Patience

Main Reading 1st Sam 13: 1-15

In your patience ye shall win your souls – Luke 21:19

One of the most confusing passage and yet it has been cited as the beginning of the end of Saul’s reign, due to his ‘Impatience’.  The Philistines had all their soldiers and chariots, “numerous as the sands of the seashore”, and the Israelites were running scared and running out of places to hide. Somehow Saul managed to muster up his troops who were still quaking in fear.  He patiently waited seven days for Samuel to arrive and perform his priestly obligations, but after waiting so long in fear he finally gave up on waiting for Samuel and performed the Offertory ceremony himself.  I’ve often asked myself, why was Samuel late and why Saul after waiting for seven days couldn’t wait a few more hours for Samuel to arrive?

The later part is the part we all can relate to. How often have we waited patiently for an answer from the lord, yet we take matters into our own hands thinking that we can handle it. Samuel’s delay was for a reason, to test Saul’s obedience and patience.  Those few minutes of hastiness on his part were the reason for God rejecting Saul as a king. But when we look at our lives and Saul’s we often ask does God really expect us to be this patient, when our enemies are surrounding us, when there seems no way out, when we are tested to our limits by the people around us. How long should we wait?

We may think the circumstances justify our impatience like in Saul’s case he knew his army was ready to flee as they were all trembling in fear seeing the Philistine army . If he had waited any more he would lost more men. They had already waited for seven days in fear. How much longer could he have waited?  But God anointed David who went through all this and even more and waited nearly 32 years since his anointing by Samuel as young boy till the day he was proclaimed King of Israel. During that period he is chased by Saul cheated by his friends and leaves his family to escape the king’s wrath but was always patient. Even when had the chance to kill Saul he waited as he knew that it was not his time. And even after becoming king of Israel he faced humiliation from his son, curses from Saul’s decendents threats to his kingdom from Absalom, yet he never strayed from the promises he made to Jonathan(that no harm will fall on his son) and Bathsheba(that her son Solomon will be his successor and patiently waited as the lord tested him through these people.

Even Christ patiently waited 30 years while God prepared him for his three and half years of ministry. He was tempted for forty days as part of his preparation.  And we like Saul find it hard to wait for a few more hours or days.  Just imagine if Saul had waited a few more minutes the entire history of Israel could have been different. The impatience of the Israelites who did not want to wait any longer and wanted a King resulted  in Saul being anointed as King in the first place and because of their impatience the whole country was in turmoil during the feud between Saul and David. If only they had waited and trusted the Lord David would have been the first king of Israel, but instead Saul was chosen as king over Israel.

In the book of James (Chapter 1) , James welcomes trial and tribulations  with pure joy and further writes that it is these trials that test our patience and develops perseverance. And the one who stands these trials and perseveres  he will receive the crown of life. We should look at these trials as opportunities given to us by God to develop our perseverance and take heed from the life of David and Christ who spent more than three decades developing their perseverance which later helped David in his reign dealing with his opposition and helped Christ persevere the burden of the cross that came with the insults and torments of his oppresors .We need to develop such patience within us. This can’t happen with our human efforts but we need God’s intervention to help us develop this ‘Patience’.

So remember the Example of Christ and David, even the greatest were tested and made to wait but look at the things they accomplished.

2 Thess 3:5  And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.

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