Connections 06.16.2024: Get Over It

1 Samuel 15:10-11, 13-16, 22-23, 34–16:4a

From his youngest days, Samuel has been a messenger for God, first delivering God’s words to his mentor Eli, then to the people of Israel, then to Israel’s first appointed and anointed king, Saul. Samuel has been faithful even when his messages were unwelcome. Now it seems Samuel’s faithfulness through all those troubles and transitions has come to nothing. King Saul has failed to uphold his responsibilities to God, and God will no longer allow Saul’s disobedience. As far as God is concerned, Saul’s kingship is over; God is ready to move on.

Samuel? Not so much.

Samuel invested his whole life in his role as Israel’s priest and prophet, mouthpiece of God to people and king. Now the king—which God never wanted the people to have in the first place—seems to have proven God’s point. Samuel needs to move on, to follow God’s next set of instructions so Israel can move forward, but he is mired in grief. We can imagine what Samuel might be grieving: the people’s failure to listen to God’s desire for them, the failed promise of Saul’s kingship, the loss of his personal relationship with Saul, and even the seeming failure of his own role as prophet. Both Saul and the people seem to have rejected God’s guidance, which was delivered through Samuel, and we can imagine that Samuel felt this rejection himself.

If “the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king” (v. 35), Samuel’s sorrow is just as deep, and God’s prompting to Samuel in 16:1 feels almost callous. God asks, “How long will you grieve for Saul?” It’s hard not to read this in the same tone that someone might say, “When are you gonna get over it?”

I can think of so many things I would’ve wanted to say to God if I were Samuel. Angry things. Frustrated things. Hurt-feelings things. And especially questioning things: I did everything you told me to, so why did it all go so wrong? What do you expect me to do about it? And especially: How am I supposed to “get over it”? But Samuel doesn’t ask any of those questions (or at least the biblical writer doesn’t say so!). Instead, God immediately gives Samuel a new task that will change the story of Israel forever: it is time to go to Bethlehem and find the new king.

Discussion

  • Can you think of a time when you tried to be faithful but things turned out badly? How difficult was it to “get over it” when you had been so sure you were doing what God wanted you to do? What helped you to move forward out of your grief?
  • Can you relate to Samuel’s difficulty in moving on? Do you think that Samuel was able to “get over it” and leave his grief behind immediately when he followed God’s instructions to go to Bethlehem?
  • Moving on can help us “get over” what we have lost or left behind, but we may also carry forward lessons we have learned, or the love of people in our past, or a bigger understanding of who we are. What lessons from past experiences and relationships have you carried forward after a time of grief, anger, or loss?
  • Is there ever a time when we should not “get over it”?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in St Louis, Missouri. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for d365.org and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at amovingyarn.com.

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