Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.) While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. (1 Samuel 14:18-19)
For the full context, I encourage you to read the entire chapter, but the gist of the situation was that Israel was about to go into battle against the Philistines. Saul’s army was grossly outnumbered, and to his credit Saul paused long enough to ask the priest to bring the Ark over so they could seek God’s direction and blessing.
First of all, kudos to Saul for pausing long enough to seek God before plowing ahead. We’d all do well to do likewise! However, most scholars believe that by saying “withdraw your hand,” Saul cut the priest off in mid-prayer and took matters into his own hands. He looked into the enemy camp and decided taking up arms was better than sitting beside the Ark. Saul saw an opportunity as the Philistine camp decomposed, so he cut prayer time short and gave chase.
We weren’t there, so we can’t say for sure whether Saul’s actions were all correct or all in error; however, it gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves a couple of questions:
1) Do we pause to consult God in our plans?
2) If so, do we WAIT for His reply?
I’ll be honest – I struggle with both. I tend to see a path I think makes sense, and off I go. I make my plans and THEN invite God in to bless them! Can you relate? Frequently, because I know it’s the right/Christian thing to do, I will go to Him in prayer, only to get off my knees and proceed the way I had intended to anyway. In short, it’s an area in which I need some growth and discipline!!!
How about you? What are your answers to questions 1 & 2 above? –Dave
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