He had only been king for a few years. The years had gone well, although he had started his reign with a fight already on his hands.
He won that battle and the people were glad he was their king.
But now he faced a bigger threat.
A stronger enemy.
That perpetual enemy of Israel, the Philistines.
So King Saul gathered his army and prepared to fight.
The problem was that the Philistine army far outnumbered the Israelites.
And both armies knew it very well.
The other problem was that Saul had very clear instructions from his spiritual leader and guide, Samuel, the prophet:
Wait for me to offer the burnt offering and peace offering before you go to battle.
When I come, I will offer them to God to ask his blessing on this battle.
Your job is to wait.
Samuel was a priest as well as a prophet. King Saul wasn’t either one.
Seven days passed.
The enemy army loomed.
While Saul’s army fled.
Each day men drifted away.
And still Samuel did not come.
And here is where Saul had a choice:
The surrendered life?
Or the solve-it life?
He faced a huge problem.
A looming enemy.
And a dwindling army.
From the human perspective he needed to DO something before things got worse.
But to DO something was to go against God’s command.
Because it was not lawful for him to offer the sacrifices.
A surrendered life meant choosing obedience.
It meant choosing to wait, even though the consequences seemed dire.
It meant looking at life with God’s eyes, not human perspective.
And a solve-it life meant disobedience.
Taking matters into his own hands.
Getting on with things so that no more soldiers fled.
After all, who can win a major battle with just a few men?
God had done it before: Sampson, Gideon, even Abraham had gone into battle with incredible odds stacked against them.
But would he choose to remember God’s faithfulness?
Or would he choose to let fear drive him?
Surrender his problem and his will to God?
Or solve his problem with his own wisdom and ways?
Saul chose to solve the problem.
He offered the sacrifices to God.
And no sooner had he finished, then Samuel showed up.
Here’s how it is recorded in I Samuel 13:
“Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”
Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”
“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.’”
Unfortunately, that is not the last time that Saul chose the solve-it life over the surrendered one.
You see, he didn’t lose the kingdom immediately.
It happened over time.
But fast-forward to the next fight he had on his hands.
Sometime later, God told him to completely wipe out the Amalekite nation as punishment for their sin.
He very specifically told Saul to not leave anything or anyone alive.
And yet Saul kept the best animals alive.
And he chose to not kill the Amalekite king.
When Samuel arrived, he questioned Saul about the animals he heard.
And Saul claimed he had kept them in order to sacrifice them to the Lord.
But Samuel told him, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”
He also told him God’s message concerning his disobedience: “I am sorry I ever made Saul king.”
A solve-it mentality led Saul to lose both his kingdom and God’s favor. Later on in his story, it caused him to lose his mind. He suffered from a “tormenting spirit” that brought on fits of murderous rage and depression.
Because a solve-it mentality is a tidy, cleaned-up way of declaring, “I don’t trust You, God. I don’t believe You are capable of coming through for me. You aren’t fixing this; You can’t fix this; I don’t trust You to have my best interest at heart. So I’ll take care of this mess on my own.”
Solve-it says, “I can’t see, so I better figure out a way to light my path.”
Surrender says, “I can’t see but I will walk by faith.”
Solve-it says, “God couldn’t possibly win this fight, so I better help Him out.”
Surrender says, “God plus nothing is enough to win any battle I might face.”
Solve-it says, “Look at the facts.”
Surrender says, “Look at His face.”
Solve-it says, “Look out for number one.”
Surrender says, “He is the only One whose opinion matters.”
Solve-it says, “God might not come through.”
Surrender says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
Solve-it says, “God doesn’t know what He is doing.”
Surrender says, “My Creator is certainly qualified to be my King.”
Solve-it says, “You better make a Plan B.”
Surrender says, “God is Plan A. There is no Plan B.”
Solve-it says, “Look at the size of that storm!”
Surrender says, “Look at the size of my God!”
Solve-it always ends in disaster.
If not in the circumstances, always in your heart.
Because Solve-it is a form of idolatry.
Kicking God off the throne.
And installing yourself as your final authority.
But Surrender always ends in victory.
Because sometimes He calms the storm.
And sometimes He calms you.
But either way, you have the peace that passes understanding.
The favor of God.
The promise of heaven because you are trusting Him to save you.
And, in the end, the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” instead of “I’m sorry I ever trusted her with that responsibility.
So which will you live today?
The Solve-It Life?
Or the Surrendered one?
Only you can choose.