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One of our greater Christian misconceptions is what to think about a disciplined friend — a friend who has been denied association with the rest of the Christian family.

What is the most loving and compassionate course of action when something like this happens? Samuel, the prophet of God, was soundly reproved by God for his wrong response in a similar situation.

God had directed Samuel to anoint a king over his rebellious people. They wanted to be like the other nations. They wanted security. They looked to Samuel to lead them in religious matters, but they also wanted a leader for battle. So they asked Samuel to appoint a king.

God led Samuel to Saul. Saul was a logical choice for a leader: “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites — a head taller than any of the others” (I Samuel 9:1). Samuel’s heart must have gone out to Saul as he anointed him with oil, gave him a kiss, and commissioned him as the leader of God’s people (I Siunud 10:1).

Samuel loved Saul and prayed for him daily (I Samuel 12:23). His love and concern must have increased daily. The young man he had anointed was faced with the most difficult job since Joshua had led the Jews to the promised land generations earlier.

But shortly after Samuel anointed Saul, Saul began to encounter problems. He started to become proud. His first major battle with the Philistines was a disaster. Saul won the war, but rebelled against God. An all-too-familiar pattern was starting to develop. Saul was becoming arrogant and selfishly ambitious; it was beginning to consume him and his people.

Finally the Lord rejected Saul as king and commanded Samuel to anoint a new king. Samuel was troubled for Saul and cried out to the Lord all night (I Samuel 15:10). He was faced with one of the hardest decisions of his life. To obey God might cost him his reputation, if not his very life (I Samuel 16:2). He had everything to lose and little to gain. Would this new king fail and break his heart again? Would Saul kill him? Would the people accuse him of disloyalty and vacillation? Would they reject him as prophet? Samuel hesitated, and pondered his decision (I Samuel 16). His response would determine the history of his nation.

Then the Lord reproved Samuel: “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?” (I Samuel 16:2). This verse has had a profound impact on my life. In a circumstance that should, humanly speaking, produce grief and sorrow, God commanded Samuel not to grieve. Samuel was to rule his emotions. The Lord had rejected Saul as king and so must he. He was to move on in obedience to God with joy and determination.

Our natural man rebels at the thought that the execution of justice can bring joy and not grief. Our world balks at the Bible’s standard of discipline. But Psalm 101:3 says we must hate the work of those who fall away. The alternative to hating evil works is to be affected by them. The verse goes on to say, “it will not fasten its grip on me.” If we don’t hate evil deeds, they will grip us and imprison us. If we continue to grieve over a disciplined individual instead of abhorring his evil deeds, our lives will be sidetracked — maybe only briefly, but sometimes permanently.

Our hope must be grounded in God’s word. His ways are kind and loving, His path is peace. We must rejoice not only in Him but in His ways. They are above our ways and they are perfect.

In a situation like this we must forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). When Samuel went on, God blessed. If he would have remained static or even sided with Saul, it would have been disastrous. Samuel’s obedience resulted in blessing for himself, Israel, and ultimately the whole world. David was to be king and his line was to produce Jesus.

Never grieve over the direction of God. The blessing of the Lord makes rich and He adds no sorrow to it (Proverbs 10:22). Vacillation, unnecessary grief and hesitation will bring disaster.

Tom Schroeder is director of publications for Great Commission International. Tom lives in Wheaton, Md., with his wife Beverly and their four children.

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