Saul Sorrow

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I went out for a short run in the early spring morning.  The air, fresh from yesterday’s downpours, smelled of apple blossoms and wet growing things. The trees dripped. The sky sparkled with a few far off star-gems set in a backdrop of black velvet.

Upon my return, I opened the basement door to get some supplies. As I came back up the stairs, Rex ran down them.  I sighed. Every time someone goes down there, at least one of the cats rushes into the cavern. Cats remain trapped there for hours sometimes. Chloe spent a night down there once.  You’d think they’d learn after the first few times.  But they don’t.

I’ve been thinking lately about how we sometimes get what we want but it isn’t what we expected. Or hoped for. I read in 1 Samuel today, chapters 9-12. Samuel, the boy who grew up dedicated to the service of God, is tasked to find a king. God doesn’t like this.

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ – 1 Samuel 10:18-10

The Israelites wanted to be like other nations. They wanted a strong national leader. God wasn’t the ticket – elusive, intangible, seemingly remote. No. They wanted to be like the cool kids.

Samuel’s farewell address says it all. The children of Israel still act like, well, children.

“Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him.  Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.

 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.  But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”  – 1 Samuel 12:20-25

So, God gave them a king. Saul started out well. He listened to Samuel’s counsel. Then it goes off the rails.  Read on for more details.  Sometimes God answers our prayers, reluctantly, dragging his feet as it were. Perhaps a more accurate word is He allows things to happen because we hold fast to them in a white-knuckled grip.

I’m advocating surrender. When we feel underwhelmed at God’s answer to our petitions, it’s time to reevaluate. Do we trust that what the Lord has done for us this far is enough?  Enough to show He cares and will always take care of us? He has our best interests at heart, even when we can’t yet see it.


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