Sometimes God asks a question first to stimulate action or bust someone out of their rut. In 1 Samuel 16, after the story of Saul not obeying God and being rejected as Israel’s king, the Lord basically asks Samuel the priest/prophet/judge, “How long are you going to grieve over Saul? I’ve rejected him as king over Israel…Get going” (1 Samuel 16:1). I wonder how long Samuel had grieved. How long did God allow Samuel to wallow in his depression before He basically said, “Enough is enough. Let’s move on.”
Samuel was an old man at this point. He was old in chapter 8 when Israel started asking for a king. He was older still in chapters 9 & 10 when he anointed Saul as that king. In the 2 verse of Chapter 12, Samuel tells the people in his “last speech” he is old and gray and has adult sons. So by the time Saul has reigned as king long enough to have made God regret it, Samuel has lived a long time. He has lived long enough to have his own regrets. He had lived long enough to see the futility of not obeying God and trying to make up for it with sacrifices. He has also lived long enough to experience the benefit of trusting God and simply obeying Him; and this is his habit, his way of life.
So when God tells him to get going, Samuel’s question is similar to Mary’s, “How, God?” and states the obvious obstacle, “When Saul hears I’m anointing another king, he’s going to kill me.” God gives Samuel a plan: focus on Him and invite others to do the same through the offering of a sacrifice (worship). God lets Samuel know He will reveal more of His will while Samuel is in the process of obeying God. This plan also protects Samuel from Saul. Protection, provision, and guidance all come as a result of obeying God.
I think God does the same for us, and this challenges me. Could this mean that those times I am struggling to find God’s guidance and direction I have failed to be obedient to something He has already told me? Am I more like Saul, who did what he wanted and then tried to justify his actions by saying he was really doing them for God (1 Samuel 15: 19-21)? I hope not! I want to be more like Samuel whose habit was obedience to God even in the midst of difficult circumstances. In the midst of our obedience to Him, God protects, provides and guides. Sounds like a good plan to me.
How about you? How have you been more like Saul or Samuel?