troops from the army of Israel and sent the rest of the men home. They defeated a garrison of Philistines, starting a fight they felt unprepared to finish.
The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3000 chariots, 6000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!…The men of Israel saw what a TIGHT SPOT they were in; and because they were HARD PRESSED by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead. Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were TREMBLING WITH FEAR. – 1 Samuel 13:5-7
When in a tight spot, when hard pressed by the enemy, God’s people chose FEAR INSTEAD OF FAITH. They chose hiding places or ran for safety. After seven days of waiting for Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice to God, Saul panicked and offered the burnt offering himself – breaking the Lord’s command. His men were fleeing the battle and their fear was contagious, causing Saul to get impatient and move ahead of God.
MOVING AHEAD OF GOD
“The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!” – 1 Samuel 13:12
Have you ever found yourself part way into a decision or situation or simply into your day, and then realize you haven’t even asked God what He wants you to do or asked for His help? I can relate to Saul in this situation. There have been times when it has dawned on me that I am impatiently charging ahead without inquiring of the Lord. In this situation, Saul finds himself reacting out of panic and making a bad choice because he had not taken the time to involve God sooner. Been there, done that.
Then there is Saul’s son, Jonathan. His statement in 1 Samuel 14:6 describes a slightly different scenario: “PERHAPS the Lord will be us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
CHARGING AHEAD WITH OUR OWN PLAN
Jonathan did not take the time to consult with Saul, Samuel or with the Lord. Instead he came up with his own plan and charged ahead! Jonathan’s attitude was one of – I’m going to do what I want to do and hopefully the Lord will bless it. Ouch! I’m afraid I have been guilty of this one too.
Fortunately for Jonathan and all the Israelites, God did choose to use the immature actions of the king’s son to confuse the Philistines and help the Israelite army of 600 men defeat the large Philistine army. God caused panic to break out in the Philistine camp and He sent an earthquake to strike fear in the heart of the enemy. The vast army of Philistines began to melt away in every direction (14:16) – just like our enemies fade away when God fights our battles for us.
ASKING GOD FIRST
Lastly let’s look at a statement made by the priest Ahijah, Eli’s great-grandson: “Let’s ask God first” (14:36). Now this is more like it. Thankfully I can relate to this statement as well and this is where I want to start my day as I drink my morning coffee, going to God in prayer.
Saul and Jonathan were both doing a good thing. After all, they were putting their life at risk by leading the Israelite army in efforts to protect all of the people – they were prepared to fight to defend the freedom of their families. But in the words of Samuel in 15:22, “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”
What I plan to do with my day today may be a GOOD thing or even a sacrificial thing but, if I have not consulted with God to see what He wants me to do today, then I may miss out on what is better – the opportunity to do a GOD thing!
Precious Father, before I get any farther into my day, I submit to your plan – to your sovereignty. Guide me down the paths you want me to walk today. Use me in whatever way you desire. I want to do more than just make sacrifices for what seems like a good purpose, I want every action to be in obedience and submission to your leading. God, nothing can hinder you. You can win a battle whether you have many warriors or only a few! Choose my battles for me and lead me into your will. Thank you for living in me and working through me today. Amen.