What is God doing when things don’t work out the way you planned? In Ecclesiastes we are told about the timings of God and the writer says in Ecclesiastes 3, “To everything there is a season.” There is a time and the purpose under haven for everything. You are put here for a time and the purpose under haven. You are reading this because of the time and purpose under haven. These timelines of God are so important. I want to nail it down and give specific illustrations of times and God, and how times and God worked in Scripture and how the times and God end up working in your life as well. So, let’s look at a couple of guys named Saul and David. And I am going to come to a place in this to a 24-hour period of time that changed everything. Those 24 hours changed everything, but they had no clue it was happening.
Samuel had anointed Saul to become king around 1047 years B.C., that would be about 3000 years after Adam. Saul was about 30 years old when he was anointed to be king. When they were trying to anoint Saul to be king, they looked for Saul everywhere, but they couldn’t find him, and they finally found him in hiding in the baggage of the travelling caravan that had come through town. Hiding amongst the baggage means he pulled bags over him, baggage full of merchandise. Why was he there? This guy who was taller than everybody else by head and shoulders, this guy who was one of the most handsome man of all of Israel, why was he hiding in the baggage? And right here immediately we see the fatal flaw of Saul and that was, he was afraid of the people. He didn’t think the people wanted him or let him to be king, So, he was afraid and so he hid. Finally, they found him and anointed him to be king. One year later this flaw shows up again. Samuel asked Saul to come to this place where they were going to do a burnt offering, and this burnt offering will allow them to overcome the Palestine. So, they start this burnt offering and when they were going to do that Saul was waiting for Samuel to come but Samuel hasn’t shown up, he is late. Saul sees the people getting restless and Saul decides that people are going to leave, and Samuel hasn’t come, and Samuel isn’t coming so therefore that people don’t leave I as king going to do the burnt offering. And he violated the difference between the priestly duties and kingly duties. And that so doing Samuel tells him that his kingdom will not be passed down to his sons. And this happened because his fear for people. He didn’t realize that he was going through a test, he thought it was just an ordinary day. Lot of us has that type of things, we don’t know that we are going through a test, we just think that it’s just an ordinary day and the people are getting restless and I have a solution. So, once again the pressure of the people become too great for him, he succumbs, and he performs the burnt offering.
Nine years go by, everything seems to be going well, victories are happening, and once again Saul is facing a test and this time the test is different. Samuel tells him from the God that I want you to go into the Amalekites, I am going to render the judgement on Amalekites for what they did during the time of Moses to the people of Israel. I am going to render judgement upon them, I want you to kill everything you see including the king. So, they go to war against Amalekites and everything seems to be working out well, Saul does everything that God said except for two things. He didn’t kill all the animals, he gave them to the people because he was afraid of the people. And we find this because it says in 1 Samuel 15:14 where Samuel says, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear? Those are supposed to be dead and I see Agag and he supposed to be dead, what have you not done?” And Saul says, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions because I was afraid of people and I obeyed their voice.” (Verse 24). So, this fatal flaw that Saul has, he feared the people, came back to haunt him. And this time Samuel is much more stringent upon Saul and he tells him this time not only the kingdom has been taken away from your family, it’s been taken away from you and it’s been given to your neighbor. And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and immediately a distressing spirit came upon Saul that would trouble him for the remaining 32 years of his life.
Samuel began to mourn for Saul because Samuel really really loved this man. When you follow the timeline here, at the very same time when the kingdom is taken away from Saul and Samuel begins to mourn for him something else was happening in Israel, a baby was born that very year and that baby’s name was David. By the time David was seventeen years old, he has already killed a bear with his bare hands, and he has already killed a lion with his bare hands. God tells Samuel to go to Jesse’s house and anoint his son David to be next king. Samuel was mourning for Saul for 17 years, and in these 17 years David was now grown, Samuel had been mourning, Saul was getting older, and the day came when God said to Samuel to go and anoint David king. He was anointed to be king first when he was seventeen years of age. At 17 years of age or shortly thereafter he killed Goliath, and this happened after he was anointed to be king. He had the confidence to do that because he had killed the bear, he had killed the lion and now who is the Philistine to stand before him. Saul in the meanwhile was still going insane. The distressing spirit is troubling him. 8 years after when David was 25, Samuel anointed him for the second time to be king. Shortly thereafter Saul threw a spear to David and he had to run from Saul. 3 years later Samuel died at the age of 110, when David was 28, and Saul was now 69. David became king 3 years later at the age of 30 in Hebron, he would spend 7 years in Hebron ruling and then when he was 37, he would come to Jerusalem recapture it and become king in Jerusalem. He would rein 33 more years in Jerusalem, total of 40 years. He would die 960 B.C. when he was 70 years old. There was a timeline for you but it doesn’t tell the critical moment, you almost overlook it when you reading through from 1 Samuel to 2 Samuel, it goes by so quickly and it seems to be kind of hard to follow because it has this little term that leaves out, it has this term in English we call ‘meanwhile’. This is going on and in the meanwhile that another thing was going on. So, when you are reading through, it is little difficult to track.
David learned something but he learned it hard. 1 Samuel chapter 27 verse 1, “Then David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul.’” Think about it- this is the guy Samuel said you going to become king. This is the guy who has already been anointed to be king. He is not full of faith at this point and neither are his men who are following him. David had just failed to kill Saul for a second time when he could, first time in the cave and now the second time here in 1 Samuel chapter 26. Saul is asleep, it is midnight, everybody is asleep, guards are asleep, David sneaks down to the camp, picks up a water bottle, picks up Saul’s spear and comes back up to the hill and David tell Saul, “See I could have killed you but I didn’t, look I got your spear, look I got your bottle water but I didn’t kill you, why are you trying to kill me.” And Saul says, “You are right.” Even though Saul said, “you are right, I am sorry”, David still thinks he is going to kill him. Because he had said it three other times, “you are right.” So, David is not full of trust for Saul right now. David goes his way, Saul goes back to Jerusalem. David goes his way and he starts working with a Philistine, this man’s name was Achish. Achish was a noble man, he was a General, he was high ranking in the Philistine community, he was like one of elite guys, he had an army, he had everything. David had a lot of guys still following him, he had 600 men, plus women, plus children. He works for Achish for about a year and 4 months. And David comes to Achish and says, “look, we are growing, the women are having babies, I got these guys, they are following, we got no place to raise our families, can you help me?” And Achish says, “You been a faithful follower of me” and so he says to David, “I will give this little town down south by Gaza.” It’s a little town between Gaza and the Deed Sea called Ziklag. So, David took all of his family, and all the children, and all the wives, and 600 men and went down to Ziklag, and there he began to do raiding parties all over northern Egypt, down into the Sinai and around the plains of all the Amalekites and Moabites and all these, he began to raid all that and he began to get all the sheep, all the cattle, all the gold, all the silver and all the bronze and everything, began to get all that. So, Ziklag became kind of treasure trove. Achish wasn’t aware of all that. Now Achish believed that everyone in Israel really hate David and David is thinking everything is going great and then ‘the day’ happened. David encounters Achish again and Achish tells him a war is coming, between the Palestine and the Israelites. At the same time, literally, the same time, the same day, as David and Achish are having their meeting, Saul is having a meeting. Same time, same day. In the meanwhile, Saul has issued a command, “find me a witch because God is not talking to me anymore and I need to call Samuel up, so he can tell me what to do.” So, they looked all around and found that all the witches are gone to a little place called Endor in northern Israel. (1 Samuel 28:7). Endor is a small city in the tribal area of Issachar, it was major thriving place of witchcraft and psychic stuff.
So, Saul goes up to Endor and asks a which to find Samuel. The witch finds Samuel and Samuel felt irritated and tells Saul, “Why are you consulting me since God has departed you?” God is no longer speaking to him, God has departed from him. So, Samuel tells him this, “The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 28:19). Saul’s fear comes upon him, he becomes weak, he drops to the floor, he can’t eat, they are afraid for him. She finally feeds him some food later that evening and he makes his way back, getting ready for the battle that will ensue very next day. Meanwhile David and Achish are having a meeting in verse 1 of chapter 29, “The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish.” Achish had been talking to David that morning while Saul was talking to the witch. Achish has been telling David that you are going to go with us into battle and David has agreed to go into battle and we know he wasn’t pretending when you read 1 Chronicle 12:19 because it was the proof that David was about to fight with Philistines against Israel. Fighting against his own people because his own people abhorred him. So, while Saul was meeting with the witch, David is meeting with Achish and Achish says you are going into battle with me, I had made you General over everything, you are like the top guy in everything that I have, and you are going to be celebrated. And the Philistine army was preparing for the war and the General of the Army sees few Hebrews marching with their army and he asked what these Hebrews are doing here with us and he ordered Achish to send them back before sunrise. Achish says sorry to David and tells him to return back before sunrise. Pack your bag and go. In 1 Samuel 28:9, “’But what have I done?’ asked David. ‘What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?’” You said this morning that how great I would be and this evening you are telling me to get out of here. He said even my enemies won’t let me fight with them, I was rejected by everyone, there is nobody else to be rejected by. You can almost see David’s men saying, “we thought we are going to go for war here, this is our chance to become king, we will defeat Israel, we will soon defeat the Philistine, and then David will be king, this is exactly what we want, we’ve been waiting for this hour, we are capable to go with them, we are all ready to go and now you are saying we can’t go.” And you can almost see some of David’s men saying maybe this kid is not going to be king after all. They got on the horses, they packed everything, and they head down to Ziklag. The morning they head down to Ziklag that very morning Saul is marching into the valley of Jezreel to fight. David makes his way down to Ziklag and Saul is marching towards Jezreel, Saul dies that day just like Samuel said, he and his sons and Israel were delivered into the hands of Philistines.
David by the time gets down to Ziklag 3 days later, doesn’t know that but when he gets there the day after Ziklag has been burnt. I am not going to go in that, you know the story very well, you know that Amalekites have taken all of the men, women and children there, all the cattle, all the gold, silver, taken all away. It’s not a pretty site and here is what we read, “So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.” (1 Samuel 30:4). David’s men said we followed this kid, and nothing has happened, everything that happened is bad, and now we lost our wives, we lost our children, and we lost our fortune, everything we worked for we’ve lost, our enemies don’t take us, Israel abhors us, what is this? And it says in verse 6, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him.” Can you imagine that the guys who served you and followed you are now saying we need to kill this guy. David is not only grieving for the loss of his family, he is feeling the loss of all other 600 men’s families, he is now under threat of death. What does David do and here is the crucial moment and it started with this 24 hours period with Achish, here is what it says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (Verse 6). Now, David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Then we read in verse 8, “And David enquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.” So, David enquired of the Lord. Now, get this, David enquired of the Lord after he strengthen himself. What does that mean? David recognized that he was low in faith, David recognized that when I come to Lord, I have to come to him believing that He will act and right now I really don’t believe He will act. I’ve got to get myself into a place of faith in God before I enquire of God. That’s kind of the opposite of us, when problem come in our lives, immediately we go to God before we are full of faith. In fact, we come to God absolutely depleted of faith and expect him to move. David understood the principle; the principle is that never ask God to do something when you don’t have faith. Always strengthen yourself in the Lord before you enquire of Him.
So, what did David do to strengthen himself? What was it that David could do to stir up this faith? Well, here are some of the things he did, and he writes about it. He says in Psalms 77, looking back at that very moment, “I said this in my anguish, I will remember years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord, I will remember your wonders of old.” He remembers these three things- the years of the Lord. He said this in Psalms 71:17, “Since my youth, God, you have taught me.” You’ve been with me through the bear, you’ve been with me through the lion, you’ve taught me through my youth. I give thanks to you. He wrote this in Psalms 75:1, “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.” He knew that if I can strengthen myself, and if I remember that when I go out God’s name is near me, God is not separated from His name. If He is Jehovah-Rapha, He is God who is healing, He is not a God who used to heal, He is a God who is healing. So, he remembered, he started thinking, He will be everything His name is, He will be for me, His name is near me. He has a plan for my life, He helped me kill the lion, He helped me kill the bear, He helped me kill Goliath, He helped me escape Saul, nothing is going to stop my purpose that God put me here to do. He remembered what Samuel had said and prophesied over Him, how great he would become, the king that he would be, the victories he is going to win over his enemies, he remembered this. He remembered that God has chose him before he was ever born. David knew the greatness of God would prevail. He knew that if he could find God’s plan it would work. Now, David was full of faith, now he was ready to enquire of God. So, what happens, he enquires of God and God says go get them. And it just so happened, as they were going to get them, David runs into this Egyptian slave in the middle of the dessert, it just so happened. You got tens of thousands of square miles of dessert and it just so happened that they stumble on to this Egyptian slave and it just so happened that he happened to be the slave of the guy who was leading everything, and it just so happened that he was hungry and it just so happened that David had food and it just so happened that David was kind to him and gave food to him and it just so happened that this guy tells him that I know where they went. And it just so happened that they followed where the guy said they went and guess what- there they were. And it just so happened that Amalekites decided to get drunk and it just so happened that David’s army was able to kill all of them because they were drunk and couldn’t fight. It just so happened after enquiring of the Lord and becoming full of faith, it just so happened.
This isn’t the whole story. You see, had David fought with the Philistines against Saul, at some point of the battle in chapter 31 it says that the archers found Saul and they encircled him and here is what would have happened, if David was there, the Philistine General would have said, “David, if you are with us, go and kill Saul. And if you don’t you are dead, we will kill you. You want to prove to us that you are with us, you said you are with us, you want to prove that you are with us then go and kill Saul. And the very thing that David had not tried to do on two occasions, he would’ve been forced to do. You see, had he fought in that battle, he wouldn’t have got home on time to see the Egyptian slave because he would’ve died in the dessert and he would never find his family and he would lost everything. And it just so happened that had he not gotten there on time to recapture his family he also would not only recaptured everything that he had been doing over the last several years, he also was able to recapture everything Amalekites have taken from other cities because they were going on a raiding party so they had so much stuff. David said this is too much, we are going to divide plunder amongst the twelve tribes and give it away. But that’s not the rest of story. You see what David captured that day from the Amalekites funded his kingdom for the next seven years. God funded his kingdom and David would’ve missed it had he fought against Saul, he would’ve missed everything. He might’ve gained popularity among his men because finally they are fighting but he would’ve lost everything.
God did six things for David; He protected David from being forced to kill Saul, thus avoiding God’s wrath for killing God’s anointed. He provided for David from the plunder he obtained from the Amalekites and funded his kingdom. He propelled David towards his destiny by getting him to Ziklag that faced the greatest crisis of his life and in facing it his men gained even greater respect for him right after they were going to stone him. God produced a crisis at Ziklag that would rally men to David forever. God promoted David by how he led in the time of crisis. And, God pronounced of David by giving him favor with the people.
What is God doing when things don’t turn out like you planned? He is preparing you for your destiny and we are so busy complaining that many of us miss it. We miss the promise. We live in pain because we miss the promise. When we understand the ways of God, we understand that enemy plays right into God’s hand. Enemy took David’s everything, probably around 1500 of David’s men, women and children and slaves. God is preparing you for your future with every crisis and if you will recognize it your destiny become that much closer. If you recognize it your purpose is that much closer to being fulfilled. If you recognize it. We so often give the enemy so much credit, we focus on the enemy instead of focus on the solution. We focus on he who has lesser power instead of focus on He who has greater power.
What is God doing when it doesn’t work out like you planned? He is testing you to see that if He can promote you. There is never test without a promotion. Whether it’s a lion’s den or a fiery furnace. Whether it’s imprisonment or whether it’s chains or whether it’s being thrown into a pit there is always a promotion with the test, if you handle it right. The key is to handle is right, Daniel handled it right, Joseph handled it right. Look in the Bible and you see that they handled their test right. God wants you to handle this test right.