Title: Waiting for Ministry
1 Samuel 16:6-13
Written by: Paul J. Bucknell
Waiting for Ministry on 1 Samuel 16:6-13 discusses the man eager to serve the Lord fulltime and the frustrations about waiting for it to happen.
Called into Ministry?
A person eager to serve the Lord will often find himself hindered from going into full time service. How should he respond to these situations?
This kind of frustration is not uncommon in the scriptures or real life! I know some people who are scared about being called into the ministry. They are not waiting! They are trying to avoid full time service. Perhaps they have seen what it costs. But this is not the problem we are focusing on today.
Another group of people are eager to get into ministry. They can’t wait for the opportunity. They have worked through the other issues. Now they are ready, but they can’t go. It seems God isn’t now ready! Fortunately, we have a lot of different scriptural teachings to help us get a grasp on this situation
Everyone is different
We must first recognize that though we will note a general pattern in how God works, we will find that not everyone seems to fit into it the same way. Part of this stems from the different training each of us has. Some are starting ahead of others. They need to catch up on the basic heart training. Others are called to more difficult tasks. Others need specialized kinds of training.
Temptations are much greater for some responsibilities than others. We don’t know what others or even ourselves will face. We should trust the training that God sees is necessary for each individual. If we compare ourselves with others, then we put our judgment above God’s. This is a snare, and we will feel restless and frustrated.
I personally know of lots of men who are in one stage or another preparing for ministry. While some of their circumstances are different, some also are similar. As I hear their testimonies, I realize that many are ‘held’ up because of differing circumstances. Some of them face parental objection, others lack their spouse’s full support, still others lack direction. Some think money is the problem. Still others have a ‘faith’ problem. “Can I really do it?”
God is very interested in training. Training is a specialized aspect of discipleship. God is able to use all sorts of situations to test and train our hearts. Our trained hearts are the foundation of a great ministry. Note the kinds of training God provides through His Word.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The trainings all point to a changed person who is equipped for ministry.(1)
An untrained heart will eventually lead to great disappointment by others as well as toward oneself. Just think of King Saul. He was a great disappointment. He was such a poor king that God sent Samuel out to look for a replacement. Let us look at David’s situation to get a greater feel for God’s self-designed training program that He has set up for each one seeking service.
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Every Christian in fact is expected to serve. God equips them with gifts to serve and because of this, every Christian is being trained by the Lord. But we should not be ignorant of special training necessary for those involved in full-time service.1 They have become a special target of the evil one because of their increased influence. They will be doing the equipping. If they do a poor job, those associated with them will not properly serve.
God chooses David
God looked through the nation of Israel and chose David. He chose David in spite of his lowly origins. He was from a small Judean town named Bethlehem and cared for sheep. David was also the youngest of the family. God sent Samuel to choose David. We need to ask ourselves, “Why did God choose David.”Selection is one matter; training the next. But if we fail in the selection process, then we will definitely fail in the training process. Let’s look at what God says about His means of selecting David.
Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:9-13)
Choosing the right person is so important. Of course, the right person assumes that there was training even earlier on in life to make that person the ‘right person.’ Samuel learned his lesson. God’s reproof in verse 6-7 brought about a corrected perspective so that he could go discern the Lord’s voice. Let’s look at what he what God said to Samuel.
Well, with all the information that God has, what becomes the critical information that He judges from? This passage says that He judges the heart. Of course this is not the only place the scriptures attest to the importance of the heart. God wants us to love Him with all our heart, mind and soul. As the source of our affections, our heart becomes the place where our desires will eventually follow. For a time, other factors might shape us. But in the end it is the chief affections of our heart. We desperately need God to help us see our heart for what it is.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
”Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15).
Waiting for Ministry
We need to visit David in one more place, though, before we close. This is where the chief frustration comes in. David is the right man. He has the right gifts. He even has been trained by Saul in royal and governing affairs by being his acquaintance. He is talented, handsome, accepted by the people and proven himself in battle. He has had enough taste for what is coming that makes this next stage unbelievably hard. David was already anointed as king. All he was waiting for was for the opening. He was wise enough not to ‘force’ the opening. He easily could have. Why is it then that God had David hunted about the wilderness area for such a long time? God could have taken King Saul’s life. He was already rejected. But like a mad dog on a leash, Saul with his great army kept running after David and a few men.
Let’s think how God could have made life easier for David.
God could have held off anointing David until later. Anointing David as king got his expectations up real high.
- God could have shortened Saul’s life. In goes the good king David.
- God could have held back the anointing of the Spirit for a longer time so that others and he would not have so readily seen him as a good potential for kingship.
Saul’s pursuit of David took place over a number of years. David literally ran as a refuge from city to city seeking to save his life. No one including David could figure why this time and kind of training was important. It was not an hapless period. As we look back, we see there are a number of important lessons for David.
- David proved his loyalty to King Saul and ultimately to the Lord.
Would David kill Saul or spare him? He decided to recognize Saul as God’s anointed? He didn’t at all hurt him even though he had numerous chances. These opportunities/testings are provided for us in I Samuel. One example is found in 1 Samuel 23-24 where he only cuts a small part of his robe off to prove he could have taken Saul’s life if desired.
- David learned to trust God in troublesome circumstances.
David’s Psalms often were spoken from circumstances of being hunted down and mocked. David was anointed and yet was mocked by others that rejected his position. But instead of attacking present authorities, he submitted to them waiting for God’s timing and purpose. Christ so suffered for us. What a demonstration of waiting upon God!
- David identified with the poor and oppressed.
We see that David learned all about graciousness. He gathered the rough and stubborn runaways and trained them into his disciplined men. He also learned to extend special kindness to those who were down and out such as Miphosheth and others. He was a man after God’s own heart. Someone could look to David and find graciousness. They would see God. Power did not go to his head.
- David deepened his reliance upon God.
David learned how to depend upon God. We hear more than 70 times the phrases describing God as his Rock, fortress or strength. He depended upon God. He knew he had no real strength on his own.
- (A Psalm of David.) To Thee, O LORD, I call; My rock, do not be deaf to me, Lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. (Psalms 28:1).
(A Psalm of David.) Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle; My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer; My shield and He in whom I take refuge; Who subdues my people under me. (Psalms 144:1-2).
- David was very gifted but he was not fooled. He learned in the desperate straits of life and death that God alone could and would protect him. He learned to praise God because he was absolutely convinced of the Lord’s greatness. Would it not be good for us to not confuse our giftedness with God’s goodness and purpose?
David was eventually brought to be King, first of just small Judah and then later as king over all the land of Israel. Even with all this training, he did turn his eyes from the Lord a few times, but when confronted, he humbled himself and came back to the Lord. David is such a clear example for us to value the training time God has for us. It is a time to learn and master God’s strength. It is a time to see our giftedness is not the issue but our heart and ability to follow instructions.
Waiting for ministry is hard. We don’t know how long we will be put out to pasture, seemingly being irrelevant as a bee among the flowers. But in those very circumstances we will find plenty of occasions for service. These will be our proving times. Let’s purpose our hearts to pass them that our time in training might not be lengthened and our hearts are fully prepared for the tasks that lie ahead of us.