When Saul requests the ark be brought to the battle, it’s highly implied that he requests it out of superstition and hocus pocus. He knows that God’s presence resides in the ark. He’s also heard of how the ark of the covenant wreaked havoc in the Philistine city of Ashdod in the days of Samuel (1 Samuel 5). He’s in a desperate bind and he knows that the ark has tremendous power.

But at no point in this battle has he shown the faith that Jonathan has. He’s been stuck in the camp, wallowing in a cave, and sitting idly by while the real fight of faith takes place.

Now that an opportunity for “safe faith” presents itself, Saul takes it. But it’s not an act of dependent trust in Yahweh. It’s an act of religious manipulation. If Saul forces God’s presence onto the battlefield, then God is “forced” to deliver Israel.

How similar I am to Saul! I am prone to the “religious game” of twisting God’s arm to get Him to do what I want. I’ll pray, fast, and worship. I’ll “trust” God to work on my behalf. But meanwhile, below the surface, I’m expecting Him to do something on my timetable and in the way I want Him to.

Isn’t that what we are all prone to do? It’s not that we don’t have confidence God will act. It’s that we doubt God will act in the way we want Him to or at the time we want Him to.

When we don’t allow our trust in God to trump our expectations, we pigeonhole ourselves in places that are stagnating, deadening, and self-deluded. Meanwhile, we miss out on the real thrill of the battle and experiencing the God who is for us!

Ryan Lunde

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