Do you ever find yourself panicking? I think if we stop and look at our lives and our day to day there is a lot that we can get worked up about. Even if your day is going great, sometimes it seems like all it takes is one person to do something, one unexpected bill to come in or one phone call to throw us into a state of panic. I remember there was a situation that I was in with someone, everything was moving along nicely when all of a sudden someone else started causing trouble in the situation and the person I was working with started to panic. I know that I ultimately made the decision, but their panic caused us to move forward with something that looking back was the wrong move to make. When emotions run high and panic sets in, it takes our focus completely off of anything else but the negative things that are causing the panic in the first place. When that happens, we’re bound to make choices that aren’t great.
In 1st Samuel 13 we see this exact scenario play out. We have King Saul, at this point in his life God has been with him, God had given him victories and had set him up as king over Israel. However, because of those victories Israel’s long time enemies, the Philistines, hated them more then ever. The bible talks about how they (the Philistines) mustered up an army with as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore. Saul’s army fell under fear, it goes on to talk about how they trembled with fear and how over time Sauls army began to decrease in numbers as people deserted their post. Saul is looking around, he knows about the army, he sees his army terrified and he watches how day after day his army is getting smaller and smaller. Panic sets in, so Saul does what we do when panic hits us, he took matters into his own hands and did what he could do instead of what God instructed him to do. He was instructed to wait until the prophet Samuel got there, but instead he decided to sacrifice burnt offerings himself. Contrary to the will and purpose of God. The interesting thing is, just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel shows up. In verse 13 Samuel says to Saul, “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
There’s a few things that I want to talk about when it comes to this passage. The first thing is notice how when panic sets in Saul takes matters into his own hands. Panic, will prevent you from seeing the whole picture, and if successful it will get you focused on the situation at hand and make it bigger then anything else including God’s will. Panic takes your situation and makes it the only thing you can focus on or see. The second thing is just when Saul was done sacrificing the burnt offerings Samuel showed up. God is always good to show up, but rarely will it line up with your timeline. Just because you don’t see the provision or the hand of God in your current situation, as long as you are in His will, help is on it’s way and will arrive at the perfect time. Notice at the end, God rejects King Saul for doing something that seems right. Saul is not giving up or turning away. He didn’t side with any false god’s or do any obvious sin. He responds out of desperation and panic, and decides that his way is better then God’s way and tries to force God’s hand.
Let me encourage you, we don’t have armies coming against us, but we do have pressures, we have circumstances that come out of seemingly nowhere. Because of that there are going to be times where you are tempted to panic, but take heart, nothing is a surprise to God. Just a few pages later in the bible the man that replaces Saul, David, is faced with a situation far worse, everyone he loves has been taken, his village destroyed, and his own men want to kill him. But the bible says that David strengthened himself in the Lord and inquired what to do. Because of the way he handled that situation, he was able to get back all that was stolen from him as well as much more. In the story with Saul, Samuel says, “Had you kept it (the Lords instructions) The Lord would of established your kingdom.” With that in mind, learn from Saul and don’t make the same mistake. Difficult situations are inevitable, however how you handle them will determine where you end up in life. Remember who is for you, know that He sees everything and victory is always on the way as long as we hold fast to the words and instructions of God.