Ok, I just read something hilarious in the Bible. It's in 1 Samuel 16. Samuel, the prophet, has the funniest conversation with God.
Samuel seems like a really sweet man, but a hardcore God-follower at that. God called him to do some really rough stuff. For example, he had to tell Saul that he was no longer God's anointed choice for the Israelites. I do not envy him that job in the least. It's rough enough confronting a person when they've offended God and/or you- but going on behalf of an entire nation to a king who was slightly crazy and mostly bad-tempered and saying, "You're fired" ? Something tells me Samuel enjoyed those words a little less than "the Donald."
The reason I say that is because Samuel had a hard time getting over Saul's disappointing choices. Samuel knew that Saul's rejection of the Lord and His Word had caused the Lord to reject Saul, so there was only one action to take- tell Saul that the kingdom was being given over the one "better than you." Whoa. Who wants to say those words to someone? And who wants to hear them? How devastating to know that God has seen your poor stewardship of the gift He gave you and decided that you are no longer chosen to receive the blessing! But God's mind was made up! Saul had rejected God's Word. Despite being given every evidence and provision from the Holy One, he continued in his sin- and did not repent- not until Samuel caught up with him and called him out. But by then, as Samuel said, "He who is the Glory of Isreal does not lie or change his mind; for he is not man, that he should change his mind." I find that a frightening and fascinating thought! First frightening because I know that I have embarked on sinful escapades that have lasted days, weeks, months, years longer than I would have ever even thought possible. Struggling with a pattern of sin is so serious, grievous, and requires a lot of faith and endurance to overcome. How amazing that the Holy One knows hearts- Isaiah 11 says that He does not judge us by what he sees or hears. In other words, it's not our actions, those are too easy to fake, it's our heart's attitude that He is paying attention to. And, He alone is able to know where we are with those things while we struggle with sin. And that's where the fascinating part comes in. God knows when someone is given over to the sin they've chosen. And there's no faking it with Him. I love this about Him. Because people can say one thing and then turn and do the exact opposite, but God is not fooled!!! He knows the hearts of man. And, in this case, He knew that Saul's was not going to change.
But Samuel was bummed out. The Bible says He mourned Saul for a long time. And God was grieved too. Another sweet thought- it's possible to grieve together with God over the same disappointment. However, God, because He is completely Other, knew when it was time to move on. And when it was time for Samuel to get movin' on with Him. So He said to Samuel,
"How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel ? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way!"
I love this. God telling Samuel to move on, buddy, it's over. I don't say that lightly. I say that with awe. God is so sovereign. Only He knows when something is over. All we can do is follow His word, obey and wait. But sometimes, things end. Sometimes it's time to start brand new. And that was the case here.
But Samuel was freaked out! God commanded Samuel to fill his horn with oil so that he could go anoint the new king- one of Jesse's sons. But all that Samuel could think about was how Saul was going to be ticked off that he was going behind his back and anointing a new king.
Poor Samuel- he tried to be straightforward. He told Saul exactly what God had told him to say. But he knew that Saul was filled with rage, and he was afraid he would come after him! Oh, how I can relate! Even after being obedient to the Lord, I sometimes fear the wrath of man. Samuel was so freaked out he said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!"
Now here's the part that I find funny- after Samuel freaks out to God, His response is- "Take a heifer with you and say..." I think this is funny because God completely ignores Samuel's freak out moment. I don't think it's that God didn't care about Samuel's fear and I KNOW it wasn't because God didn't hear Him (he knew the word before it was on his tongue! Psalm 139) But, I think that Saul was such a non-threat in the eyes of the Lord that He didn't waste a breath even acknowledging Samuel's fear- it wasn't worth His time.
This is great to me. I love it. God is just like, ok, Samuel you have to move on from Saul. His time is over. I'm sad over it too. But a new blessing is waiting over at Jesse's and if you're ever going to get to it, you gotta get going.
Thank you, Glory of Isreal. You are so right. Always right.
Andy said yesterday, "we don't need to dwell on anything that isn't pleasing to God" to include our hurt or past sin, or the sin of other people. So true. And what a great help from my sweet help-mate! There is a time of repentance and grief over our sin, and the sins of others, but eventually God says "move on." God wasn't ignoring Saul's sin- that's important. We can't ignore sin because God never does. But Samuel had to trust God to take care of Saul in the end. He knew that Saul had spoiled his blessing. He felt bad for him. But there were new blessings on the horizon, and Samuel had to get over his fear of man and get going to get to them.
And from that son of Jesse, David, came my Hero- Jesus Christ. He was his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson (I think that's right) So I'm glad God got Samuel up and off with that heifer that day. The world was blessed and Samuel was not harmed.
But, for those faint-hearted Samuels out there (like me!) here's a word of encouragement, one that He has used to strengthen my heart.
"Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have my law in your hearts:
Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults."
Jehovah knows. He cannot lie. He cannot be lied to. It's ok. Just move right along. And if He tells you, take the heifer, chances are He wants to bless a lot of other folks too. :)