Summary: When God intervenes, watch and see!
Sometime in the last decade of twentieth century, a young pastor who was a fresh graduate from a renowned seminary was assigned to shepherd an old church in a remote village. The church was founded and built sometime in the late nineteenth century, and that makes the church about a century old. The young pastor was surprised to notice that every time the congregation sings hymnals they face the eastern wall of the church interior, while holding their open hymnal books. This practice puzzled the pastor, which prompted him to investigate what was the origin of the baffling practice. He came to learn that there still is a living church member, a woman, who is already over ninety years of age. The pastor wasted no time to find the old woman and found her in her home. She was ill and bed-ridden, almost near to death. Normally, people of that age have unreliable memory but this old woman seemed sharp in her retention.
The pastor, after his gesture of respect and introductory words of courtesy, with gentle words, asked the old woman what could be the reason that the congregation faces the eastern wall of the church interior every time a hymnal is sung. The old lady answered in a muttering aged voice, "Young boy, I can only recall that we did not have hymnal books since I was a small girl, so we scribble the hymns on a broad sheet of paper and paste them on the eastern wall of the church interior". And it has been that way since. Sometimes, it takes an intervention of a seemingly insignificant figure to solve a problem.
Samuel, the prophet and priest of God, had a problem. Saul, the people’s king was rejected by God on the basis of his disobedience, justifying his transgression with silly pragmatism. Eventually, Israel is experiencing defeat from the hands of the Philistines. The people of God are in need of a king that is approved of God. The Lord ordered Samuel to go to Bethlehem, in the home of Jesse, to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the new king. Samuel might have had some expectations of how the man would look like. He could have envisioned that the man he is going to anoint king over Israel would be much taller and he-man looking than Saul, the rejected one. But this time, God’s intervention was totally in contrast to Samuel’s expectations.
How often we come into a difficult situation that we are trapped in helplessness and we desperately implore God to intervene in a miraculous way. At times we want God to intervene with His power just like the time of Noah’s rain to quench our thirst and satisfy the yearnings of our souls. Sometimes we demand that God intervene with the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah that would annihilate our enemies and keep us entrenched within His omnipotent protection. How often, we want God to intervene like the Sinai wind and fire that blows and burns our fears and doubts, calmly leaving us within His secure peace. Oh, how we wish that God would intervene like the wilderness earthquake that would jolt our adversaries’ hearts and make them comply with our standards. But that is not always the case.
In the situation of Samuel, we can learn some important points that God’s interventions to solve our dilemma and rectify our situations are not always according to our expectations.
1. God’s Simple Solutions are Often Strange
2. God’s Surprising Promotions are Usually Sudden
3. God’s Sovereign Selections are Always Sure
These three lessons could be extracted from the experience of Samuel when he went to Bethlehem, in the house of Jesse, to anoint David, the new king over Israel.
1. God’s Simple Solutions are Often Strange – Let us be Observant
Every one of us has the tendency to anticipate what God would do to solve our problems. We even claim by faith what we want done, and suffice our emotions appeased by it. But often, God doesn’t work the way we want Him to. More often than not:
a. God’s simple solutions are Different from our Ardent Anticipations.
Samuel must have expected to anoint a he-man, with bulging muscles on his biceps and triceps; a solid chest and layered abs. But no, he was wrong. He must have pictured a man that would out-muscle Saul. It turned out in the end that it was David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons – cute and ruddy better fit for a youth choir in a wedding ceremony. We may get something different from what we ask from God. But for sure what God will give us would be much better than what we have desired and prayed for. He supplies us all our needs, not merely our wants.