In 1 Samuel 9-13 we read about a man called Saul who was handpicked by God to be the first king of Israel. Here's what we know about Saul:
✅He was young (9:2)
✅He was handsome (9:2)
✅He was a foot taller than anyone else (9:2)
✅He was God's solution to people's pain (9:16)
✅He was the hope of the people (9:20)
✅He had prophets sent by God to serve him (9:27)
✅He was anointed (10:1)
✅He was appointed (10:1)
✅He was prophetic (10:6)
✅He had the Spirt of the Lord come powerfully upon him (10:6)
✅He saw prophetic words fulfilled immediately (10:9)
✅He had admirers (10:24)
✅He had followers (10:26)
✅He could unite people as one (11:7)
✅He had great leadership gifting (11:8)
✅He was strategic (11:11)
✅He was victorious in battle (11:11)
✅He was celebrated (11:15)
❌His life was a failure (13:14)
What a man!! How did someone like this fail?? If someone like this can fail what chance do we have??
The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.1 Samuel v5,7b,8
1. The test of delay
Samuel the prophet had told Saul that he would show up in seven days. However, Samuel didn't show up on time. Have you ever faced a delay on something you were so sure was going to show up on time?
2. The test of silence
Samuel the prophet didn't show up on time. Why was there no communication? Why didn't Saul get a word from Samuel to let him know everything's under control. To let him know not to take things into his own hands. Have you ever faced silence on a situation you wish God would speak on?
3. The test of loss
The people who were with Saul began to scatter. The loss of friendships. The loss of community. The loss of certainty. The loss of releasing who you once were. The loss of traditions you loved. The loss of a dream. The loss of a plan. The loss of someone close.
4. The test of war
Saul was up against "soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore". A battle that's too big for him to fight. An obstacle for which there is no apparent solution. An enemy that is mightier than what can be handled. The exhaustion of always having to fight.
“What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:11-14
When Saul faced silence, delay, loss and war - "he felt compelled to offer the burnt offering" because he wanted to "seek favour from the Lord". There it is right there! That's the trap! When we face silence, delay, loss and war, the enemy will make us believe we are no longer favoured. So we then introduce practices into our lives in order the get the favour back. When our revelation of favour is diminished through pain, striving and sacrifice are introduced in order to win the favour of God. That's the trap!
The good news
Here's the good news. We will not fail. Why? Because we are not "favour hunters" in times of war, silence, delay and loss. There isn't any striving or sacrifice that's going to add any more favour than we already have.
"When sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices." Hebrews 10:18
The presence of delay is not the absence of favour.
The presence of silence is not the absence of favour.
The presence of loss is not the absence of favour.