I am a rule follower. My biggest pet peeves are non-compact cars parked in compact spots, and people not signing up for their machines at the gym. As I sit here writing this I can see that these are very silly reasons to get angry, but these two things can get me downright heated. I never actually confront these rule-breakers, but I give a glare to the monster truck in the compact spot when I walk by, and roll my eyes pretty well when I sign up for a machine and look up to see it’s already been taken at the gym. If I really think about it, nothing catastrophic happens when these rules are broken, but it irks me nonetheless.
Another way this plays out in my life is that I get frustrated and hurt when someone breaks the rules and there are seemingly no consequences. They just go on with their lives as if nothing has happened, and I want to shout “But guys they’re breaking the rules!” I never do any of the shouting, but I definitely rant and rave to close friends via text message, or my husband in our home (sorry guys). Sometimes this rule breaking doesn’t even affect me, but I am still frustrated by the perceived injustice.
Because of this feature of my personality some stories in the Bible really get me flustered. I know in my mind the prodigal son is a story of redemption, and God’s love and mercy for us, but I also want that son to be punished for breaking his family’s rules. I really don’t appreciate how much the Israelites break the rules in multiple instances for years and years; God has mercy on them every time! I know that David was told by God not to kill Saul, but goodness gracious Saul was breaking so many rules (his own promises included), so didn’t he deserve to be attacked when David clearly had the chance? And more than that, didn’t David deserve success instead of all the cave-hiding he was doing? And why did God present these opportunities and expect David not to act? Did God forget he had anointed him?
I especially love in the chapters we read this week that nestled in between two stories where there is seemingly no justice for David, there is the story of Nabal and Abigail. The story of Nabal makes me feel like God is bestowing the correct judgment on someone who did wrong. It reminds me that God does know what’s going on, and does have justice in mind. It validates my feelings of the right person succeeding, and the wrong person getting their punishment.
Nabal is a “surly and mean” wealthy owner of many sheep. When David and his men were around Nabal and his sheep they protected them. Nothing bad ever happened to any of Nabal’s men or sheep when David’s men were around. It is sheep-shearing time, which in bible times is a par-tay, and David sends his men to hang out and be treated well. Nabal pretends he doesn’t know who they are, and sends them back. David is very offended by this rudeness, and they decide to go annihilate Nabal and his men. Luckily for Nabal he has a righteous wife who comes out and begs David to spare Nabal and his men. Abigail makes some good points, so David decides to let it go. The rule-follower in me is like “ugh guys, Nabal was super rude, he needs punishment!”
The very next day Abigail tells her husband what happens, and his heart fails him, and ten days later he drops dead. Justice is served! Nabal does wrong, and is punished by God, and yet, Saul continues to do wrong, and get away with it. Now I know Saul was tormented by an evil spirit who was making him do these things, and I know it’s all part of God’s plan, but ugh! Each time David spares Saul’s life, Saul promises to stop chasing him; he breaks this promise every time. Sometimes in life the wrong people succeed, and the right people are punished, but we still have to trust that God knows best.
The Lord anointed David, he has given him success, but in this one area of his life, staying alive, he is having to fight so hard. He is given opportunities to right this wrong, but God is saying wait. In the end, David succeeds, becomes king and does cool things, but Saul never quite gets his end in the way I’d prefer. His descendants bear the brunt of his wrongdoing, but seriously, where’s his justice?
God’s timing, God’s justice, God’s love, and God’s mercy are very, very different than ours. When I see wrong, I want it righted immediately. When I see hurting people, I want it fixed. When I see people doing bad things, I want consequences. This is not always how God works. God operates on a completely different time scale than us, and he knows every detail, every small piece of the greater story. He knows better than I do, and David acknowledges this by following Him, even when it seems ludicrous.
“As surely as the Lord lives the Lord himself will strike him, or 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…” 1 Samuel 26:10-11
I can see myself in David here, reaching for the possible punishments God could enact on Saul. Like “Hey God maybe you can strike him, or maybe he’ll just die, or possibly you could send him into battle and he’ll die?” But then David acquiesces to the Lord every time: …”but I know I’m not supposed to kill him right now.” How excruciating must it have been for David to have the possibility of his dream realized standing in front of him for the taking, and have to walk away? David knew that even though Saul was a bad guy, only God knew when it was time for him to be gone. David knew that he had to wait. David knew that God knew better than he did. And I need to rest in this knowledge today; we all do.
How can you, today, let go of your own plan for your life and let God have the reins? How can you let go of the consequences you think others deserve and let God take care of it? And ultimately, can you trust that God loves you enough to know what’s best for you and your life? Ask God today to help you let go and let him do his work. I promise you that it will be a better plan than anything you could have imagined.
Week 5: 1 Samuel 31-2 Samuel 4
- It has been nearly 15 years since David was anointed by Samuel, and now his predecessor is dead. Have you ever had to wait for something?
- Think of a time when God called you to something, but then you had to wait for it to happen.
- What is the hardest part about waiting?