June 3, 2023
“Samuel said to Saul, 'You have been foolish. You have not kept the command, which the Lord your God gave to you. It was at this time that the Lord would have permanently...'”
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“Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have been foolish. You have not kept the command, which the Lord your God gave to you. It was at this time that the Lord would have permanently established your reign over Israel, but now your reign will not endure. The Lord has found a man loyal to Him, a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people because you have not done what the Lord commanded.’ Then, Samuel went from Gilgal to Gibeah in Benjamin. Saul registered the troops with him, about 600 men.” 1 Samuel 13:13-15 (HCSB)
There was once a man whose wife told him to move their china cabinet. She knew it would be an all-day job because she had a lot of china, and the cabinet was quite large. She decided to go out for the day with the stern warning: Have this cabinet moved before I come home this evening. As is typical with men, this woman’s husband decided to put the job off, watching sports all day instead. About 5 o’clock, his wife called, saying she would be home soon. The man decided the only way to cover his laziness would be to call his neighbor for help. The neighbor got delayed with a task from his wife, so now the only way to move the cabinet was with the china still inside. Then the man tripped on the rug. Needless to say, porcelain fought gravity, and gravity won. When his wife came home, the husband tried to blame everything on their neighbor’s slowness in coming over.
This could also be the story of King Saul; no questioning the pressure Saul must have felt. The Philistines were breathing down his neck because of a bold yet maverick move by Saul’s son Jonathan. His army was afraid, hiding and deserting the cause. And to add insult to injury, Samuel was nowhere to be found. So, Saul feels compelled to do something. He feels he must do something kingly and military in a priestly sort-of way. All he really needed to do was wait.
Should we give Saul any credit? After all, he waited 6 ¾ days instead of the full seven that Samuel had ordered. But it’s not just how you run the race; it’s how you finish that earns the prize. Samuel’s job was to bear God’s Word, and Saul’s job was to do it. For Saul, the sacrificial ritual was essential, but prophetic direction was not. By his action, Saul professed that certain emergencies rendered the Lord’s Word unnecessary. When the chips were down, Saul believed the kingdom could function on its own, based on God’s promise, yet, in neglect of obedience to His Word.
Does this sound familiar? It is the core message of the argument for separation of church and state in the United States. It compartmentalizes and quarantines business, relationships, education, and politics from religion. It says to God, “You can have my soul, but that’s it. You may come to this border, but no further.” Saul’s punishment was that the kingdom would not be passed down through his descendants.
Let’s take the time and ask God to reveal those areas in our lives where we refuse to wait on Him, choosing to lean on our own understanding instead of seeking and obeying His Word.
©Steve Wiggins 2021