Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 1 Samuel 14:19
Israel was engaged in battle with the Philistines. Saul has commanded the priest to bring the ark, presumably so he could inquire of God for direction in the battle. As the priest is inquiring, Saul hears the noise of battle and becomes aware of a shift in circumstances – the enemy is fleeing. He decides there is no longer any need to inquire of the Lord. He instructs the priest to “withdraw his hand”, and then engages in the battle. He has in essense just told the Lord “nevermind”. Not a wise move. But then Saul was not especially well known for his wisdom in dealing with the things of God.
For several days this phrase stayed with me – withdraw your hand. I couldn’t seem to get away from it – a sure sign that the Lord had something more to show me about this verse. The moment of revelation came earlier this week during my prayer time. Several months ago I had begun crying out to the Lord to increase my love for others. This prayer was answered in some amazing ways, bringing much joy into my life as I saw the hand of God at work in this area. But then a few days ago I realized that the love was all but gone and I began to question why. In answer to my prayer the Lord brought this verse to my mind again – withdraw your hand.
There are times when I am deeply aware of my deficiencies and failures. At these times I become desperate for the Lord to change me and I seek Him earnestly to do that. And He is always so faithful to answer. But as He begins to work and I see change, I cease to pray, thinking that all is well with me now. And my life becomes characterized by this verse in Galatians 3 “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
What is it about us that we so strongly resist the dependence that the Lord requires in order to bring about true Christ exalting transformation? Preferring our own efforts, we miss the beauty of fellowship with our Lord that takes place during these times of seeking Him to guide and lead us into victory over the Philistines in our own lives.
Oh Lord, I know not how to battle, I know not how to fight, but must have Your guidance and Your hand at work in my life. Should you withdraw Your hand and leave me to my own devices, defeat is certain. Help me to ever humble myself under Your mighty hand.