Faith under pressure…

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1 Samuel 13:5 The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns… 8 (King Saul) waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel (the prophet of God); but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of the LORD’; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which he commanded you. The LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, 14 but now your kingdom will not continue; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart; and the LORD has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

Dang. Saul was just getting started as king yet we’re told in the passage above he was effectively done. And, as we know, the future king described but not yet named was David, Saul’s servant and slayer of Goliath the giant. Two things interest me here.

First, the prophet Samuel tells Saul that the Lord has chosen another to be king, but it would be many years before the change in leadership actually took place. In ancient Jewish culture 30 years was the age in which a man could assume a leadership role in Israel. I suppose one possible reason the Lord waited so long to depose Saul was to give David time to reach 30 years of age. Or maybe there was another reason. I’m not sure.

Second, it’s easy to be critical of Saul who caved under pressure, but I understand the impulse to act instead of wait. This might be one of the most difficult challenges we face as leaders – to keep our heads when those around us are losing theirs. To trust God despite what our eyes are telling us about our situation.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to act or when it’s time to wait. It’s at times like these that I tend to lean on a few spiritually mature friends/colleagues to help in making important decisions. It’s easy to make poor decisions when making them alone. It’s much more difficult when 3-4 people consider a challenge together, particularly when we agree to pray together about the situation.

So this morning I’m asking for wisdom and guidance from the Lord, and openness to invite others into the decision-making circle with me. Lord, let it be so. Amen.

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