Summary: A look at the challenge of patiently waiting on God’s perfect timing, and some of the consequences if we fail to do so.
I Samuel 10:1-8, 13:1-14
I don’t know if you have this same phenomenon in the Wesleyan church, but in the Nazarene churches where I grew up, you were pretty safe if you saved yourself some energy and simply carried a New Testament to church. There are places where the Old Testament is hardly ever referred to, and even more seldom preached directly from.
However, throughout my life I have developed a real interest and pull towards the Old Testament. I believe the kingdoms and the leaders of those kingdoms provide us with a great deal of wisdom and understanding on how the people of God are to live today.
One such example is found in the book of I Samuel. If you will turn there with me. It is the ninth book of the Old Testament. If you get to II Samuel, you are real close. I Samuel 10. I want us to look at two rather lengthy, but important passages, which will provide us with a fundamental lesson as we launch into this new time period and history together here at Stonewall Wesleyan Church. I Samuel 10 (read through v. 9). Then turn over to chapter 13 (read through v. 14).
In these passages, we find Saul making one crucial error, which leads to others. What Saul has done, the one crucial error he has made the way I see it, is that he has placed God on a timetable. And to be more specific, he has placed God on a human timetable.
The results are not very pretty. In fact, this is just one example of Saul’s behavior, and the beginning of the demise of Saul through his disobedience, and lack of respect for the authority of God over the people of Israel.
Samuel has told Saul what will take place up to the time at Gilgal. As he has described this time to Saul he has said to him “surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices.” Surely I will. I guarantee it. You have my word. He then tells Saul he will wait seven days before coming. But when you read all of verse 8 in chapter 10 you realize an important truth.
The issue Samuel was communicating to Saul was not that he should wait seven days for him, but that he should wait “till” Samuel comes to him and shows him what to do. Samuel is the priest, he offers the sacrifices. Wait for him. It appears that will only be seven days, but even if it isn’t, he is to wait till the arrival of Samuel.
Are you with me? Well, that is easier said than done for Saul. In fact, he has chosen 3,000 men for himself. He has divided them up for battle, and is waiting for Samuel when he hears that the Philistines have gathered together with 30,000 chariots, and 6,000 horsemen. In fact, the people are described as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
Now, understand that 36,000+ against 3,000 are not very good odds. And in fact, we read that Saul’s people begin to scatter, so that by the time Samuel’s visit is completed he is down to 600 men. He is looking at a slaughter. His death, along with that of the people would appear immanent. So rather than waiting around for old Samuel to show up, Saul decides it is time to act.
You can almost see him waiting with the stopwatch. “Come on Samuel. Hurry up. Okay, seven days are over, I’m taking matters into my own hands.” Now, what I want us to understand today is really one simple truth. Here it is: When we put God on a human timetable, when we begin to rush God’s timing, when we get impatient and in a hurry, when we decide to take matters into our own hands, the consequences will be disastrous.
Let’s look at them together. I have five for you, I am sure there are more, but let’s examine five of them together.
First, we see that we will focus on people rather than God. Notice verses 7 and 8 (read). Then verse 9 begins, “So.” Saul was not offering a sacrifice to God out of worship. He was not offering a sacrifice to God out of obedience. He was offering a sacrifice to God because the people were scared to death and scattering from him, and he didn’t like it. “So” he moved forward on his own. He was distracted by his circumstances rather than focused on his Father.
Now, I don’t believe God operates that way, but when we get in a hurry, we will focus on the people and circumstances around us, rather than on God. We will focus on the work, the bills, and the deadlines. We will loose our focus of God.