Part 3: Recognizing in ourselves, the fear that if God’s promises don’t happen in the time we want them to happen, thinking they won’t happen at all.
I've posted this short book by parts: Intro. Part 1. Part 2. And Part 3. If you'd like all four parts in one PDF, feel free to download it here, now. Enjoy.
Story 3: Saul
1 Samuel 10v8, 13v5–12
1. What does God say?
God, speaking to Saul through Samuel the Prophet, said:
“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.” 10v8
In other words, wait for Samuel to come.
Note: The times in which the Hebrew Scriptures were written was primarily a visitation cultural, meaning God would “come and go,” speaking with certain people at certain times. Prophets were the people who God spoke through. So, in this story, Samuel hears from God and relays the messages to Saul.
2. What does the person do?
“The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
“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 Mikmash, 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.” 13v5–12
Saul did not fully wait for Samuel.
Samuel had said:
1. “you must wait seven days…”
2. “…until I come to you…”
But Saul did not wait until Samuel came.
3. What fear did the person/people trust more than God that moved them to reject God’s way?
Fear: While there’s a lot happening in this story, at the end of the day, Saul feared that what God had said (through Samuel) wouldn’t happen.
4. What happened?
“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 13v13–14
Saul was no longer in a position to receive what God wanted to give him. He lost the ability to be a successful king.
Recognizing in ourselves, the fear that if God’s promises don’t happen in the time we want them to happen, thinking they won’t happen at all.
Practice: Trusting God is a learned process. Like learning to ride a bike, we can take small practical steps to help us become more ready for the big ones.
God speaks in ways we can understand. I believe the Scriptures make us familiar with His tone so that we can more easily tune into, and actively participate with, the always on-going conversation with Love (and each-other) in our everyday moments.
So a “small” step in learning to trust God is to read and practice the teachings of Jesus. For today, let’s practice what Jesus says in Matthew 5v44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
You may not (or maybe you do) have major enemies, but we can practice this teaching in our moments of frustration, irritation, and anger with those around us. So today, when these moments arise, choose to recognize them and enter into a conversation with the One who knows best, the One who created you and loves you and loves the person whose irritating you.
By practicing this, you’re agreeing with God in your everyday moments. And, as you grow in the practice of agreeing with God, when He speaks something specific to you that’s “bigger”, you’ll be in a better position to listen and obey. God always knows best. We can trust Him, His ways, and His timing.
Prayer: Father, thank you for always keeping Your promises. Thank you for always telling me what’s best. I know there are times it’s easy for me not to trust You, but I want to cultivate a life where I trust you no matter the logical odds. Holy Spirit, thank you for being here. For being my Teacher. I want to agree and follow You today as I chose to live the way Jesus says is best.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this three part study on fear and its effects on trusting God.
My prayer is that we’d continue to allow the Spirit of God to form the way we see and know all things.
That we’d be honest about our weaknesses, both with God and each other.
And that together, we’d learn to recognize the fears that lie at the foundation of our brokenness, and have the courage to agree with Love to move through them.