Summary: Saul, Pt. 3
LIFE IS A TEST (1 SAMUEL 13:5-15)
There are many tests in life: death of loved ones, getting the pink slip and struggles in the family, to name the most stressful. One of the most stressful periods of my life was when I returned to full-time continuing theological education. My savings dried up after six months in school. Two of my courses were actually paid by a relative and a friend because I barely had enough to make the $700 monthly mortgage payment on my house. In fact, a few months after I had closed my bank account, an account’s clerk from the seminary told me that they could not cash the $3,000 check I sent them three months ago that they finally got around to process. I did not know the bill was outstanding. Someone else again paid for me. But the worse was yet to come.
I was using my sister’s old car when I crashed into a lady’s car. At that time I had sold my car. The car I was driving suffered irreparable damage, but the lady’s bumper had only scratches and was not dented. Besides receiving a ticket for the crash when the police showed up, I also received a warning letter from DMV saying that they were close to suspending my license due to my record of two tickets in less than eighteen months. However, my biggest worry was the lady’s claim for damages could end up canceling the car insurance of my sister, whose driving record was no better than mine. The lady’s husband demanded $2,500 from me, claiming that her wife was pregnant. I was a sitting duck. Again, someone had to pay for me. By God’s grace, for the next six years I did not receive a ticket, had any crash or suffered a similar incident.
How would you respond when you are tested? Would you be bitter or better? Would you stay down or get up when you fall down?
Allow Crises to Fashion Your Resolve, Not Force Your Hand
5 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 Micmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the men of Israel 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. 7 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. (1 Sam 13:5-7)
In 1987, a middle age George Foreman decided to return to boxing after a ten year’s absence. He vowed to challenge for the heavyweight championship. For seven years, he fought and defeated younger boxing opponents and his success earned him a fight with Michael Moorer, the heavyweight champion at that time.
Twenty years after he last held the heavyweight championship of the world in his hands, the 45-year old George Foreman, however, found himself the butt of jokes. Boxing fans, radio commentators and sports columnists chided and teased him for being overweight, out of shape and long past his prime. They urged him to save his own neck, to give way to the young and not to tarnish the image of boxing.
Not only did Foreman win the fight, he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round and became not only the heavyweight champion of the world, but also the oldest heavyweight champion in history. Foreman later said what motivated him; “I got back into boxing, and it was rough going. People were making jokes, ‘How is George Foreman ever going to become the prodigal son of boxing if he still looks like the fatted calf? He can’t be heavyweight champ of the world as long as his training camp is Baskin Robbins.’”
In another interview, George Foreman told what motivated him. He said, “I never would have been able to do that without the criticism I’d gotten for coming back at a later age.” (Los Angeles Times 11/14/95)
As Blake Edwards, the writer and director of the “Pink Panther” movies and husband of the Sound of Music’s Julie Andrews, said as he accepted an honorary Oscar in 2004 for his lifetime of work: “I thanked everyone who has contributed to this moment, friend and foes alike; I couldn’t have done it without the foes.” (New York Times 3/1/04 “‘Lord of the Rings’ Dominates the Oscars”)
The Israelites were facing a major crisis, but the crisis was the loss of resolve and the will to fight. For decades (v 1), under Saul’s leadership, they had not lost a battle. Saul skillfully kept the mighty Philistines enemies at bay and fought them to a standstill (1 Sam 14:52). The Israelites army was more than a match for other nations. Many enemies surrounded them, but they gave punishment more than they took it (1 Sam 14:47-48, 15:5). At most, the Israelites retreated, but they never surrendered. Their biggest triumph was mustering 330,000 troops to defeat the Ammonites (1 Sam 11:8), but now the sight of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen and a Philistine army as numerous as sand on the seashore made the people go into shock and hiding. When the Israelites saw that Saul’s 3,000 men (v 2) were outnumbered by at least 3 to 1, they were distressed. For the first time in their lives they felt such pressure and felt so stressed. The people were overwhelmed, squeezed and desperate to the point that they “hid” themselves; ironically, the same word for how Saul previously hid himself among the baggage (1 Sam 10:22).