Wise Living: Patience

This morning, we’re continuing our message series on wise living where we’ll be taking the wisdom of God found in scripture and practically applying it to issues that we face every day. We’ve learned what wisdom itself is and how to receive it.

We know that wisdom is taking accurate information and applying it effectively to our lives. It’s not just knowing information, but it’s living it out.

So far, we learned how to be wise with our anger, the secret to being content in life, and having peace. This week, we’re going to take a look at having patience.

No one likes to wait.  Unfortunately, waiting is one of those things that we must expect to happen in life.  Whether it’s a doctor’s office, grocery store, or road construction; delays are inevitable.  Despite this fact, we still live in a culture where we have an expectation to get what we want, when we want it, and exactly how we want it.
In dark contrast, scripture calls us time and time again to wait on the Lord.
Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 33:20
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Micah 7:7
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Regardless of the circumstances, being forced to wait creates one of two atmospheres in our life depending on the response that we choose.
The first is a high pressure atmosphere full of fear, worry, and doubts where waiting is not an acceptable option.  In this atmosphere, it’s highly likely that we’ll take whatever shortcuts are available, which usually lead to some very regrettable and foolish decisions.
The second is a peaceful atmosphere full of patience, faith, and trust where waiting is expected and accepted.  In this atmosphere, we carefully seek out all available options and take time to prayerfully seek God’s wisdom and only make a decision once clarity and certainty are sensed.
The atmosphere which God desires us to have is, of course, the second.  Living wisely in this way sustains our life to the best of our ability and reassures us of the faith and trust that we have in our sovereign and faithful God.  Both atmospheres face the same circumstances and the same decisions, but the chosen response is as different as night is from day.
Throughout scripture, we find many men and women who were forced to wait on God.  We see many times where God would give someone a promise and then find that His promise didn’t quickly come to pass, but often took much time and even harsh opposition before being completely fulfilled.
This morning, we’re going to take a look at just one of those examples and find wisdom in how to be patient and hopeful and to live wisely.  We want to be sure to avoid rushed shortcuts and make for certain that we walk into God’s full plan for our lives and allow Him to take us through any seasons of preparation that is a part of that plan with patience and trust.  We’ll see how to wait on God.
This morning, we’re going to take a look at the calling and life of a man after God’s own heart; David.
Turn to 1 Samuel 16.  First, however, we’ll quickly go over some Biblical history for the background of where we’re picking up today.  God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that God would be their God.  God also promised to give the land from the river Wadi of Egypt to the great river Euphrates for them to dwell in.  He warned him that his descendants would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years there, but would be delivered from it and come out with great possessions.
All of this came to pass just as God had promised and Abraham’s descendants, the nation of Israel, found that they wanted to be like all of the other nations.  They rejected God as their king and demanded that they be given a man as their king to lead their battles.  Despite the prophet Samuel’s warning of how oppressive it would be for them to have such a king, they still demanded one.  Therefore, God raised up Saul as their first king.
As time went on and Israel continued to defeat their enemies in order to possess the land promised to them, King Saul disobeyed the Lord and was rejected as king of Israel.  Although the prophet Samuel was mournful of this rejection, he was obedient to the Lord and went out to anoint the next king of Israel as he was asked to do.  This is where we first find David.  The Jewish historian Josephus estimates that David was only ten years old at this time.
1 Samuel 16:1-13
1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace? ”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.

So here we see the youngest and least likely son of Jesse is anointed as the next king of Israel.  When David was chosen by the Lord, he was simply a boy approximately ten years old tending his father’s sheep.  He would not assume his position as king over all of Israel for another twenty years.  During this season of waiting, however, we see that even in this seemingly mundane task of tending sheep, David was being prepared by the Lord for the great task before him.
We can gain insight from this during our seasons of waiting as well.  We see that David’s circumstances in life did not immediately change.  Even after receiving this great anointing from a great leader such as Samuel and having the Spirit of the Lord come powerfully upon him, David remained humble and there is no indication in scripture that he viewed himself or others any differently because of this.  In fact, as we continue on, we see that David went right back to his task of tending his father’s sheep.
1 Samuel 16:14-23
14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep. ” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Here we find that David had been spotted playing the Lyre while tending his sheep.  We also see that not as a result of boasting in himself nor his abilities nor doing anything any differently, David is taken from tending his father’s sheep and placed in a very notable place of honor as one of King Saul’s armor bearers.
We see that David did not make any effort to change his circumstances in life, he was not in any way pursuing a position in Saul’s service.  He did, however, worship the Lord while in his existing circumstances.  This is a great key in waiting on the Lord and gaining patience.  God orchestrated the circumstances and promoted David because of David’s heart.  He was noted to be a brave man and warrior with whom the Lord was with.
While we’re waiting on the Lord, we also should worship Him.  Wherever we are at and whatever we are doing, people should be able to note that the Lord is with us.  Sometimes, this fact is most notable in the midst of hardship and trouble.  Stand firm on His word and His promises and do not be moved.  Praise God in faith for what He is going to do and boast in Him alone and not in your circumstances.  They are only for a season and will pass.  God never promised us freedom from trouble; only that we would face trouble, but that He would never leave us nor forsake us.  We must trust in Him no matter what we are facing.
Next, we see that while we are waiting on the Lord, that there will be opposition.
1 Samuel 17
1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span (9′ 9″). 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (125 lbs.); 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels (15 lbs.). His shield bearer went ahead of him.

8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other. ” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

Here we see embodied the two atmospheres mentioned earlier that result from waiting.  For forty days, this same Philistine had been coming out and taunting the Israelites.  The Israelites were fearful, worried, and doubted the Lord’s ability to defeat such a powerful and large warrior such as Goliath.
David, however, facing the exact same circumstances was filled with peace, faith, and trust.  He knew from experience that he could depend on the Lord to defeat this opposition just as He had helped him so many other times before while tending his father’s sheep.
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals! ”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

How was a young boy like David able to move forward in victory while the whole rest of the army of Israel just waited in fear?  David knew who God was and he knew who the enemy was.  David came in and without any hesitation was able to proceed because he knew who God was and knew that this Philistine was opposing the living God.  He recognized the curse of the enemy and knew that as he moved in obedience to defeat God’s enemy, God would honor his obedience just as He always had done before.  He served God during his season of waiting.
Too often, we retreat and wait in fear from an enemy whom God has already given us the authority over.  David didn’t need to wait on direction from the Lord about what to do with the Philistines because God had already made it clear to Israel what to do with them.  We also must cling to what we know the Lord has called us to and to be faithful in serving Him while we are waiting.
There are, however, times when defining who the enemy is isn’t quite so clear.  We find that throughout the rest of the book of 1 Samuel, during the bulk of the twenty years between David’s anointing from Samuel and the time that he actually assumed his position of King over all of Israel, Saul became one of David’s strongest opponents.  The man whom God had anointed as the first king over Israel had been rejected and became more and more jealous of David as David became more and more successful.  As Saul recognized the calling of God on David’s life, he was threatened and spent the rest of his days chasing David in attempt to take his life.
David had several opportunities in which he could have easily taken a shortcut to the throne and killed Saul.  However, because Saul was the Lord’s anointed and still held the authority as the King of Israel, David remained obedient to God despite such powerful opposition and temptation.  Although tempted by his own men who reminded him of a prophetic word and having the right to take Saul’s life in order to defend his own, David kept his trust in the Lord.  Because of David’s obedience during his season of waiting, he was richly blessed by God when he finally did take the throne and ruled the nation righteously and prospered it greatly.
Let’s look at just one of these opportunities that David had to take the shortcut, yet refused.  We also can gain great insight here to see that there is wisdom in being patient and remaining obedient to the Lord.  Despite how tempting it might be to take the obvious shortcut, we must trust that God knows what is best and lean into Him and not into our own understanding.  Having this type of obedience and patience results in a blessed life.
1 Samuel 24
1 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi. ” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds, ’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family. ”

22 So David gave his oath to Saul.

In closing, we’re reminded by the life of David to be a wise and patient people and to wait on the Lord. We’re reminded during seasons of waiting to avoid the high pressure atmosphere full of fear, worry, and doubts where waiting is not an acceptable option.  To avoid taking whatever shortcuts are available and making some very regrettable and foolish decisions.
We’re reminded to instead to choose a peaceful atmosphere full of patience, faith, and trust where waiting is expected and accepted.  Where we carefully seek out all available options and take time to prayerfully seek God’s wisdom and only make a decision once clarity and certainty are sensed.
While we’re waiting, remember to:
1. Worship the Lord in our circumstances
2. Expect opposition to His promises
3. Serve the Lord in our circumstances
4. Remain obedient and refuse shortcuts