"And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude; and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits."
I Samuel 13: 5,6, King James Version
"Frozen By Fear"
"No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."
Has there been a time when I have found my life, "frozen by fear"?
How have I let fear control my life?
"Fear closes the ears of the mind."
"F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real"
Every time I have found myself in a hurry to move on a little faster in our studies on the lives of women in the Bible, I'll hit a place in our study where the words leap off the page and it is as if there's a huge stop sign that says, "Don't miss out on the lessons in this story." This is the way it is with the story we find in I Samuel 13. It might be easy to come to the conclusion this isn't a story about women. In fact, while one woman isn't mentioned, this experience happened to all "the people" and it affected the women - every one of them. What's more, the lessons we're going to study over the next few days have a direct impact on our lives today - all of us.
First, Israel got the king they wanted. But once they got their demand, it was as if they had actually set themselves up to be attacked by the surrounding nations who viewed an earthly king as someone they could conquer rather than the Israelites' heavenly King whom the heathen nations in some ways, as in the life of Rahab, respected as the God of heaven and earth. With an earthly king with feet of clay, the Philistines especially, wanted to show King Saul and his subjects how very vulnerable they were and so a host of Philistines, numbered as the sands of the sea, came up against Israel. And the Israelites, who had previously had God to rely upon, were in such a state of fear, our text tells us they hid in caves…in thickets…in rocks…in high places…and in pits. Frankly, there's little left to hide in. The only thing I could think of was that they left town. Well, in I Samuel 13: 7, we're told that, "some of the Hebrews went over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead." Author Edgar Wallace, in describing fear calls it, "A tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack more potent than the snake."
Obviously, fear was a huge motivator in Israel. And in a bad way!
Now I hate snakes. I'm afraid of them. But I wouldn't live in a pit or thicket for fear of a snake. However, this was the exact situation God's children found themselves in. They were so paralyzed by fear they couldn't think straight. And fearful, desperate situations, often propel people into doing fearful and desperate things. This is what happened to God's children. Instead of trusting Him, the God they had been able to count on in the past, when confronted with the fact that they had disobeyed, gotten a king and now saw he couldn't save them, they decided that rather than admitting their mistake and asking God for help, they'd come up with a plan for saving themselves and their crazy plan included living in pits, rocks, thickets and getting out of town.
What a tragedy. The Philistines really thought they had shown the Israelites what a bunch of losers there were. If you had watched the response of the Israelites, I think you would have thought their lives were ruled by fear rather than by God, too!
However, let's not be too haughty and think we wouldn't have responded in the very same way for I know in my own life that when fear has knocked on my door and entered my life, I've often run for the thicket or rocks to do some hiding myself and I rather imagine you may have done the same thing, as well.
I love the words of St. Frances de Sales who so beautifully gives us the perfect advice for navigating the sea of fear that at times strikes all our lives: "We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God." I especially love the last phrase of this quote for by fixing our trust on God, we will "thicket-proof" our lives!
"We believe that it is always better to hope than to despair…
To accept that life will not confirm our worst fears but
will surprise us with unforeseen revelations.
God is above us.
God is below us.
God is between us.
God is within us.
We will not be afraid."
"Lord, give us grace to hold to you
when all is weariness and fear
and sin abounds within, without
when love itself is tested by the doubt…
that love is false, or dead within the soul,
when every act brings new confusion, new distress,
new opportunities, new misunderstandings,
and every thought new accusation.
Lord, give us grace that we may know
that in the darkness pressing round
it is the mist of sin that hides your face,
that you are there
and you do know we love you still
and our dependence and endurance in your will
is still our gift of love."
Fr. Gilbert Shaw, 1886-1967
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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