Fear can short-circuit our thinking and our faith. That is why when we feel fear looming, we must fight to maintain control. As we discussed yesterday, our Heavenly Father is there to help. We don’t want to make a bad decision because of fear. Bad decisions are at different levels. If we are fearful on a math test and blank out on a problem, that’s bad, but it’s not that bad in the scale of things that could go wrong. Something that would be worse is a decision that results in a compromise to our integrity or our faith. Here was such an example:
He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. – 1 Samuel 13:8-10, ESV
Saul was camped with his army and they were to face the Philistines. Samuel wasn’t as timely as Saul and the soldiers wanted and the desertions began. After all, this wasn’t a professional army. Even a professional army will have desertions if it starts to get afraid or lose hope. Saul saw the desertions and became afraid, too. I’m sure he was thinking in an earthly way, considering whether he had enough forces to face the Philistines. Likely forgotten was Gideon, the previous victories where the Israelites were outnumbered and outclassed yet still won, and even his own victory against the Ammonites. Israel could and would prevail, as long as God was on its side. However, with the desertions happening Saul got scared. Then he did something seriously wrong. He made an offering he wasn’t supposed to make.
Samuel was supposed to make that offering. Israel’s own history should have told Saul that doing this was wrong. Two of Aaron’s sons were struck down for offering “strange fire.” Saul wasn’t even a Levite, much less a descendant of Aaron. He was a Benjamite. He had no business making the offering. Yet, because he didn’t want any more to desert, he rushed things. He performed the burnt offering. This bad decision was a result of fear.
When Samuel showed up, he told Saul the consequences. Saul’s offspring would not remain on the throne forever. As we later learn, Saul was a one and only. There was no dynasty of Saul. David would take his place on the throne. Not only that, but Saul’s sin would eventually lead to another foolish encounter with the Philistines where he and his able-bodied sons were killed. One could further argue that this sin which led to Jonathan’s death meant David didn’t have the confidant and friend to keep him straight as David reigned. As a result, we could say that Saul’s sin here led to the eventual destruction of Israel. This can be the consequences of fear.
When fear begins to grip you, reach out for the Lord. Don’t let it master you. Don’t let it influence you in such a way that you’re willing to compromise your integrity or your faith. Saul did both and there were disastrous and long reaching consequences. We don’t want that to happen to ourselves, our families, our churches, and our communities. The only option sometimes is giving up to the Lord and leaning on His strength. Surrendering to Him is the best decision we can make. It’s the right decision when fear threatens to conquer you. Don’t let fear win. Surrender and let God do the winning.