Now 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 selected a King for Myself among his sons.” 1 Sam. 16:1
King Saul has messed up again. His pride and disobedience have incurred the wrath of God, and he has been utterly cast aside as King of Israel. Saul broke God’s law by offering an illegal sacrifice before Israel went to war. Then Saul decided that he would not kill all of the Amalekites as God instructed him to. It is on the heels of this latest round of overt defiance that God has had enough. He is done with Saul.
The prophet Samuel is heart-broken over Saul’s sin and the separation that this sin has brought between Saul and God. Samuel is in shock as he bemoans the failure of Saul, the sin of Saul, and the loss of potential greatness in Saul. It is in the middle of this emotional period that God intervenes with a question for Samuel: “How long will you grieve over Saul?”
That question leads to two powerful statements. God says, “I have rejected him from being king…;” then God says, “I have selected for myself…”
The question and the two statements provide a rich picture in the text and a hard lesson for us to learn. Both statements of rejection and selection are verbs in the Hebrew Perfect stem. The Perfect speaks of action that is completed in total fashion. There is nothing left to be done or even undone. It suggests that this is not something God is considering or working on. It’s done! It’s a wrap! Now contrast that to the question that God asks Samuel: “how long will you grieve?” The word “grieve” is a Hebrew Participle. Here is what God is really asking Samuel: “how long will you go on grieving for Saul?” or “how long will you keep grieving for Saul?”
The picture is stunning. That word “grieve” in the Hebrew literally means to be in such despair that Samuel’s head was hanging low with immense sorrow. Samuel’s head was hanging low over something that God was finished with. The Hebrew Perfect means that God had already completely rejected Saul and had already completed the selection of Saul’s replacement, David. So while Samuel was stuck in a place of sorrow over the past, God had already moved on to the next season. Samuel the Prophet had to catch up.
The rejection of Saul was so complete that no amount of crying or belly aching on Samuel’s part was going to change it. How often do we weep and dwell mentally and emotionally on what God has said no to and moved on from? Do we imagine that the more we cry and the more we live out the fantasy of how it used to be or how we wish it to be, that we will actually change God’s mind from what He has already completed in the spirit realm?
In April 2010 God said no to me. He closed a door that I wanted to walk into with every fiber of my being. It was a particular ministry opportunity that I thought He was calling me to. He said no. The no hurt. My father told me that the pain of this disappointment would not go away easily. It didn’t. I grieved over that “no” for almost two years. I will never forget the day that I was driving up to Starbucks to grab coffee. God asked me the question: how long will you keep on grieving? He had already moved on. I was still stuck. I sat in the car and wept like a baby and begged God to forgive me. I experienced release at that moment.
Here is what I learned the hard way. You will never move into the “yes” God has for you if you stay stuck in pout mode over the “no’s.” You will never walk into the door that God has graciously opened for you if you keep pulling and pushing on the door knob of a door that God has closed shut for you. Don’t stay in a place that God has moved on from. Stop weeping over your Saul: God has moved on to your David and is there waiting for you to catch up.