The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’
But Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.’
The Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.’
Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, ‘Do you come in peace?’
Samuel replied, ‘Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.’ Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’
But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
God speaks to Samuel and says: How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? In other words, 'Samuel, get over it.'
IT'S TIME TO MOVE ON FROM THE PAST
Then God says: "Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’”
As I studied this verse I really sensed God saying something like this.
We have such a tendancy to cling onto things from the past, to dwell on what has already happened, and mourn the loss of people and things, when God has already moved on.
Now I’m not talking about mourning the loss of a loved one when they die.
But I’m talking about how we mourn things in our life that we’re once so important to us and which are no longer there. Relationships which were central, but now aren’t as strong as they used to be. Maybe a church which we invested years in, but which we have moved on from now.
It’s so easy for us to get stuck in that place of mourning and lamenting what could and should have been, and I think God would gently but firmly speak to some of us today and tell us to move on. It’s time to let go. It’s time to draw a line in the sand and realise that He’s already started something new. Move on because He already has. He’s now doing a new thing and if you stay stuck in mourning the past, you will miss what He’s doing in the present.
All of Samuel’s hopes were wrapped up in one man, but God’s plans are bigger than any one person. No matter how significant or important they’ve been.
We’ve all seen this in church life over the years. At times we have placed too much hope in men and in leadership, and when they have failed us we’ve been devastated. We’ve thought that if they’re not here then everything is going to fall apart.
God’s purposes and plans are always bigger than any one man or woman. Yes, what we each do is significant and important. But God always has a backup plan. He has a plan B, which when He blesses it, is often better than our plan A.
Most of you may not remember it, but about 20 years ago there was a Gospel literature outreach called ‘Minus to Plus.’ The goal was to put a little booklet explaining the gospel through every door in the UK and Ireland. The man who led the campaign was the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. Apparently at the time Reinhard was interviewed and asked: "Why do you think God chose you to do this outreach to every home in the UK?" Do you know what Reinhard said? He answered with this: “When God told me to do this Minus to Plus outreach I also very clearly felt I heard him tell me that I wasn’t the first person he had asked to do it. He had asked two other men before me to lead this campaign and they both refused. I was his third choice.”
God is never surprised by what has happened, He’s never caught off guard, God is never left stuck scratching his head or panicking. He’s always got a back up plan.
When God tells us to move on, it’s because He already has moved on Himself, and if we stay living in the past, dwelling on the hurts and regrets, we’ll miss the incredible new things God is up to today.