We are all familiar with the lives of the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. God has testified about both. About David, God said: “a man after my own heart.” But about Saul, He said: “——He has turned back from following Me—”(1 Samuel 15:11).
What made the difference? David was anointed king, long before he ascended the throne. During the intervening period, he had to undergo many frustrating and life-threatening experiences. On the contrary, Saul found himself to be the king over God’s people one fine morning, while he was still taking care of his father’s donkeys (1 Samuel 11:5). He had not personally faced many challenges in life. He had a protected life. His father began to worry about him, when he was late in returning home. But David, while still very young, lived in the open field, taking care of his father’s sheep and watching the beauty of the heavens declaring the glory of God. He had fought lions and bears and killed them, to protect the sheep. These experiences had given him the courage, even at a very young age, to face the giant Goliath, to depend on God, and the strength and wisdom to kill him!
After he was anointed king, he was chased for his life by one who too was anointed. The king himself became his enemy. The depth of despair he went through, comes out clearly in some of his psalms. Psalms 6 & 13 are examples. He was chased from one wilderness to another, and from one cave to another. Yet, when it was in his power to kill Saul, David gave way for the Lord’s vengeance. He refused to stretch his hand against the “Lord’s anointed.” The Bible records two such occasions when he could have easily ascended the throne after killing Saul. God allowed these opportunities to test whether David was actually a man after His own heart. Unlike most of us, David passed the test with flying colours! What a victory! To the world, he looked foolish; but he acted in God’s wisdom. What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to the Lord.
Just because he was more committed in his heart to be obedient to God than to ascend the throne, he had to live in hiding for many more years, fearing for his life! Thus we find that sufferings are not all that bad. We all want to avoid suffering at any cost. But it is sufferings that build our spiritual muscles. Sufferings make us spiritually mature. They enable us to grow better, if handled properly; otherwise, we become bitter. It is through sufferings that we learn to really, practically, depend on God. That is when we realize our helplessness in taking care of ourselves. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it.” Unless the Lord guards, we are not guarded! Saul continued to be the king for a few more years in the sight of the world, though God had rejected him from being king!
Therefore, do not lose heart, when you are going through sufferings for no fault of yours. Don’t try to ‘handle’ your enemy yourself. Be committed to obey God’s word. He will lift you up in His time. He is not a helpless spectator, while you pass through the fire. It is not that God could not handle Saul. He was not watching helplessly for Saul to die, so that David could ascend the throne. All through those years, He was moulding David to be the ‘man after His own heart.’ God is the owner and source of all life. He can give it and take it away, at will. He did that with Nabal (1 Samuel 25:36-38) and with Herod (Acts 12:21-23). He can do the same with any of us. So, let us not grow weary while doing good; in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9).
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