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Silent Prayer

Last week we talked about the first King of Israel, King Saul.  He was a man with an impressive resume’, but his heart didn’t truly belong to God.  He relied on his own wisdom, instinct and emotion, and he did what seemed right in his eyes.  He ran ahead of God at times, didn’t consult God at times, would only obey God to a point at times, and was more concerned with being popular with the people of his Kingdom than he was in obeying God.  There were times King Saul was impacted by God’s will, but he attempted to do God’s will, Saul’s way.  Let me remind you that God rejected him as king and began to make preparations for a new king, someone who would be a “man after God’s own heart.”

God’s Will, God’s Way, in God’s Time

Too often we live the Christian life with good intentions instead of with full obedience.  We are interested in God’s will, and we may even seek it out and discover it, but often when we find it and even if we accept it, we still try to do God’s will our way.  It has to be God’s will, God’s way.

Even though he continued to reign for a long while, Saul knew his time was limited because of what Samuel the prophet told him about being rejected by God.  He also found out God had chosen David to succeed him.  Saul was often jealous of David for many reasons and repeatedly tried to kill him.  You would think it might be the other way around.  One might think David would want to see Saul taken out so that he could no longer threaten David.  David had been anointed King by the prophet Samuel 15 years before he took the throne in Judah which was the southern part of the Kingdom and 22 years before he reigned as King over all of Israel.  That is a long time to wait!  He could have had the attitude that the job was already his when he was anointed and that Saul just needed to step aside.  But David was a man who wanted God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time.

So David became good at dodging death.  How would you like to live day to day knowing there was a hit on your life?  3 times Saul threw a spear at David in I Samuel 18:11 and 19:10.  He tried to put him in harm’s way with the Philistines in I Samuel 18:17 and 25.  Saul told David he could marry his daughter if he would go to war with the Philistines and kill 100 of them.  He was banking on the fact that David wouldn’t be able to kill 100 before one of them killed David.  Saul even sent groups of hit men out to kill him in I Samuel 19:1, 11, 15.

David could have tried to retaliate and kill Saul with good reason. You could make a self-defense case out for sure.  People were watching David’s life.  People knew he had been anointed by the prophet to take over when Saul’s reign would end.  They watched him wait rather than retaliate.  I wonder what his actions did to instill confidence, loyalty and admiration in the people who were watching his life.  Scripture says several people encouraged David to go after Saul and kill him, but David didn’t take their advice.  He wasn’t one swayed by the opinion of other people.  He wanted God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time.

In I Samuel 24 Saul was on one of his escapades trying to find David so he could kill him and he went into a cave because he had to use the restroom. A little awkward for our Sunday morning discussion, but it’s in the Bible and is pertinent to the story, so as our story begins King Saul was taking a potty break.

Apparently, David and his men were hiding in the very cave Saul was using for a bathroom!  David crept up to Saul and cut off the corner of Saul’s robe without Saul noticing.  We pick up the story in verse 5:

1 Samuel 24:5-22 5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 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.” 7 With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

Are you getting this?  Saul had tried to kill David several times, and now in this exchange, David bowed down in front of Saul actually laid down in front of Saul as a gesture to honor Saul.  That is a different sort of person, don’t you think?  David made himself vulnerable in front of the person who wanted him dead.

9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’

So David pointed out that something higher than just his willingness to be subject to King Saul was at play.  He recognized that God had anointed Saul and had allowed him to serve in that capacity.

11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 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.

Rather than deal with Saul “man to man,” rather than “settle it with Saul,” David allowed God to be the mediator and judge in the situation.

13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you. 14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?   15 May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” 16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud.

17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” 22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Well, that ended well, or so it seemed.  But in I Samuel 26 Saul set out to find and kill David again.  Again, in that episode, David had an opportunity to kill Saul but didn’t do it. David found out where Saul was, and while Saul was asleep he went into Saul’s camp and stole the spear and water jug that had been by Saul’s head to prove to Saul when he would wake up that he could have taken Saul’s life but spared it.

What reasons did he give for not killing Saul a second time? Again, he had a friend tell him to kill Saul as he slept, but David said in verse nine that he wouldn’t touch the Lord’s anointed.  He left Saul’s fate up to God in verse ten when he said, “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.

Ultimately, David saw God, not himself, as his deliverer, a very important principle when you are waiting on God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time!

When Saul did eventually die, David’s response was very unusual.  Instead of being relieved or even happy that his enemy was gone, we see the purity of David’s heart rather than some kind of hatred for an enemy.  II Samuel 1:1-16 tells us David mourned and wept over Saul’s death.  He even killed the Amalekite who brought him the news of Saul’s death because that man had wound up being the one who had killed the Lord’s anointed.

Then in verses 17-27 of II Samuel 1 David memorialized and honored Saul and Jonathan in a song.  There was no sign of hatred.  David’s heart had been pure toward Saul.

In II Samuel 2:4-7, David even honored and appreciated the people who buried Saul.  He had never become bitter about having to wait because he had always trusted God.  When you fully trust God you don’t have to become bitter and angry towards anyone.  Isn’t that awesome?  David did what Scripture commands us to do; to love our enemies.

The first thing David did after Saul’s death was also telling.  Look at II Samuel 2:1:

1 In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The LORD said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” “To Hebron,” the LORD answered. David was about to assume the kingship.  He didn’t do it without submitting to God’s Lordship!  David knew he was supposed to be king.  That was the plan, but David didn’t just want to follow God’s plan, but he wanted to follow God.  He knew God wanted to lead in the details.

Allow me to make some observations:  As a young boy, David was anointed king of Israel.  That happened in I Samuel 16.  In the very same chapter, David was called to the palace to play the harp to try to help Saul find peace when he was tormented by an evil spirit.  At that point, Saul really liked David and made him one of his armor bearers.  He asked David’s dad if David could remain in the service of the king.  David’s dad agreed.  I am sure David was thinking, “Wow!  I knew I had been anointed King, but I didn’t think I would already be moving in on the palace happenings.”  Things looked promising.  Things seemed to be headed in the right direction, and then came years and years on run and years and years of waiting.

Don’t you think that could have caused David to question God?  “God, why would you bring me so close to the palace only then to have me living life on the run away from the palace?”  But we don’t ever read that David questioned God’s will, His way, or His timing.

David wound up killing an enemy big guy who was so big he was called a giant.  That made him a national hero.  Perhaps after that episode, while people were singing his praises, that would have seemed a natural time for David to step into the kingship.  I mean, his popularity was soaring.  But no, his popularity is what sparked Saul’s jealousy, and that is when David had to flee.  In the natural David could have thought, “Well, I guess it will never come to pass.  I guess me being king is off the table.  Saul is ticked and wants me dead so I might as well give up on any dreams of taking the throne.”  But he didn’t think that way.  What incredible faith.

Perhaps you don’t know that even while David was on the run he served his people.  He delivered a group of his people from the Philistines in I Sam. 23.  When he lived in the city of Ziklag he carried out raids against the enemies of Israel.  He shared some of the spoils of war with the people who lived in the southern kingdom.  David didn’t just live aimlessly, running to try to avoid death.  While he was waiting to ascend the throne he was serving his people!  We can work for the Lord and serve others even as we are waiting on God’s perfect timing for the big picture to come into view.

David saw his country in unique ways during that time.  He traveled all over it.  He lived among the people.  He honed his skills for war.  All of those experiences were going to make him a much better king.  Even after he became the king in the southern part, in the land of Judah, he still had to wait 7 more years to become king over all of Israel due to major drama Saul’s cousin, Abner, stirred up after Saul died.  He could have said to himself, “I’ve waited long enough and Saul is now dead.  I am assuming the throne that is rightfully mine,” but he didn’t.  He let things play out.  Cousin Abner, Saul’s cousin, decided he was going to appoint a king to take Saul’s place (even though he knew the throne belonged to David) and he installed a guy named Ish-bosheth.  David didn’t fight the situation even then.  After all, Ishbosheth was a descendant of Saul.  He had made a promise to Saul once that he wouldn’t cut off his descendants.  David wasn’t going to try to kill Ishbosheth or remove him.  He was willing to wait another 7 years to wait on the Lord and to keep his word.

That’s a whole lot of story in a little amount of time, so what am I trying to say?  I am glad you asked. J

Rather than get upset at people who oppose us and try to make God’s will happen in our way and in our time we need to accept that:

God isn’t in a rush.  You know the phrase, “I have all the time in the world?”  Well I don’t and you don’t but God does.  God is beyond time.  God isn’t limited by time.  Scripture records story after story of blessing that came to people who were willing to wait.

God promised Abraham and Sarah a child, but they had to wait 25 years for that baby to be born.

God promised Noah a flood was coming, but it was 60-70 years before the rains came.

God had Jacob wait 14 years for the perfect wife.

The Israelites waited for 430 in Egypt, eventually becoming slaves there, before they returned to the Promised Land.

It is in time and in God’s time through the process of waiting that God accomplishes His purposes.  He knows what He is doing, and He is never late.

God develops us in times of waiting.

As we wait we learn to trust God.  As we wait learn to draw closer to God.  As we wait we are inclined to seek God more intentionally.  As we wait our faith increases.  Intimacy grows between us and God.  Think about the Psalms.  How many of them were written during periods of waiting?  So many of them have questions in them like, “How long, O Lord?”  “How long will I have to wait until this trial is over?”  Several of the Psalms talk about “waiting on the Lord and waiting patiently for Him.”  Waiting is always part of God’s plan and process.  To not want to wait is to want to skip something God has designed that will be for our benefit.  God has a purpose for asking us to wait, and when we aren’t willing to wait we can mess up the very blessing He is trying to deliver!

People who want to get ahead of God or try to make things happen as a result of using their own wisdom wind up in trouble.  You will remember that Abraham and Sarah who had been promised a son in their old age had gotten impatient.  Instead of waiting on God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time, they took matters into their own hands and found a surrogate for Abraham to have a baby with, and we have had conflict in the Middle East ever since, literally.

Remember one of Saul’s failures that we talked about last week was his impatience for Samuel, the Prophet to arrive, to perform the sacrifices.

Learning to wait is such a wonderful skill to acquire.  Acquire it young, young people.  Don’t buy things you can’t afford.  Wait and save.  You will enjoy them so much more when you aren’t looking over your shoulder to see if someone is coming to repossess something you bought on credit and couldn’t pay for.  You will have such a sense of accomplishment if you work and save for it.

Dad and Mom, let’s teach our children to appropriately wait.  They don’t need to be dating in the fourth grade!  Wearing make-up too early, being “dropped off” to run the mall with friends too early, seeing PG13 movies too young, watching TV shows that have mature themes, all of those things can circumvent a child’s ability to learn to wait and appreciate the process involved in waiting later in life.  Cell phones aren’t typically needed by second graders.  J  Just sayin’.  I see posts by Middle School students about how in love they are and how someone is their soulmate and they can’t imagine life without that person and they are just in the sixth grade.  If they are convinced that love is special, how much more special could it have been if they had waited to let their hearts fall?

Young men and women and even those more mature in our audience this morning, wait to have sex until you are married.  In the context of marriage it is wonderful, but rushing ahead of God’s timetable there will leave you with guilt and regret and a whole host of other emotions you will have to work through, plus it is sin because it violates God’s standard.  There is no such thing as “safe sex” because once you give yourself to someone in a sexual way, whether a pregnancy results or not, you have bound yourself to the person in a spiritual way, a way that grieves God’s heart and will grieve yours when the breakup happens down the road.  God isn’t being cruel by asking you to wait.  He just wants it to be the best possible experience and the best possible experience is the married experience.

Don’t look for the short cut.  Don’t look for the feel good.  Look for God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time!  Wait!  Let me tell you that anything God has planned for you, that He has an appointed time to bring to you, will be WORTH the wait!

Under David’s leadership, the Kingdom of Israel that had been a Divided Kingdom came back together.  It had been worth the wait for him to be able to reign over the entire land.  It was the right time for the Kingdom to come back together, and David was the right leader to help make it happen.  Not waiting can lead us into sin.  Waiting can bring about great blessing.

God wants us to live a life of fulfilment and joy, and because He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, because He sees the future, His timing is always best.  I don’t have time this morning to develop the theology of waiting we see about God’s perfect timing as it appears all throughout Scripture, but suffice it to say God knows what He is doing and why He is doing it at a certain time.

It was this past January one Wednesday when the snow started coming down heavy in the late morning.  You remember “Snowmaggedon?”  I contacted Crede Lawn Care, a great friend of our church that removes snow and treats our parking lot for free.  I reminded them that we had an After School program and parents would need to be able to pick up their kids without getting stuck and sliding on our hill, so I asked them to please come and take care of it.  The snow got heavier and heavier and it was surprising there wasn’t an early release from school that day.  By one o’clock our drive was really not passable.  It was coated with several inches of ice and snow. I called our After School workers and told them not even to try coming in.  Brenda and I were already here, so we decided we would just stay and take care of the kids.  Conditions grew horrible in a hurry.

Instead of coming up into the lot the school bus dropped the After School kids at the bottom of the hill.  The snow came down harder and harder.  People were reporting that it was taking an hour and a half to get from Charleston to Teays Valley and conditions were growing worse.  Still, Crede hadn’t come to treat our drive.  I was thinking, “Don’t they know how important this is?  Don’t they know that parents can’t park on TV Road and pick up their kids?  Don’t they know that we need to be priority?”  I was getting frustrated.

About four o’clock it was like a scene from a movie where the music swells and the hero swoops in to save the day.  All of the sudden I heard the truck come.  And I thought, “Whew, just in the nick of time, right before parents came to pick up their kids.”  And then it dawned on me.  They had purposely waited to come to clear and treat our hill because they wanted it to be passable when the parents arrived.  Had they come when I called, the snow would have quickly covered over the drive and made it impassable again.  they had a better pulse on the weather conditions than me.  They knew just the right time to come.

Listen, God knows the conditions of your life perfectly, and He sees what is ahead.  He knows what He is preparing you for and what He will use to prepare you in the meantime.  His Will, His Way, His Time is perfect.  Trust Him, and wait for Him to move in your life.

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