Patience, A Much Needed Virtue. 03/28/2014 (Evening thought)

Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

This passage of scripture speaks volumes to us of a virtue we all need. In our fast-paced world of fast-foods, drive thrus, same-day deliveries, rush-shipping, fast cars, and high-speed internet, we can all use a lot more patience in our daily experiences, for it is a characteristic that is greatly needed in the Christian's life. There is an incident in the Bible that we can draw many valuable lessons from, as it pertains to patience.

After Saul had been anointed king, he faced a most trying circumstance in which the war-like Philistines had assembled a large army to fight Israel in retaliation for what Jonathan, Saul's son had done. Jonathan had recently smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and this action was viewed as an aggression not to be tolerated without retribution by the Philistines. Hence the reason why they  were bent on attacking Israel. Saul however was given a specific command by the prophet Samuel that he should not go to war without the blessing of God, which would have been granted in response to Samuel's entreaties via a sacrificial offering. 

The prophet had promised to come within seven days, but during this time some disturbing developments began to take place that put Saul and his soldiers in a seemingly difficult and dangerous predicament. As Saul and his soldiers saw the size of the Philistine army, they became very disheartened, and many of them decided to retreat and to hide themselves in various places, leaving Saul with a greatly diminished army whose morale had been severely depleted. Let's read:

1st Samuel 13:5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits. 7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Saul waited for Samuel's appointed time of arrival, but it came and went with no sign of Samuel, and so Saul decided to do the unthinkable, he assumed the role of priest and offered his own sacrifice. But as soon as he was finished Samuel arrived, only to find that Saul had already done what the priest alone should do. A conversation consequently ensued which resulted in Samuel revealing to Saul that his kingdom would come to a premature end as a result of him not being patient enough to wait upon God. Let's read:

1st Samuel 13:11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;  12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.  13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. 14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

There are at least two critically important lessons to be derived from this incident. Saul's lack of enduring patience was fueled by a secret distrust of God, who would have given him the victory over the Philistines regardless of whether he had ten, or ten thousand soldiers. God is not impressed nor intimidated by numbers as the sacred history of the Jews had already shown, when Gideon's army was reduced from thirty thousand to three hundred, and was victorious through the power of God. Let's read:

Judges 7:2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

Many Christians often fall into the same snare through a lack of trust in God. We sometimes allow ourselves to be intimidated by numbers, by the fact that the majority are doing differently than we are commanded to do, and so we often lose courage by distrusting God's power to deliver us in the face of adverse circumstances. We should always discipline our minds to focus on the eternal God and His promises to us, instead of groveling in fear and dismay when surrounded by ominous circumstances.

The next important lesson to be learned from the experience of Saul is that we should never allow ourselves to be forced into doing something that's wrong, because circumstances are desperate. Satan often tries to squeeze the Christian into a position where it seems as if the only way out is to commit sin. This is one of his favorite snares that he lays for our feet and we should therefore ask the Lord to give us a daily dose of His Spirit so that we can stand resolutely for the right though the heavens fall.

For instance, many Christians have been brought to the point of having to make a decision of whether to pay their mortgage, or whether to return their tithes and offerings that are due. Let's just say here that in every desperate situation that may occur in our lives, there are certain "options" that should be taken off the table, the first one being disobedience. We should always decide before-hand that whatever dire circumstances may arise, that we will be faithful by the grace of God. Faith that is not tested cannot be trusted, therefore it's sometimes necessary for situations to reach a boiling point so that we may know whether we possess sterling character or whether we need to trust in God more than we currently do.

We therefore end with a passage of scripture that should serve to bolster our faith and confidence in The Living God and also to turn our gaze from external circumstances to focus our attention on Him who is invisible. Let's read:

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;  26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

We hope and pray that this brief presentation would serve to make us strong in The Lord and in the power of His might. "Good night" and God bless!