Life is a series of choices. Shakespeare’s Hamlet makes the definition of life clear when he says, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
All of us struggle with decisions—whether to be or not to be, whether to leave or stay, whether to be silent or to talk, whether to laugh or to cry. The dilemmas we face in this life are not simple. They are complicated, and often require investigation and information gathering. If we do not take the time to make decisions, the wrong decisions could provide some bad consequences.
However, regardless of the time we put into our choices, there is still no guarantee we will get it right. Often we seek the input of others, but the most important person we should consult is the Lord—Lord, what should I do? Many of us remember Saul as the first King of Israel—who, at first, did not even want the job. However, as he became use to the power, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
In I Samuel 15, we witness the downfall of Saul. Through Samuel, God told Saul to attack the Amelekites. Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,’” I Samuel 15:1-3. Saul did as the Lord commanded and went up to battle. However, Saul and the people spared Agag, the king of the Amelekites, the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good—and were unwilling to utterly destroy them, as God commanded. After this clear act of disobedience, God expressed his disappointment in Saul to Samuel. When Samuel confronted Saul about his disobedience, he acted like it was not a big deal.
In his heart, Saul believed he had followed God’s command, but Samuel’s confrontation revealed the truth. He had disobeyed. Many of us have been in Saul’s position. We have complied partially with God’s command, and we have convinced ourselves that we have been in full compliance. The truth is God’s commands are 100% clear. We often find ourselves seeking direction from the Lord—saying to ourselves, “Lord, what should I do?” Many of us have heard from the Lord. The Lord has sent Samuel or spoken to us through some other media giving us clear instructions on our next step. But some of us have ignored his commands or reconstructed them to fit our personal needs. Others may not have heard his instructions and acted anyway. We learn from Saul that God does speak to us. He tells us what to do. He directs and guides.
God intervenes in our situations in an attempt to make us aware of the right direction. Unfortunately, God’s direction and words often go in one ear and out the other ear. If we followed God’s direction, we would avoid some of the trouble and problems we experience in this life. God does not tell us stuff to deprive of us of something. He tells us for our good.
When Saul saw all the good things that would be destroyed to comply with God’s command, he probably thought to himself: ‘Surely, God did not mean the Agag or these wonderful looking oxen, fatlings, and lambs.’ This is what gets us into complicated situations. We try to read something into what God said and meant, rather than taking him at his word.
For those of us who have not heard from God or still need some clarity on what we should do, let us not make any assumptions concerning our next move. Let us continue to pray and wait on the Lord.