What do you do really well? What do you not do well? If God promised to help you do what you are not good at – would you trust Him to do it?
God seems to enjoy asking us to do things we don’t think we can do. Sometimes we’re correct; we can’t do it on our own. God is teaching us that He will equip us to do whatever He asks us to do.
About 1000 years before Jesus was born, Samuel was a prophet. Many people looked to Samuel leadership because Israel didn’t have a king. God told Samuel to find a young man named Saul. Samuel was to tell Saul that he would be the first king of Israel! Then Samuel was to introduce King Saul to the rest of the country. Saul was God’s choice as king, and Samuel was God’s choice to make it happen.
Saul had a lot going for him. His family had a bit of money, and he was bigger and stronger than most people his age. He was a man of action. But Saul had a problem.
It was hard for Saul to trust God.
God wanted to set Saul up for success. God knew Saul could make a brilliant king if he would rely on Him. God, through Samuel, did a number of things in order to give Saul confidence in God. Here is what happened on the day Samuel told Saul he would be king:
1. Samuel poured oil over Saul’s head. Saul knew this meant God had selected him for special service, and the Spirit of God would assist him.
2. Samuel told Saul “God has appointed you to be king over Israel!”
3. Samuel told Saul he would meet two people later that day in Zelzah. He even told Saul what those two people would say!
4. Then Samuel told Saul that he would later meet three men who would be on their way to Bethel. They would have bread, wine, and goats. He also said they would offer him the bread and he should take it.
5. Finally, Samuel told Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come on him at a place called Gibeh, where he should wait for a week for further instructions. Samuel told Saul what was going to happen before any of it happened. How cool is that?
ALL those things happened that same day – precisely as Samuel said they would! If that happened to you, would you trust Samuel? Would you trust God?
Have you ever played “Hide and Seek?” Do you have a favorite hiding place?
Later Samuel called all Israel to meet together at Mizpah. The news quickly spread that God had picked Israel’s first king. People from all over traveled to see who it would be. They packed up their wagons and animals and traveled to Mizpah. Once there, they unloaded their wagons, found a place to sleep, and waited for the big announcement.
Samuel got in front of everyone and announced, “God picked the first King of Israel! His name is Saul, son of Kish! Saul, come out!”
The people cheered – they clapped, shouted, waved, and waited to see Saul. But Saul had disappeared! The clapping died down. Everybody was waiting. Awkward!
“HEY SAUL, WHERE ARE YOU?”
Samuel asked God, “Where is Saul?” God answered, “Hiding among the baggage!” The great king Saul was hiding in a suitcase on his first day on the job!
Saul knew he didn’t have the ability to be king. Trusting in his own abilities, he was overwhelmed – so he hid. Saul didn’t understand that whatever God calls us to do; He will equip us to do. Saul was still having a difficult time trusting God.
Saul became king in spite of his hiding. As Saul learned to rely on God, he became a better king. He ruled with wisdom, success, and insight – for a time.
Things were going so well that Saul started making decisions on his own.
Have you ever disobeyed your parents because you thought, “Even if I get caught, it’s worth it. They will forgive me anyway?”
God told Saul, through Samuel, to go to war against some particularly wicked people. He was told to destroy everything. God knew that keeping what the wicked people owned would cause problems later. Saul didn’t do what God asked.
Once Saul and his army won the battle, the soldiers wanted to keep some of the stuff for themselves. “Why destroy it?” they asked. “This is good stuff! Let us keep it!” Saul said to himself, “Self,” he said, “I can’t control this entire army. There are 210,000 soldiers of Israel here. I’m just one guy. I’ll let them keep what they want and hope God doesn’t notice. It’s easier to be forgiven by God than to obey Him. I’ll even keep some of the animals to give as a sacrifice to God. Surely then He will understand.” [1 Samuel 15:24]
Saul and his army disobeyed the command of God and kept the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, horses – they kept the best of everything they saw. They only destroyed what seemed worthless to them. [Maybe they kept the best clothes, tents, and jewelry too. If this were happening today, what would you be tempted to keep?]
Have you ever changed your mind? What about?
Because of Saul’s sin, God rejected him as king. 1 Samuel 15:11 says the Lord told Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” [NLT] Does this mean God changed His mind?
Psalms 102:26-27 teaches that God is changeless and perfect. Therefore, it is impossible for God to change His mind. So why was God sorry He made Saul king?
Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us that God knows everything. We can’t give God a surprise birthday party because He always knows what will happen next! Matthew 10:29 says He even knows when a bird dies. So why would God choose Saul to be king if He knew Saul would mess up?
When God said He was sorry He made Saul king, God wasn’t saying He made a mistake. He was explaining His actions in a way we could understand. God often uses human illustrations to explain what He is doing.
[The fancy word for this figure of speech is “Anthropopathism.” It means to ascribe human feelings to something that isn’t human. One example of this is 2 Chronicles 16:9 which says, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (NIV) Can you imagine two eyeballs floating around the planet like space ships looking for devoted followers? It’s an illustration showing us how God is always looking to strengthen His followers. Also see God’s wings in Ruth 2:12, His hand in Ecclesiastes 2:24, etc.]
God knew Saul could follow Him and become a great king. It was Saul’s choice to follow or not. God was “sorry” means God was sorry because Saul didn’t follow Him. Maybe this story will help.
For a moment, pretend your mom can look ahead in time. She sees that tomorrow you will be playing in the street and a car will narrowly miss hitting you. Today she tells you not to play in the street – ever. She tells you again when you get up the next morning. “DO NOT PLAY IN THE STREET!”
Later that day you disobey your mom and play in the street. Yesterday your mom saw you would do it.
Did your mom want you to play in the street? No way, she told you not to! Did she make you play in the street? No, it was entirely your choice. Just because she saw you would make a bad choice doesn’t mean she forced you to do it. In fact telling you not to do it is proof she didn’t want you in the street at all. She did everything she could to help you do what was right. She could then say she was “sorry” you played in the street.
It’s not God who changed in this story, but Saul. God wanted Saul to succeed. Even though God could see ahead in time and knew Saul would mess up, He still gave Saul the chance to do what was right. Saul stopped following God; therefore, God was sorry He made Saul king.
SO, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
STAY COMMITTED TO CHRIST
God wants you to succeed. He will never ask you to do what He will not equip you to do. God is searching the earth to support those who are fully committed to Him. Stay committed to Christ, and He will help, strengthen, and reward you! “May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” [Hebrews 13:21]
REMEMBER: YOU’VE GOT HIS WORD ON IT
2 Chronicles 16:9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
Ruth 2:12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
Psalms 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Psalms 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
Psalms 130:5-6 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
Galatians 6:9 Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.