Trusting Gods Timing.(Rolly Stahl)

IWVLC Worship Series: A Person after God’s Heart (David)                                                Pr Rolly Stahl 28.6.2009

#3.Trusting God’s Timing

                                                                                             1 Sam 18:6-16,       1 Sam 24:1-12,       1 Sam 26:1-12300px-Wall_clock

We’re in week 3 of our current series: A Person after God’s Heart, where we’re following how David went from shepherd boy to king. In week one, we marveled at God’s surprising choice to make David king.  The Lord told Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse as a successor to the blatantly disobedient King Saul.  God chose the youngest of 8 sons, a shepherd boy named David.  Although the “runt” of his family, when God looked into David’s soul, he found a person after His own heart. Last week, we recalled the story of David and Goliath – how God gives us HIS courage to face the giants and his authority to overcome them.  Today we explore David’s long wait to become king. 

 You’re probably aware of the practical joke played on office juniors. A senior sends them up the street to a certain place for “a long wait”. On arriving, they’re asked to take a seat.  Once they’ve had a long wait, they’re sent back to the office.

 Discuss:  What happens inside us when we have to wait for a long time?

I think there are basically 2 dysfunctional ways of handling those long waits.

   Frustration/Anger/Explosion 
                     OR  
   Resignation/Depression/Implosion. 

One of the Proverbs picks up on the inner turmoil of waiting:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov 13:12 NRSV) 

David’s Long Wait

After his anointing by Samuel, David didn’t become king next day, next week, next month, or next year. Soon after, an opportunity came for David to play his harp to soothe Saul’s troubled soul.  As we mentioned a couple weeks ago:

David initially comes into Saul’s service as a musical therapist, but also became one of his armor-bearers.  In this capacity, David can learn how the king’s court functions, who the main players are, about statesmanship and diplomacy, about battle strategies and war.  It’s like an apprenticeship where David is learning wisdom and skills for when he will one day come to the throne.  

For several years, David worked for king Saul.  Initially Saul was fond of David.  But following David’s victory over Goliath, Saul’s attitude changed dramatically: 

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.  As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”  Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”  And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. (1 Sam 18:6-9 NIV)

Saul’s jealousy led to repeated attempts to murder David:  The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand  and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had left Saul.  (1 Sam 18:10-12 NIV)

When that failed, Saul sent David on military campaigns hoping that David would be smitten in battle – but to no avail.  Instead, David’s success and popularity only increased:  In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.  When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.   But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns. (1 Sam 18:14-16 NIV) 

With Saul’s paranoia going through the roof, he intensified his efforts to assassinate David.  As a result, David becomes a fugitive on the run.  Saul has his army and spies out everywhere looking for David, chasing him from town to town, and throughout the wilderness where David and his supporters would hide out in caves. 

Imagine David’s dilemma: “What’s the LORD got me into?  What have I done wrong to deserve this?  Why on earth did God choose me to be his king, when trouble follows me like a bad smell?  How long O LORD will I have to put up with this?  How much longer will Saul keep trying to kill me?  How much longer before I can have peace?  How much longer before God enables me to become king?” 

Wrestling with questions like these in the midst of a long wait, two equally damaging temptations can confront us:

1. One temptation is to forsake the dream that God has put on your heart – and settle for something that is bland and unsatisfying.  Like settling in a job you loathe because you don’t have the confidence or courage or discipline to pursue your passion.  Or like marrying a person you don’t even like or love just to avoid being alone. 

2. Another temptation is to take the law into your own hands, and manipulate people and events in ungodly ways to get your own way.  We see this when people impose their will on others; and then get angry when others say: “No!”  Bullying, control, lying, deceit, blame, anger, murder – these are examples of bad fruit when someone tries to be “god” over others.  There’s no grace in that.  No love in that.  No kindness, no mercy, no freedom. Only using and abusing others to get one’s own way.  

David’s shows us a better way: tell God all about it (for many examples read the psalms of David), trust God with it, and let God bring about the outcome.

While we’re uncertain of the exact time frame, scholars estimate that it was 15 years between David’s anointing by Samuel and his coming to the throne as king![1]  David had to wait 15 years for God to finally remove Saul. And that meant putting up with maybe 10 years of persecution at the hands of his predecessor!

David’s Opportunities to Kill Saul

While waiting and running for his life from Saul, there were two occasions in the wilderness years when David could have killed Saul (1 Sam 24 & 26), and taken the throne by force.  The first time, Saul goes into a cave to relieve himself.  He doesn’t know that David and his men are hiding deep down in the back of the cave.  David’s men urge him to kill Saul, but David refuses.  Instead he cuts off a piece of Saul’s coat.  But then David is conscience stricken: He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”  With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. (1 Sam 24:6-7 NIV)   

In the dialogue that follows, David tells Saul, May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. (1 Sam 24:12 NIV) 

The second time, David and a mate take Saul’s spear and jug while the army are sleeping out in the field!  David’s offsider, Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won’t strike him twice.”  But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.  But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” (1 Sam 26:8-11 NIV)

And again David assures Saul that he will do him no harm: “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”   (1 Sam 26:23-24 NIV) 

Trusting God’s Timing

David renounces the desire to get even – or to take the throne by force… even when he had opportunities to do so.  David knew that those who grasp for power are least qualified to use it. Instead David left his times and seasons in God’s hands, trusting God for the outcomes.[2]  David trusted that God knew the “big picture” for his life, and would work out the right time when Saul would go … and David would become king!  15 years is a long apprenticeship, but when David became king of Israel, he was READY!  Once David became king, he ruled for 40 years! 

Friends, rather than manipulating people or events – and/or stressing out when things don’t go our way – like David, we too can trust God’s timing.  The point is not to be in too big a rush to get where God wants to take us.   That’s not easy for us Westerners who are so used to instant gratification that we carry on like pork chops when it doesn’t happen!!! 

Friends, God’s seasons are for good reasons.  Some of you have a calling from God that you are well aware of – but it hasn’t yet come to pass.  As a result, you might be confused or frustrated; or wondering when it’s going to happen.  In God’s good time.  Don’t despise the season you are in.  It’s part of the Lord’s training for fulfilling your destiny.  God is growing your character, stretching your skills, and most importantly deepening your dependence on HIM. 

Friends, what are you waiting for??  I urge and encourage you in the LORD: Don’t waste the season you’re in by moping and whining while waiting for the next season to come round. You can grow; or you can stagnate.  Your choice!  What can you learn?  Why not do a course, join a small group, try something new?  Seek after God and ask him to grow you into a person after his own heart.  Get into the discipline of feeding on God’s Word.  Do a David, tell God all that’s on your heart and mind. If you’re carrying afflictions or addictions, seek wise Christian counseling.

Some of you know from experience that it’s not good to be alone, but you haven’t yet met the right person.  You wonder what’s happening.  You tell God about it, but seem to get no reply.  What’s going on with all that?  Is it just possible that God is getting you ready?  Or that God is getting the other person ready?  If both of you are NOT ready, it’s like trying to eat a cake before it’s cooked in the oven – it will all be ruined!  If marriage is part of God’s will for your life, when BOTH of you ARE ready, God will bring it to pass.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…   (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)  In the Bible, there are 2 ways of talking about time. Chronos time is where we get the word “chronology”.  It’s the days, months, years, decades, centuries between events.  Kairos time is the right time or season for something to happen.  Like for grain to ripen, it needs the heat of summer at just the right time.  Like when Paul writes of the coming of Jesus for us: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:4-6 NRSV)  Kairos time is the right time for God’s purposes to happen!

Part of the art of living well is to embrace and enjoy each season as it unfolds – and not adopting the “When and Then” mantle of misery: “When I graduate then I’ll be happy! When I get that car then I’ll be happy.  When I marry and have children, then I’ll be happy.  When the children leave home, then I’ll be happy.  When I get that promotion, then I’ll be happy.  When I’ve been overseas, then I’ll be happy.  When I retire then I’ll be happy.” Contentment is relaxing into each season as God’s gift, sucking the marrow out of it, living relationally well through it, and then being ready for when God says it’s time for the next season to unfold.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11 NIV)  God knows what’s ahead for you – so enjoy the season you’re in on the way to where he’s taking you. And whenever you’re faced with a long wait, or a tough season, remember:

God is always on time, he is never late.

Sometimes it takes God a long time to move quickly.

 


[1] Cf the chronology of my 1985 NIV Study Bible, p.373. The following suggested years are BC:  1080? Saul born.  1050 Saul anointed to be king (1 Sa 10:1).  1040 David born.  1025 David anointed to be Saul’s successor (1 Sa 16).  1010 Death of Saul, & start of David’s reign in Hebron (2 Sa 1:1, 2:1-11).  970 Death of David (2 Sa 5:4-5)

[2]  As in the Psalms: No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man.  But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.  (Ps 75:6-7 NIV)

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