Several months ago I read something in Samuel that has stuck in my mind. Samuel had anointed Saul king over Israel, but Saul had shown himself to be false and not a follower of God. The end of I Samuel 15 shows Samuel mourning for Saul. We can speculate that he mourned for what Saul should have been, both as a king for Israel and as a man for God. Weeping for Israel, yes, but also weeping for Saul’s lost soul; I suspect Samuel loved Saul. Chapter 16 starts out with these words: The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” God basically tells Samuel to get out of the past and get up and do the next thing.
This morning I was reading in Pilgrim’s Progress, and Christian comes across the pillar of salt that is Lot’s wife. Remember Lot’s wife looked back as she fled Sodom when God was destroying it. Again, we can speculate that she wasn’t just looking back out of curiosity, but out of longing. She had left everything behind, her life, her possessions, her friends and possibly even some of her family; it would be very natural to regret leaving it all. But God was pulling her out of the very fires of hell and she didn’t want to leave.
And then there are the Israelites coming out of Egypt. God rescued them from a life of slavery, with the promise of the Promised Land ahead of them. God is visibly, physically leading them, yet they continue to look back and regret leaving Egypt. Over and over again they grumble against Moses for taking them out of Egypt.
Lot’s wife and the grumbling Israelites both have the problem of unbelief. They don’t trust God and what He has promised. They keep looking back at what was or what might have been, rather than forward to God’s leading, God’s provision, and God’s promise. Am I guilty of the same thing? All too often I remember the past and let myself dwell on it. I long for it, or I regret it, or I feel guilty for what I did or bitter for what someone else did to me.
Lord, forgive me. Pull my eyes out of the past and focus them securely on my future in You. Give me the courage to let the hurts and the sin of the past go. Allow the victories of the past to encourage me in the fights of the future. As tempting as it is, I don’t want to go back to the sin and slavery of the past, and I don’t want the old kings and idols to rule my life again. Let it be said of me as it was of Samuel: Samuel did what the Lord said.
Luke 9:62 – Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Rebecca A Givens, 06/09/2008