Have you ever been on a mission for God and things didn’t turn out as you thought they should? That’s what happened to Samuel. Everything was on track. But everything changed when King Saul decided to disobey God’s commands.
1 Samuel 16:1 And the Lord said unto Samuel, “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.”
Samuel was the prophet of the Lord in Israel at this time. If you remember, his mom, Hannah, was barren. She pleaded for a son, and God granted her wishes. She promised to dedicate Samuel to the Lord and dropped him off with Eli the priest at the House of the Lord to be raised in service to God. Samuel’s life was dedicated to God. This prophet of the Lord anointed Saul as king over Israel. God used Samuel to guide Israel in battle and in judgment.
He was King Saul’s advisor. Samuel heard from the Lord at a time when no one else could.
Samuel told King Saul, the Lord said to completely destroy the Amalekites and everything they had. Saul’s army decided to save out the good oxen and sheep to “sacrifice to the Lord.” The thing sounded good to the King, so he didn’t stop them, he feared the people’s opinion of him. Saul also saved out the king of the Amalekites, Agag, and took him back with him. They came home victorious from the battle and happy. That is until Samuel the prophet shows up and asks why he hears bleating from the cattle and sheep. His famous line today is this: “To obey is better than sacrifice…” He simply stated that the Lord desired obedience not a sacrifice to Him. The Lord is always going to honor obedience to His wishes, commands, or Word over something that sounds good. Good is the enemy of best. The king confesses to Samuel that he feared the people which is why they brought back the animals. The king tries at first to blame his people, then he concedes that he did the wrong thing and begs mercy from Samuel. In a desperate reaction, he rips Samuel’s garment and Samuel tells him his kingdom is torn from him like this garment. The king then asks to worship God with Samuel. It is after this that Samuel requests to have the captured King Agag brought to him. Samuel takes it upon himself to slaughter this wicked king before all the people and before King Saul.
If a key person in your life has messed up and let you down as King Saul (who was disobedient to the One True Living God), did to Samuel and left you in a pickle, then you had to go in and clean up their mess, this counts as a loss! This thing needs to be mourned! This person, whether a king, your father, husband, son, brother, or so on (This could be anyone you put your trust in), had let you down and many others in the process, and they left you in a pickle to deal with, this is a type of death that needs to be mourned for a time.
God allowed Samuel to mourn the loss of Saul as King for an unspecified time. Then God drew close to Samuel and asked this question: “How long will you mourn for Saul…?” Then God gave Samuel an important task to do. The next thing was to anoint a new king. God was already on the next part of the journey.
The Lord had allowed the people to choose the first king of Israel according to the outward appearance of the person they thought they wanted to be king. God had Saul find Samuel and Samuel anointed him. It is mentioned this guy, Saul, was a goodly man, who stood head and shoulders over the people and was good-looking. This is exactly what the people wanted for their king. God put his spirit in him. He was a good king that won many battles with Samuel’s advice from the Lord. But this king, chosen according to what the people wanted in their hearts, had let it go to his head. His downfall was he feared the people more than he feared God.
Then God repented of making Saul, king. And the Lord chose a man after His own heart to take this man’s place. The people chose Saul as their king, and Saul failed to obey the commands of the Lord, now God made His choice. He sent Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse. After seven sons passed before Samuel, God rejected all of them because He could see into each one of their hearts. Samuel asked if there are any more sons. All seven looked good and smelled good because they had been sanctified, washed, and prepared themselves before the sacrifice ritual with Samuel. But God chose David who wasn’t at the sacrifice, a short shepherd boy, who was stinky from being out with the sheep, and ruddy, which means red of hair or complexion, “…and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.” 1 Samuel 16:12 And Samuel anointed him, king. God had a plan for a great king to lead Israel and it was David.
When God asked Samuel, “how long will you mourn for Saul?...” God had a plan that started at the beginning of time, even before The Fall of Man: David would be king and Samuel would anoint him. The Lord allowed Saul to continue as king of Israel until his death because David needed to be prepared to be king. God used the time in between his anointing and when David was crowned king as a proving ground for his time in office.
This story is an excellent example in that we think we know what we want, we go for it, and God has another better plan. He lets us decide our path because He knows we will learn from our choices. He lets our choice be played out, then He says “How long will you mourn the loss of your plan? Your choice? Your perfect dream? Listen to Me, I have something better for you. I have a man after my own heart ready in the waiting to fill in where your “dream” left off.”
How long will you mourn the dream that disappointed you? How long will you sit there in the ashes of that bomb that went off? How long will you look back at the past, instead of forward with hope, where the Lord is, and notice He already has a plan for your future in place?
by Monica DuBois (c) copyright September 26, 2022