This morning I started laughing when I read 1 Samuel 16:1. The Lord says to Samuel “How long will you mourn for Saul when I have rejected him as King? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way.” I laughed because I could almost see God impatiently rolling his eyes at Samuel’s pity party and saying “Come on man, get over it – we’ve got work to do!”
I can just see Samuel slumped in the corner, depressed because of Saul’s sin, replaying over and over in his mind the events of the day Samuel heard God say “This is the man that will govern My people.”
Samuel was there when Saul was a nobody – Saul even admitted he was a nobody and God made him King. He gave Saul every blessing and every opportunity and every tool to be a successful leader. He even said ” “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power…and you will be changed into a different person…once this happens, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” It’s a blank check from God. How could Saul possibly screw this up?
I’m sure Samuel’s heart was full of hope as he along with everyone else anticipated the changes that handsome, strong and capable Saul would bring to Israel. Not anymore. Now his heart knew what his mind refused to accept – Saul failed. He disobeyed God and God removed his favor and chose another leader – “a man after His own heart.” I wonder how long Samuel sat in that state of depression before God finally interrupted his pity party and said “Snap out of it!”?
It’s a great comfort to me to believe that God never gives up on me, that He is long-suffering and that because of His great love, I will never be rejected. Yet, here I see a mystery that I can’t wrap my mind around. God doesn’t waste any time mourning Saul. God is so comfortable with our free will. He knew the exact moment Saul’s heart turned from away from Him, the exact moment that Saul turned his back on his job.
How can God have so much peace when someone rejects Him? How can God partner with someone, lay it all on the line for that person and then be so secure when it doesn’t work out? I am so like Samuel in this. I get hung up in the shoulda, woulda, coulda of the relationships in life that haven’t gone the way I hoped. My heart strings and expectations get wrapped up in a person and when they rejected me, I fall apart, I get angry, I micro-analyze every aspect of the events leading up to it and I just want to know why. Surely if I know why we can work it out and salvage the relationship. I have no peace in rejection and failure so I can’t understand how God who is love can just say “OK, I respect your decision, goodbye now”.
In Saul’s case God partnered with him for a specific purpose – the leadership of His people. God is a good Father. He protects his children. As a parent, it is easy to understand why God would put the needs of His children above the position of a single individual. I can see that a good father would only want to entrust someone with “a heart like His” to a position of protection and leadership over His children. And I can see why God would remove that person when His children’s safety is on the line. David understood too. He said, “The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.” Psalm 125:3 David understood that somehow in order for the righteous to stay on course and their activities to remain pure, they needed a righteous leader.
It’s a sobering thought to realize that while I will never be separated from God’s love, I can be separated from my position. God called me to partner with Him for a purpose. He gave me a portion to rule over and all the tools to succeed. He expects increase and growth. Not only that, but I have a privilege and a responsibility to pursue and understand His heart. His favor will be removed if I reject my responsibilities and endanger those He’s called me to serve and protect. He will not hesitate to take my portion and give it to someone else who does understand His heart and will be a good steward. Wow!
It’s comforting to realize that God my father is so committed to His children’s care. It makes me rethink the way I pray for leadership – all leadership. To question whether or not I’m in mourning and angry for what should have been instead of getting on board with His plan for the next leader, the leader who has a heart like His and can help His people thrive. What an amazing King David was. How foolish in retrospect of Samuel to be crying for Saul when David was coming!! Lord give us a heart like Yours to steward what you have given us. Give us the courage to snap out of it when you remove one leader and get on board with your plan for the next leader.