Steven Furtick - When God Leaves Out Details
This is an excerpt from: What You Call Small
Do you ever have to do that to yourself? Like, take yourself back to a frame of reference where you weren't jaded, where you didn't get used to things, and go, "This is actually really good. What in the world am I complaining about? What am I stressing about? This is actually awesome"! Whatever the Devil tries to tell you… "Oh, this is nothing. This is just a little thing. This is just insignificant". This is something you could have never imagined. This is Ephesians 3:20 in real time. This is above and beyond and deeper and bigger and broader.
What you call small today you thought was impossible yesterday. When you live in it, it seems little to you. Sometimes you'll see people come to Elevation Church, and they'll have a video camera recording the whole time. Let me tell you something. They flew to get here. They drove all night to get here. It kind of checks all of us, because we're like, "Wow! This was on your bucket list to be here, and it's in our backyard". The issue in 1 Samuel 16 is not only about where it happened, though. It's not only about who it happened to, David. I want to spend a few moments talking about who it happened through: Samuel. Samuel was a seer, a prophet. He was never referred to as a priest. He served multiple roles.
You know how we all have to flow in multiple roles from moment to moment…trying to be a student and a son or a parent and a husband or a husband and a pastor or a pastor and a husband and a dad and a boss. For me, sometimes, I'll go into a meeting in the church, and I'm not sure if I should be Pastor Steven or "Get this crap done; I don't want to say it one more time" Pastor Steven. Switching all of those multiple roles can be confusing. There's also a change happening here that is beyond Samuel in that God never really wanted Israel to have a king; he wanted to be their King. They insisted they be like all of the other nations. Not for no reason. They were under attack.
The Phoenician people (we know them as the Philistines), who were really good at making weapons and were seafaring people so they would attack you where you had no defense, were pummeling them. So, as a protective measure, they wanted to build their nation like the other nations. As a protective measure. Not because they were seeking to disobey God, but they were seeking to defend themselves. When does our self-defense become disobedience? It's when we implement something in place to protect us that actually keeps us from experiencing God's presence with us. The king they chose… I don't have much time to talk about Saul. They needed someone who could protect them, but like we always do… When we reach for the wrong thing, we don't realize how much it will cost us, because all we can see is how much it comforts us.
It comforted them to have a king. It comforted them to have a tall king. Saul was tall, head and shoulders above the rest. Saul looked like a king to everybody else, but he never really saw himself that way. Can I show you this? This is 1 Samuel 15:17. Listen to what Samuel told Saul. This is so good. "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel"? Here's why that's important. God had promoted Saul beyond Saul's perspective of himself. Sometimes you are living in a role or responsibility that you have not fully caught up to mentally yet to realize, "This is who I am now".
Saul looked like a king to them, but he didn't feel like a king inside. That became a problem, because for all of Saul's reign, he overreacted. He was hasty. He did the thing that made sense instead of the thing that pleased God. He went by what he saw instead of what he heard. He went by his senses instead of by his spirit. By the time you get to 1 Samuel 16, God is removing Saul from his position of authority. The transition will not be immediate, but it's underway. Saul is out. It's going to take everybody else a while to figure that out. God tells Samuel, "I'm done with Saul. It's not a matter of you praying more for him".
Remember, Samuel had invested a lot in Saul. He had tried to coach him, correct him. There came a point where God got tired of Saul before Samuel did. You know, some stuff God takes out of your life while you're still trying to hold on to it. Some stuff you're not ready to let go of yet. God is just going to take it away. That's what he did here. He said, "How long will you mourn over what I've rejected"? The crazy thing about it was Samuel didn't even like Saul to begin with. It wasn't like they were friends. It wasn't like he was a good, competent king. He made more messes than he cleaned up. He tore down more than he built. He cost more than he was worth.
Yet there's something about losing what you know that doesn't even take into account if you really wanted it to begin with. He tells him to go to the smallest place, Bethlehem, the same place Jesus was born. That's the place where David would be waiting. He tells him to do the smallest thing: "Fill your horn with oil". That was the instrument the prophet used to signify change through anointing. Something so small as "Fill your horn with oil" would lead to something so big: David, the king through whom came our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Samuel has to go all the way to Bethlehem, yet there's one thing he doesn't know as he travels. "Who am I going to anoint when I get there"? It's like God left out the one tiniest little detail that would have been so helpful.
For me, this is confusing. God, if you're going to tell him to fill the horn with oil, if you're going to tell him how to get past the gates with the heifers, and all of that… If you're going to tell him to bring the heifer, then why not tell him, "And, by the way, it's David. So when you get there, skip all the other seven and ask for David". We would do this much just to recommend something to somebody. "When you go to the restaurant, order this off the menu". Right? We would do that for somebody if we knew what was good on the menu, yet it's like God wanted Samuel to have to go through the process of elimination. Sometimes God will take you through the process of elimination.
Now, this isn't just a multiple-choice test in fifth grade where you're crossing off the answers. This is the process of God bringing you to things in your life and going, "No, not that". "But I thought it was that". "No, not that". "How about this"? "It's not that either". What we always think is that the first thing God shows us is going to be his final answer, so then we get frustrated when the first thing doesn't work.
If Samuel would have gone home after looking at Eliab, Saul would have stayed king and the nation would have perished. So, I'm thinking about, what must it be like to be Samuel? This is not a small moment. To us, it's just this little anointing ceremony. To him, this is everything. This is the nation he gave his life to serve. Do you know what's weird? Sometimes people have no idea how big the burden you're carrying is. To them, it seems small.