Grieve Over What Is Lost Or Celebrate What God Is Doing?

Change happens and we cannot avoid it. We freely admit that God is the one who works all things together, yet we get so frustrated when He works things together in what seem to us new ways. We are transitioning, now, from Saul’s to David’s reign. God is changing things.

God bore with Saul, and Saul continued to prove he did not have a heart after God’s own heart. We are going to see Saul continue to degenerate as God changes the state of affairs. While Saul will try his best to hold on to the way things have been, God is making all things new. This is David’s rise to power.

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.”

But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”

So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?”

He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”

Next Jesse made aShammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”

Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”

So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

God’s forward motion (v. 1-3)

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.”

In 1 Samuel 15:35, we see Samuel exhibit the same emotion that God did in 1 Samuel 15:11. Samuel grieved because Saul rebelled against God and rejected God’s word. Here, God questions Samuel, “How long will you grieve?” I want to notice a difference between God and people. God experiences temporal emotions like grief in their times. He then moves forward perfectly. As insufficient and imperfect people, we get stuck in our emotions. While God understands, His desire is for His people to move forward with Him. “How long will you grieve? Fill your horn and go… I will send you … for I have selected.”

Now, I know how difficult grief is. I am proud that we have a Grief Share ministry at our church. If anyone is grief-stricken, we want to love you and care for you through that. This principle applies to more than only grief. Do we believe God is sovereign? Do we believe He is the only one who provides all things and works all things together? If so, then we must also believe that when old things pass away, whether we see them as positive or negative, and new things come, God’s is the providential hand working that out. While we tend to get stuck on past things, God bids us follow Him in the new things He is doing. If God works all things together, dynamic cultures, churches, and lives are evidence that God is still working and moving His plan forward according to His will and purpose. He did not only work in the past; He is working now—so, we embrace the new events and other types of things He has declared before they happen by His own will for His own purpose (cf. Isaiah 42:9). God does not get stuck in the past. He cannot because He is the one who works all things together at all times. If new things are happening, it is because God has decreed they would. To believe anything else is to make little of God’s sovereign will in all things. When we complain about God’s work through history and in our current time, we mock God. Notice the language. God had already selected the new king. God is working things together according to the plan He has had.

What about the oft-quoted verse, Ecclesiastes 1:9? Isn’t there nothing new under the sun? How can there both be nothing new under the sun and new things that God has declared before they happen? Go back and read Ecclesiastes 1. Look at verse 9 in context. It is more-often misapplied as it is quoted. Context is key to understanding Scripture. When Solomon will concede there is nothing new under the sun, he will concede that God’s laws of nature do not change since the sun was created. He will concede that human vanity in her self-centered action and religion does not change since the sun was created. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity—people cannot subvert God’s laws or work for their own pleasure, righteousness, happiness, etc… That will be Solomon’s concession. God must do the work. God is working all things together. So, we follow Him, not ourselves. We live to please God. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”

Samuel fears the consequence of the new things God will do temporally according to the plan God always had. Despite Samuel’s consequential fear, God still desires he move forward. God provides a way for Samuel to succeed according to His perfect plan. So, even if we fear the future, we follow our God into it as He works all things together. He will not fail to accomplish all that He has set forth to accomplish. Let us participate with Him despite our self-centered, consequential fears.

God’s plans are not ours (v. 4-11)

So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?”
He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

Despite his grief and fear, Samuel followed God according to God’s plan. He consecrated Jesse’s household. God has not yet revealed to Samuel who the new king will be. Samuel only knows that God has declared the path. He must trust God to deliver even though the outcome is unknown to him. The same is true for us. We are good at worrying. Will he have enough money? How much will we lose that we really like? How dangerous will the path be? God calls us to trust as He leads us. He declared the result. He will achieve His result. We often don’t have eyes to see. This works for our sanctification. When we walk through the unknown, our trust in God is increased. We recognize Him as sovereign and providential.

When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Samuel thought he saw how God was working things together, “Surely [Eliab is] the Lord’ anointed…” God reveals another amazing truth. God does not measure things like we do. We often make judgment calls based on what we see, think, perceive, hear, prefer, or the way we think things should be. So, we complain, condemn, criticize, reject, forsake, love or something else based on outward appearance or what we think we know. God does not see things the way we see them. Even Samuel, God’s prophet, is unable to see things the way God sees them or judge things the way God judges. We are incapable of making these sorts of judgments. God’s ways are not our ways.

Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”

Our ways are so far removed from God’s ways because of our unrighteous nature and subsequent depravity that even our second, third, and fourth choice is not God’s. We are drawn again to simply trust Him as He works all things together according to His plan and purpose for His glory and the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We often try to think of all the things we need to do, people we need to have, things we need to reject, and things we need to hold on to. Notice, here, God humbles us by showing us that we really have no idea what is going on or what is best. We cannot work things together. Jesse doesn’t even bring David to this sacrifice because David is the youngest and least of all his brothers. Surely God would use one of the older, more capable brothers. God’s ways are not our ways. Instead of assuming that we have God’s plan figured out, we walk trusting in Him to work all things together according to everything He has declared. We simply believe God at His word and act on God’s instructions.

Introducing King David (v. 12-13)

So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

Samuel anointed David. God’s Spirit came mightily upon David from that day forward. There is already a difference, here, between Saul and David. The Spirit moved Saul on occasion (10:6, 10; 11:6); He dwelt with David and was with David at all times. We will remember this as we continue to see David’s life play out through the remaining chapters of 1 Samuel. Everything about David’s life from this point forward is directed by God’s abiding Spirit. According to verse 13, the Holy Spirit abides with David from this day forward. This is not an indwelling, but an abiding, influential presence.

How has God humbled us by showing that His ways are not our ways? How does He call us to trust Him and not think too highly of our opinions, preferences, or the ways we think things should be? He does this humbling work throughout the Scriptures, throughout history, and through each person’s life. Is He bringing us to trust more in Him because He is sovereign and providential? Is He calling us to move forward with Him as He works all things together despite our past experiences, feelings, opinions, or preferences? Let us do so joyfully. This is for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. It is for His glory alone.

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