May 2, 2006
"Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do." (1Samuel 10:8) "What have you done?" asked Samuel. Saul replied, 'When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." (1 Samuel 13: 11-12)
How good are you at waiting? It's kind of difficult in these days of instant everything. We eat fast food and cook at home in a microwave. We get fast cash out of ATM machines. Express lines at the grocery store allow us to get in and out...fast. We drive fast, eat fast, and we expect those who serve us in stores, restaurants, banks and the like to wait on us...fast. We are so accustomed to an instant society that it has become increasingly difficult for us to wait for anything. Especially God.
Saul had the same problem. Samuel had expressly told him to wait for him when he arrived at Gilgal. The Bible says that the Philistines had chariots and soldiers as "numerous as sand on the seashore" (1 Samuel 13: 5) and they pushed the Israelite troops eastward all the way to Gilgal. The Philistines were assembling against Israel and they were in a dire situation. Some hid. Some fled. All the troops were filled with fear. On the seventh day, when Samuel was due to arrive, Saul couldn't wait any longer and he made the community sacrifice which was strictly a priestly duty. What he did was unlawful. (Leviticus 6: 8-13) He also disobeyed the Prophet of the Lord by not waiting. "Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived." (1 Samuel 13: 10). I suspect that it was still the seventh day, just later in the day. Perhaps not as fast as Saul would have liked. He took matters into his own hands and it cost him his kingdom in the end. (1 Samuel 13: 14)
In verses 11 and 12 above you can almost sense Saul's frantic state of mind. (Deep breath) "When I saw that the men were scattering", (Gasp) "and that you didn't come at the set time", (sigh) "and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash", (wiping sweat from his brow) "I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' (Another deep breath...) "So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." Wild eyes, fear-filled words. Also a hint of blame on Samuel for not coming quickly enough.
"Waiting" is staying in place in expectation. It is remaining stationary in readiness. The history of the word puts it akin to "watching". I believe there is action and result inherent in the word "waiting". It is not a useless action. It is expectant and hopeful. Something is at the end of the waiting. I also believe that it is very important how we wait. Are we waiting while we murmur, grumble and complain? Or are we waiting joyfully, with great expectation and a good attitude, knowing that God is in control? Ah, there's the key. Do you believe that God is in control of your situation? Do you believe that you will see His answer manifested in your life? Do you REALLY believe it? If not, fear, blame and disobedience will follow just like it did in Saul's life. And you may miss your biggest blessing. What blessings have we possibly missed because we just couldn't wait on God? (see 1 Samuel 13: 13)
Psalm 27 says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Sounds like a command to me. Again in Psalm 37 we read, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." See, it does matter how we wait. The Bible says to wait patiently. Isaiah 40: 31 says, "they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Just as God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55: 9), His timing is not our timing. I have heard it said that God's timing is perfect and that He is never late. I must admit that I have, at times, thought that God was really, really late in coming to my rescue. But you know what? It always, and I mean always, worked out in the end, in His perfect timing. Things never worked when I took matters into my own hands and had to reap the consequences of my impatience. If you haven't learned this lesson for yourself, take it from someone who has been there.
Don't doubt God's goodness. Remember what He has brought you through in the past. Use that memory to boost your faith that He will bring you through now. He is the same God that parted your Red Sea last year and let you walk out of bondage. He is the same God who collapsed the walls of your personal Jericho. But remember that you may have to march around the walls a few times. He releases prisoners. He sets the captives free. He fights for those who are His own. He is for you, never against you. How do I know that? His Word tells me so. He binds the broken hearted and gives you beauty for ashes. He restores the years that the locusts have eaten and gives you a double portion for your former shame. Don't lose heart, my friend. He knows. He sees. He cares. He loves you. There is more to your problem than you can see. But He's got it under control. Trust Him. Wait for Him. Who knows? He could be coming, just around the corner, today!
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