Do You Struggle to Trust God's Timing?

What do you do when you're ready to move, but God still wants you to wait?

Do You Struggle to Trust God's Timing?
Photo by Amanda Jones / Unsplash

Have you ever felt God has promised you something for the future, but you’re in a season of waiting?

David certainly did. After being anointed the next king of Israel, David knew God’s plan. Unfortunately, King Saul also knew David would be king, so he did everything he could to kill him. After David's victory over Goliath and rising popularity, Saul became envious and fearful of losing his kingdom to David. This fear turned into obsession, leading Saul to make multiple attempts on David's life.

Despite initially being a favored member of Saul's court, David was forced to flee, becoming a fugitive and developing a ragtag group of fighting men. 1 Samuel 22:2 says, “In addition, every man who was desperate, in debt, or discontented rallied around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.” Under normal circumstances, this would be a fight to the death. Whoever killed each other first would win.

But David doesn’t do this, and on two separate occasions, he spares Saul’s life—one of them being in 1 Samuel 24. Saul enters the very cave where David is hiding, likely to take a bathroom break. As he does, David’s men can’t believe their fortune, and they say to David:

 “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’” Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. Afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “As the Lord is my witness, I would never do such a thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed. I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” 

The statement “I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire” is not a direct quotation from any other part of the biblical text available to us today. Instead, it appears to be a paraphrase or an interpretation of God's perceived will by David's men. Their mindset is clear: David, this is your moment. Take it!

But David doesn’t and resorts to cutting off only a piece of Saul’s robe rather than taking his life. Generous as this might appear, there was still a problem. In the ancient Near Eastern context, garments often represented authority or personal dignity. By cutting off a part of Saul's robe, David was symbolically challenging Saul's kingship, albeit unintentionally at first. As Robert D. Bergen observes:

This act was far from meaningless because David’s confiscation of a portion of the royal robe signified the transfer of power from the house of Saul to the house of David. Furthermore, by removing the corner of the robe, David made Saul’s robe to be in a state of noncompliance with Torah requirements (cf. Num 15:38–39; Deut 22:12); thus, Saul’s most obvious symbol of kingship was made unwearable. In essence, David had symbolically invalidated Saul’s claim to kingship.[1]

That’s why David’s conscience bothered him, or his “heart struck him.” As Bergen notes, “By voiding Saul’s claim to kingship, he was at some level lifting his hand against ‘the anointed of the LORD.’”[2] In the cultural and religious context of the time, respect for the Lord's anointed (the king) was paramount, and any action against the anointed king, no matter how small, was considered a serious offense against God's chosen order.

So, in one sense, David obeyed, but in another, he went too far. And this teaches us an invaluable lesson. Sometimes, God gives us a vision for the future but does not give us a timeframe for fulfillment. This is where it gets tricky. Knowing this is God’s eventual will for our lives, we struggle to bring it to pass. Maybe we give in to the voices around us who say, “This is your time,” or maybe, like David, we take smaller steps of disobedience. We try to hurry up the process when God is still developing our character. But God’s timing is always perfect, and his means of development, however painful, are always good.

When we read David’s story and his submission to God’s timing, we can’t help but think of the life of Jesus and his submission to his Father’s will. Even before his first miracle in John 2:4, Jesus tells his mother, Mary, “My hour has not yet come.” He was content to spend thirty years in waiting, preparing for the moment his public ministry would begin.

In John 7:6, Jesus is speaking to his brothers who are urging him to go to Jerusalem to show himself and his works publicly at the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus responds, “My time has not yet arrived, but your time is always at hand.” In this context, Jesus is referring to the right timing for his public revelation and ultimate mission. He knows that his actions must align with God’s divine plan and timetable, not merely human expectations or the right moment from a human perspective.

This tells us something important. When we follow Jesus’ timetable, we can live in peace. We can enjoy years of quiet waiting without feeling like we need to rush the process. We can learn what it means to be rather than giving in to our fleshly desires to do. In God’s proper time, he will fulfill what he has promised. He does not need our help.

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[1]Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, ed. E. Ray Clendenen and Kenneth A. Mathews, vol. 7 of The New American Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 239.

[2]Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, ed. E. Ray Clendenen and Kenneth A. Mathews, vol. 7 of The New American Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 239.