Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, the sons of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines; and wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment.
1 Samuel 14:47
This verse and the other verses that round out chapter 14 are all straightforward. Saul took up the mantle of king and fought with the neighboring kings who wanted to conquer, oppress, or otherwise harass the Israelites. There is a brief aside telling us the names of his children, daughters included, and his wife as well as the name of the commander of his army. And the chapter rounds out with the comment that Saul added any capable person he came across to his retinue.
This morning’s verse sounded, to my ears, like a softly-spoken reminder. Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he was doing nothing more than answering the call of God on his life. Samuel had anointed him king and that calling had been confirmed. Saul taking over the kingdom is, simply put, Saul submitting to God’s call on his life. And an interesting thing happens when Saul does this: the fighting seems to get worse. The verse tells me that he fought against all his enemies on every side. Saul did not receive peace and prosperity when he answered God’s call. Instead, Saul was given conflict on every side. There is another item of note: wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment. Not only did he submit to the call of God on his life and the conflict that came with that call, but he caused his enemies serious losses.
From there, I generalize out into a principle. That principle is that submission to God’s call on my life will not bring peace with those around me (or the old nature within me), but conflict, and the promise that I will enjoy victory so long as I remain submitted to God and His call on me. The very next chapter involves God giving Saul a chance to be submitted both to God and God’s call, but Saul is not submitted to God in that instance. Saul still wins the victory over the foe, but Saul shows that he is ruled by the people, not ruling over them. Likewise, it is possible for me to demonstrate that I am not ruled by God, but by other things — people’s opinions, my feelings, my lusts, and so on — and thus ruin something that God is trying to build.
Let this be a call to reflection for me. Am I submitted to God? Am I submitted to His call on me? If the answer to either one is anything other than an emphatic “Yes!”, then I know the source of defeats in my walk.
Father, thank You for this reminder that submission to You and Your call on me and my life is the only way to walk in victory. Thank You for the reminder that You did not promise peace with my adversaries or with the old nature within, but with You. Please search me and reveal those places where I am not submitting to You and to Your call on me and work in me to bring about submission.