Mixed Signals

1 Samuel 13
2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes. 3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal. 5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven.

6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.

Pressure

Saul was unable to operate under pressure. He sends the men away in verse 2, then has the trumpet blown to call them back. Saul is unstable and unprepared. There’s nothing more demoralizing to a group of people than a double-minded leader who says one thing and does another. Mixed signals. Instability doesn’t inspire courage, it promotes distrust.

Saul’s lack of preparation gave the enemy time to assemble against him.

Someone once said, “If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.” Saul underestimated his enemy. He sent men home that he really needed to stand by him. It didn’t have to escalate to this level, my God that’s a word for somebody: it doesn’t have to escalate. He sent men home because he figured it wasn’t a big deal. Let me tell you something, if God in His mercy brings it up, His Grace is willing to bring it out. Give your attention to it. If we’re honest with ourselves, there are some wars we’re fighting today because we underestimated the enemy. We shrugged it off, we ignored it, we put it off for another day. We prayed about it, but never addressed it. We spiritualized it, but never eradicated it. That’s how weaknesses become strongholds. And now what you could have put to rest, is robbing your rest. Ephesians 4:27 says, “…don’t even give the devil an opportunity.” 

The Bible says in verse 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns:

8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” 13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

You cannot compensate for compromise. It’s impossible. There is no substitution for obedience.

NO COVER UPS

Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commandments. In Matthew 7:22 Jesus says, Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’… Performance cannot replace purity. You cannot hide your guilt in your gift, and you cannot hide your sins in your service. Mixed signals. Ministry is not make up. You cannot use your calling as a cover. The worship that is pleasing to God is a surrendered life. Saul was not a priest or a prophet, he had no right to offer sacrifices. 

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

Samuel asked Saul, what have you done? Saul said, I thought… stop right there. What are you thinking? The command was to wait. Saul’s like, Lord you taking too long, and he begins to grow anxious because of what he sees. He becomes defeated before he is defeated. Mixed Signals. Fear is making me question my favor. Now I feel compelled to do something that will validate my favor even at the cost of my future. We’ve all had these conversations with ourselves: “I know God has somebody for me, but I’m lonely tonight. I’m trusting God for financial increase but I got bills due today. I know in His Presence is fullness of joy but I could use this hit right now. I don’t think its a big deal. I’m still believing God, but I’m tired of waiting. I’m desperate.” These excuses are the doors to compromise.

There’s a difference between operating from fear, and operating from favor. 

Samuel said. “You have done a foolish thing, You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

THE PROOF IS IN THE PURPOSE

Saul didn’t realize he already had the favor he was looking for. Don’t allow the enemy to convince you to validate what God has already declared. You have nothing to prove to him. “If you are the son of God turn these stones to bread …” Jesus didn’t have anything to prove to the enemy. He said “it is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We are not defined by the enemy, we are refined by the Word of God. I will not forfeit my future trying to prove my favor. Some of us are so busy comparing our lives to others that we don’t have time for the will of God. Saul forfeited his future because he questioned his favor.

Whenever you question your favor you open the door for compromise.

1 Samuel 14:1
One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

Jonathan’s father Saul was operating from fear. But Jonathan was operating from favor. His name means, “The Lord has given.” Favor is in his name. He doesn’t need to be validated, he’s already walking in who he is. The Bible says he did not tell his father. Sometimes favor doesn’t have time to converse with fear. You don’t need anyone’s permission to trust God. “I know you think I’m crazy, but I believe I can take this. Favor is not only on me, its in me. Favor is in my name.” Lift your voice and shout “I’m coming out of hiding!” 

DO ALL THAT YOU HAVE IN MIND

Verse 4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez (to shine) and the other Seneh (thorny one). 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba. 6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

Oh I love it! Jonathan’s mindset: we’re outnumbered but not overpowered.

Verse 7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” 8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”

Keep in mind there’s a steep cliff between them. It’d be more convenient for the Philistines to ask them to come up anyway! Listen: Jonathan’s sign of victory was the presence of difficulty. Uh, oh. That’s when we typically want to give up, at any sign of difficulty. That’s when we start questioning God. Jonathan said, no, difficulty is my sign that God has granted me favor and I’m willing to scale this cliff to get to it.

INTERPRETING DIFFICULTY

Verse 11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.” So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.

Saul interpreted difficulty as defeat, and compromised. Jonathan interpreted difficulty as deliverance, and conquered. You don’t think that climb took it out of him!? He still got the victory, tired. Someone needs to know this:

When you’re committed to go higher, God can give you a win even in your weariness.

Verse 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre. 15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.

God is willing to shake the ground you decide to fight for. But you gotta get there first. It’s worth the climb. You’ve got to decide to come out of hiding, and engage even in the presence of difficulty. Don’t compromise, confront it. The battle you’re in doesn’t have to escalate.