1 Samuel 31:1-13 (Part 5) – The Trust Is In Plowing The Field In Front of You

Posted: April 27, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel

1 Samuel 31:1-13
The Death of Saul (Part 5 of 5)

So, today, on April 27, 2018, we end our journey through 1 Samuel that we began back on November 5, 2017 – a month before we had even heard of Calvary Church of the Quad Cities in Moline, IL. Isn’t that amazing when you reflect on it. Almost six months ago, when I started this study, I had no clue that when I ended this study I would be living in another state and fulfilling a dream of the previous decade to be in full-time ministry.

I did not even know that Calvary Church existed until I got an email from him on December 7, 2017. In that email, he asked if I was still looking for a business position in a church. He had found my resume on churchstaffing.com. That email set off a chain reaction of events that has brought to this place at this moment in time.

Prior to that, we had some close calls with ministry positions over the previous 3 ½ years since my graduation from seminary at the graduate school of North Greenville University, but nothing had come of them. One church in Ohio, we had come within an inch of a job offer in January 2017 but after that we had sort of resigned ourselves that full-time ministry was just out there somewhere. God had given me a word after that of “just keep plowing the field in front of you!”. In other words, he being faithful doing what you are doing and trust me with the future. That word from God came to me about 3 months before that email from Pastor Tim. During that time, we just rededicated ourselves to being faithful in the field where we had been plowing for the previous 7 ½ years – we were both, Elena and me, heavily involved in leadership at LifeSong Church in Lyman and I was also the controller for a division of a large multi-national company headquartered in nearby Duncan. That word from God just kind of released us from the worry of when, or where, or what our ministry future would look like. It also rededicated us toward being the best that we could be in our leadership positions in church and in my secular job.

But particularly at church, it was a reminder to be faithful, to be humble, to be available, and to be teachable. It was a reminder of the blessings that God had already bestowed upon us. It was a reminder that God is the one who held our future and not us. It was freeing. Some might call it resigning yourself to your fate and giving up. But no this was different. It was God telling us to trust Him with the future. It was God telling us to trust that He has it under control. It was God saying that you still have work to do where I have you planted. It was God saying you still have some last lessons to learn before I think you are ready to move to the next season that I have for you. It was God telling us that we can have joy at the end of a season as much as the middle of it. It was God telling us to always keep learning. It was God telling us to soak in all that we can soak in as we serve Him. It’s not defeatist. It is God saying that where you are at this moment is where I want you – even if it is a time of pain, pruning and chiseling. It is a reminder not to try to get out ahead of God. It was a reminder not to take God’s sovereignty into our own hands. Trust and obey. Give your trust to Him and let Him lead in the dance that we are in with Him. When we try to lead it always ends up with a failed and awkward dance. Let the Lord lead. Follow His lead.

When we released our angst over when, where, how and…when…and when…to God and just plowed the field in front of us to be best of our ability and to the glory of God for just letting us be a part of His team, that was when we were ready. To just find the joy in serving Him that is in front of you and trusting God to do with it what He will and to trust Him with what’s next is what He wants from us. That deep abiding trust that even in the valley when things don’t seem to be going right (and even when they seem to be going nowhere or when things seem to be in the crapper) is when we must trust Him most. He wants us to be able to find joy in Him no matter the circumstance and that the circumstances can become part of our message of the wonders of God. Trust. Trust. Trust In Him.

My and Elena’s time after my graduation from seminary was that kind of time for us. It was where we had to learn trust. It was where we had to learn to plow the field that God had us in and trust Him with the next field on the horizon. That trust was what I thought as I reflect on the end of Saul’s life and his history throughout the Book of 1 Samuel. Even in his death, he lacked trust in God. It was confirmation of his lack of trust in God throughout his time as king. With that overarching theme of trusting God with the where, the when, the how, let’s read through 1 Samuel 31 for the final time and close out our visit to the Book of 1 Samuel now:

31 Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. 3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.

4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.

7 When the Israelites on the other side of the Jezreel Valley and beyond the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines moved in and occupied their towns.

8 The next day, when the Philistines went out to strip the dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death in their pagan temple and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. 10 They placed his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

11 But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days.

In this passage, we see that Saul’s death was no different than his life. Saul tried to please God on his own terms. He tried to please God with spurts of religiosity. He more often than not though tried to wrest control of his future from the hands of our Sovereign God. He would never fully trust God. Spiritual growth comes from stacking days of obedience one on top of another. Like a bricklayer builds a wall one brick at a time, our faith in God deepens through daily obedience bricks being laid. Our faith is deepened when we trust God even when our heart and our emotions scream out that we want things a different way. Our faith is deepened when we trust God when things don’t happen on our time schedule. Our faith in God is deepened when we obey Him even when the results are not what we wanted to happen or the way that we wanted things to happen or in the time period that we wanted them to happen.

In this book of 1 Samuel, we see that Saul was impetuous and trusted God only when it seemed that God had given him what HE wanted. We see that Saul glorified God when circumstances matched up with his fleshly desires. When things didn’t go as he wanted them to he strayed from God. He wanted his God to give him what he wanted and when that did not happen he took matters into his own hands. We want to disdain Saul for that. However, he was a reflection of who the whole nation of Israel was at the time. All of Israel was the same way from the time they were in the desert in Exodus to right here in 1 Samuel. They loved God when He gave them what their flesh wanted and strayed from him when God was asking them to simply trust Him no matter what.

We want to disdain Saul for being who he was and his lack of faith and trust in God. However, he stands before us as a mirror. How much like Saul are we sometimes? We want what we want and we want it now. We want what we want and want God to vend that to us from the His eternal vending machine. We push a button and expect that to be dispensed. Where we grow in God is when we trust Him completely no matter what is happening to us good or bad. Where we grow in God is when we trust Him with the timetable of our lives. Where we grow in God is when we trust Him even when our heart screams that things are not happening fast enough, if at all. Where we grow in God is when we find joy in the field that we are plowing for Him right now and trust Him with when it is time to move to the next field beyond the horizon. The trust is in the plowing of the field in front of you.

Amen and Amen.

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