1 Samuel 16:1–3 (ESV) 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 provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.”
Samuel is the last judge of Israel. He has led them from the catastrophe of national corruption under the failed priesthood of Eli and his sons (read about them in 1 Samuel 2). Samuel gave Israel a new beginning and a rebirth experience with God. He was also called upon to anoint Israel’s first king – a notorious name in Biblical history – King Saul. But King Saul failed. He took his position and power too personally, used the kingship to fight for personal glory and became consumed with what people thought about him. In the previous chapter (1 Samuel 15), Saul was commanded to utterly destroy the Amalekites from under heaven. He followed that command half-heartedly, saving the best of the spoils for himself and taking king Agag alive as a trophy for his victory. For this act of disobedience, the Lord rejected Saul as King.
By the end of chapter 15, Samuel the prophet is in full-on mourning. He is down, grieved and dejected. He can’t even sleep (1 Samuel 15:10). After all, Saul was the king Samuel anointed and elevated to this position. Now it seems all Samuel’s work has been for naught. The nation was seemingly no better than when he began.
I wonder if you’ve been there? Have you ever felt your years have been wasted or a least a portion of your history was of no purpose? What I’m trying to get you to see is how Samuel could have wallowed in self-pity for days on end so you will also notice how the Lord REFUSED to let him do stay dejected.
The Lord’s question is firm in 1 Samuel 16:1: “How long will you grieve over Saul?”
Translation: How much time do you want to waste focusing on what “could have been?”
The Lord continues: “I have provided for myself a king…”
Translation: The Lord is ready to turn the page.
Maybe last year wasn’t great for you. Think God is ready for you to spend a bulk of your time THIS YEAR obsessing about it? Think again. He’s ready to move on. He’s calling you forward. You see, with Samuel, the Lord had David already prepared to replace and exceed anything Saul would ever do. For your life, the same is true. If you are in Christ – your future is brighter than your past and you MUST turn the page.
Every New Year we get a chance to sort of “restart”. We usually do this with a list of things that will fix what is broken in us from previous years (spending, exercise, relationships). But perhaps, instead of shifting gears into immediately fixing those external realities (which can be important), the first thing you should is first let last year be what it is: the past. Embrace today and expect good from God. Scripture affirms He is both “working for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), AND we are “being transformed… from one degree of glory to another” by the power of His Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I’m glad the Lord made Samuel turn the page. Because when he did, David came to the forefront of Israel’s history and led the nation to unprecedented victory. We have David’s Son Jesus who comes into our lives and does the same. Instead of agonizing over what happened last year, embrace what could happen this year. In Christ, you have every right to eagerly anticipate the good God is working out today and tomorrow.
Happy New Year