Robert E. Henson
1 Samuel 10:23-27
23 “And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
24 And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
26 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
27 But the children of Belial said how shall this man save us shall? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.”
This particular occasion in the Scriptures is the introduction of Israel to their new king. It was the time of the coronation of King Saul. The Prophet Samuel used this festive occasion to tell all the people of Israel the manner of the kingdom. In other words, Samuel described to Israel God’s plan. He articulated to the people of Israel the plan of God for the kingdom. In fact, Samuel actually wrote down the plan. Samuel took the time to record the manner of the kingdom.
The Bible then declares to the reader that there were two categories of people in Israel on that day. There was a group of men whose hearts the Lord touched. They immediately opened up and responded affirmatively to God’s plan.
There was another category. The Bible is blunt and calls them children of Belial. Putting the expression in plain language – sons of the devil. They were not open to God’s plan. Quite literally, they were not open to God, for they despised God’s choice.
It is not uncommon to find both types of persons in churches today. Most always, there are the cooperators and also the resisters. A good question to ask one’s self is, “Which type of church member am I?”
God Has a Plan for Our Day
The poignant truth is that God has a plan for our day. Not only did God have a plan for Israel, He has a plan for His church currently; in fact, God has a plan for every individual disciple. Yes, God has a plan for your life!
Now, in order for God’s plan to unfold and be fulfilled, both in our church and in our personal lives, you and I must be open to God’s plan. We must cooperate with God’s plan.
Sometimes God’s plan requires change, and sometimes it is you and I who must change. Let me make it crystal clear; when speaking of change, I am not suggesting that we should discard anything that is biblical. We should never throw away truth or cast off righteousness. However, if we have little idiosyncrasies, or quirks or preferences that are not scriptural, and if they stand in the way of God’s plan, we must become willing to let them go.
Sometimes God’s plan requires changes in the status quo. This is exactly what was happening in Israel when Saul was crowned king. There was a huge paradigm shift taking place. Change doesn’t come easy for most people. This is especially true as we grow older. The further along we are in life, the more traumatic change often is for us and, if we’re not careful, the more resistant we will become to change.
One important understanding senior people must grasp and adapt to is that the church must be kept relevant for young people. The younger generation needs to be welcomed and accepted. This may require the senior members to yield on some of their preferences.
The church must be kept youthful. A good example of this is the area of music in worship services. Youth like some gospel music that’s not the
preference of older people. The mature members must be willing to yield on this, and perhaps other preferences, in order to keep the church relevant to young people. This is a paradigm shift we must negotiate properly in this our day. It will facilitate many young people coming into the Kingdom of God.
Maturing people are not always intending to be resistant. They have just become comfortable with the groove in which they are fitted; consequently, they just don’t want to change.
Comfort or Progress?
Life can become like an old pair of house slippers. I personally remember throwing such an old pair of slippers in the trash. They should have been thrown away many months before I finally succumbed to the inevitable. I just hated to give up those “babies.” They were ragged and even dirty, but oh so comfortable. At the time, I had three new pair of house slippers in my closet. All three had been given to me as gifts that year (it was the year of house slippers!). Oh, how I hated to discard those slippers. Quite literally, I stood there by the trashcan and pondered while looking at them, “Do I or do I not?” I turned them over and almost put them back on my feet. Finally, I yielded to the obvious. With a mournful repose I dropped them in the trash. I went straight to the closet and got out a new pair. I must confess that, though they looked much better, they were not nearly so comfortable.
Sometimes our attitude towards life is just like my thinking about those old house slippers. We want the old because it’s more comfortable. However, you and I must remain open to God’s plan and continue to be progressive.
I have lost the source for the following statistics. However, they still make a veritable point. The further along we are in life, the less likely we are to make a major paradigm shift. Here are the approximated figures for those at various ages who are emotionally and intellectually nimble enough to make substantial and progressive change:
Age 25 – 1 person in 1,000
Age 35 – 1 person in 50,000
Age 45 – 1 person in 200,000
Age 55 – 1 person in 350,000
Age 65 – 1 person in 500,000
Age 75 – 1 person in 700,000
The Need for Sensitivity to God
One of the traits that we need in being open to God’s plan is sensitivity. Sensitivity is to be keenly aware; to be capable of feeling or perceiving; having a low threshold or yielding point.
With reference to our original scripture, when Samuel stood in front of Israel and introduced the new monarch and declared the manner of the kingdom, there was a group of folks who were immediately open to God’s plan. God had touched their hearts. They were sensitive and receptive to the Divine Will.
How long does God have to work with you before you are willing to accept His plan? These positive-minded folks in Israel within a matter of a few hours had hooked their wagons to God’s plan. They also yoked up with God’s man. They were ready to go on and go forward.
Perhaps God has touched you personally at some point in time and given you a word of promise or direction. Perhaps the Lord has communicated to you with assurance, “I have a plan for your life.” It is imperative that you understand that such a word does not mean that it will automatically happen. Let me prove it to you from the Bible. The truth is you must be open and cooperate with God’s plan.
Here’s the proof. In Deuteronomy 1:19-21, Moses was reminding Israel of the address that he had given them some forty years before when they were camped at Kadesh-barnea.
19 “And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”
What awesome promises from the Almighty! Yet Israel responded in effect, “Not me.” The astounding biblical fact is that when Israel turned down God’s plan, they were only eleven days journey from the Promise Land. When Israel turned down God’s plan, it took them forty years to make an eleven-day journey!
Forty years later, Joshua led a purged Israel into the Promise Land. Joshua 11:15-18
15 “As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.
16 So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same;
17 Even from the mount Halak that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.
18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.”
It took forty years and a new congregation, but Israel finally became open to God’s plan. Forty years? Most of us don’t have that much time left to get aligned with God’s plan. We need to become open now.
Then there was that character named Caleb. Through his life we see the rewards that come to persons who are truly open to God’s plan.
6 “Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.
7 Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
9 And Moses sware on that day, saying, surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
10 And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.
11 As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.
12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.”
Caleb reminds Joshua of a promise God had given him forty-five years earlier. When the majority of Israel had not been open to God’s plan, Caleb was open. In fact, no less than three times the Bible uses the term “wholly followed” (wholeheartedly / ATIV) with reference to Caleb.
In the end, Caleb was handsomely rewarded for being open to God’s plan. It will be that way for all of God’s faithful children.
One More Promise
2 Chronicles 7:14, 15 give us a wonderful understanding.
14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place?
The awesome promise from God is that if we will be open to Him and His plan, He will be open to us and our prayers! It’s God’s promise folks; it’s conditional upon our being open to God’s plan.