16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. ~I Samuel 12:16 ESV
Not in our power, but in God’s. Not by our wisdom, but by God’s. Not us. Only Him.
23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king. ~I Samuel 12:23-25 ESV
Reading the closing comments of many great leaders throughout the Old Testament and you find this common theme — Follow God only, and if you don’t you’ll by judged (with an often heavy emphasis on the judgment part).
Moses says it, here Samuel says it, and before God goes “silent” for 400 years Malachi pounds the message home again. Israel barely listens. Do we?
It’s not for lack of passion on the part of the leader. Moses gave the warning and taught them a song with the warning before he died, not stepping foot into the promised land. Samuel realizes the burden of the message and realizes it would be a sin not to pray for their success in following God. I’m not the priest for a nation, but I still bear this burden to pray for those that God has entrusted to me and requests He brings to my attention.
And, just minutes later, they prove the need for such prayer and reproof.
11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” ~I Samuel 13:11-12
In a pinch, we start looking around us. Looking at the trials, the enemies, the waves, the opposition. I resonate with the quote, “Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is.” When our view shifts from the awesome, faithful, sovereign, just, loving, and good God of the universe to the more visible, but far more insignificant problems of our daily life, we cloud our thinking.
Saul made the same mistake Uzzah did. Forgetting the clear commands of God and thinking God needs help or hurrying along. I admit it is terribly tempting at times, but both these decisions brought disastrous results — Uzzah’s death and Saul’s loss of the kingdom. This moment secured David’s role in the promised Messiah’s lineage.
9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ~I Corinthians 1:9
The New Testament renews this command with some beautiful promises — Jesus is our faithful mentor and advisor.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ~I Corinthians 1:18
Even when God’s way seems foolish, it is the right way. It is the best way. The world will look down on us for the inconvenient choices that we make, but it is the only way.
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ~I Corinthians 1:24-25 ESV
I can’t walk in my strength, it is nearly nothing. I must press on in my weakness, and that little portion of God’s strength that sustains me is far greater than the greatest, wisest, strongest man.