In Our Own Hands
Lord God, my refuge and strength, my help. You are the bedrock on which my life is built.
Read 1 SAMUEL 13:1-22
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Samuel immediately announced that Saul would lose his kingdom (13-14) for he clearly saw that Saul was a man who would take things into his own hands and that he would find a good reason (11-12) for doing so” (Dallas Willard, 1935-2013).
There is a persistent cry for leadership in society and in the church. Saul gives us a very mixed model. Chosen for his impressive presence (1 Sam. 9:2) and humility, he starts out well but the cracks are beginning to show. Strategically he appears weak, neglecting to prepare for battle and losing fighting men from fear while they wait around. More important, he did not acknowledge that his authority came solely from God. It is only the first of many such lapses. Taking on the full force of the technically superior Philistines with their chariots and iron weapons is no doubt making him nervous. He has several less-than-ideal options: waiting beyond the seven days nominated for the sacrifice and see his troops disperse; start the fight without Samuel’s blessing before the Philistines get too close to the Israelites’ hillside position where their inferior weapons give them the best advantage; or do the sacrifice himself and get on with it.
It’s easy to say he should have waited. What does it require to wait for God rather than take things into our own hands? Walter Brueggemann (Interpretation and Obedience) says Abraham and Sarah, when promised their own child, had to “wait on without surrendering the vision.” They made the mistake of trying to do things their own way, but eventually their waiting received the promise.
Proactive leadership, the kind we pine for, may make mistakes but dare not lose the vision. For Saul the damage is done and he forfeits the leadership. Did God made a mistake choosing Saul (1 Sam. 9:16)? Could his judgment have been reversed? It becomes clear, given David’s later prominence, that this story is told to bring him into the picture. As Paul says, he (Saul) was the one whom God chose (Acts 13:22). Who can argue with God?
God says: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding (Jer. 3:15). Pray for vision and patience for those shepherds you know.
Lord God, I want to learn from the mistakes of Saul. I desire to trust Your perfect wisdom, love, and power and I pray for grace to do so.