Expectations & Hopes Meditations: 17. The Waiting Game
1 Sam 16:1b Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
Yesterday we saw Samuel in this same chapter being obedient to the word in our verse above, but that was all about Samuel’s expectations. Now we move on to the expectations that David must have had, and how they worked out.
The Present: First of all, observe the present circumstances. The Lord has referred to a new king in the verses above. When David appears, “the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” (v.12) i.e. there is no question but that Samuel is anointing David to be the new king: “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.” (v.13) Now there is a question mark over the record: did Samuel make clear to David that this is what he was doing? He does not say it in the record. Sometime later when David fled to the Philistines we read, “the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” (1 Sam 21:11a) but that was only because of what they heard had been said in Israel: “Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ” `Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” (v.11b) Similarly, later still, Jonathan said to David, “Don’t be afraid, My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” (23:17) but again that was possibly not because of what happened at Bethlehem, but simply because of his rise to fame. It is probable that Samuel would have said something to David but it is not made public and David, in his humility, does not refer to it.
The Future: So let’s summarise what went on in the following months and years:
- David carries on looking after his father’s sheep.
- Because of Saul’s need, David enters his service to play the harp and be a part-time armour bearer for Saul (1 Sam 16:14-23).
- Nevertheless David still looked after his father’s sheep (17:15), eventually killed Goliath (and we’ll consider that tomorrow) (17:48-51), stayed with Jonathan (18:1,2) and entered Saul’s army (18:5) and was so successful that it started making Saul hate him (18:6-9).
- Twice Saul sought to kill David while he was with him (18:10,11 & 19:9,10).
- When Saul gives the instruction that David is to be killed (19:1) David eventually flees and leaves the army and fled to the Philistines (21:10) at Gath.
- He leaves Gath and settles in Adullam (22:1) and collects a mini-army of followers (22:2) and carried our guerilla warfare against the Philistines (23:1-5).
- Twice Saul came after him and his men and twice David refused to take the opportunity to kill Saul (24:3-22 & 26:1-25).
- David escapes to the Philistines for protection from Saul and joins them (27:1-6) but carried on his guerilla tactics against the enemies of Israel (27:8-12).
- Eventually Saul is killed in a battle with the Philistines (31:1-).
- David is made king over Judah (2 Sam 2:1-4) and reigned there for seven and a half years until all Israel made him king (2 Sam 5:1-5).
Israel’s Expectation: It is only then that there is any reference to any prophetic words: “In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, `You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’ “ (2 Sam 5:2) but one wonders if that refers back to a word spoken by Samuel to Saul which was public, when he rebuked him: “But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command,” (13:14) or whether more had been said and it had got out when Samuel had anointed him.
The Time Factor: The main point here, which we would do well to learn, is that between the time of being anointed, and possibly having a prophetic word spoken over him, to the time when he eventually became king over all Israel, many things happened, many of them not good. We’ve seen that before in the case of Joseph and it frequently happens with us. We need to distinguish between prophetic words that are time-specific, e.g. “This time next year you will have a baby,” and the more general ones such as, “the Lord is giving you a ministry of leadership where you will be known for your perseverance and strength of character.” That latter sort are the ones that involve process. How do you learn to persevere? You are given tough, slow, difficult circumstances! How do you develop strength of character? Time and trials and tribulations!
Changing Lives: The Lord uses the experiences of this fallen world to develop us. When the apostle Peter said, “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love,” (2 Pet 1:5-7) he was inviting our cooperation in these things. To achieve that list you need time and change – your change! And that change comes about as you cope with life in this fallen world. The end result? You are anointed, filled with the Spirit, and with the character of Jesus, and you are a blessing to the world, just like the Lord intended. The ways of the fallen world surround us and hinder our lives and are there for us to deal with by His grace, so we might as well let them change us, knock off the rough corners and so on, and make us more usable!
I drive a nail in my own coffin, if I may put it like that, when I pray every day, ‘Please Lord use me,” because I know His word indicates that those He loves He disciplines (Heb 12:6) which means trains and transforms and that is what this is all about. He loves us just as we are but He loves us so much He wants something better for us than we have at the present, and that means us being changed, and change means process and process means time. He will be there with us every moment, and His grace will be available for us, but it is still a process of change.
The Future Goal: If you think it is tough sometimes, then look past the present to what He is achieving through this: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) There it is; Jesus looked past the Cross to the joy beyond it, to the wonder of the kingdom being established and millions being set free and brought into the divine family. Look past the present process and know it is going somewhere and that ‘somewhere’ is glorious, even here on this earth! Hallelujah!