Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 13.1-14
Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.
Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal. Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13.1-14.
Many years ago I transferred to a new university. On my first day I opened the door to my economics class - there were 40 students in the room but no professor. Fifteen minutes later the professor walks in and starts class. After a few minutes I realized I was in the wrong class altogether. I finally got to the right classroom and after class explained to the correct professor that I couldn’t read a map.
The Philistines were a constant threat and it was his opportunity to lead God’s people in battle, but Saul did not have a great start as king. Saul and the army were waiting in Gilgal, just outside of the territory controlled by the Philistines. Jonathan (his son) raided a Palestinian garrison and Saul took the credit for it out of pride. The Philistines rallied, ready to attack.
Earlier, Samuel had given Saul specific instructions (1 Samuel 10:8) to wait seven days in Gilgal so that Samuel could return and offer sacrifices to God. On day seven the people began to scatter out of fear and Saul became afraid that he would lose the battle without their help. Samuel hadn’t returned yet - Saul offered the sacrifices himself. As he did, Samuel returned and made it clear that Saul would not have a dynasty because he couldn’t place his full trust and obedience in God rather than self.
Saul’s sin here is disobedience to a direct command out of impatience and pride - the notion that a victory was in his hands rather than God’s. Further, when Samuel gives him an opportunity to repent, instead Saul shifts blame. All of which speaks to the condition of his heart and ability to lead God’s people.
Like Saul, we are leaders. Pray today that those around you may see you firmly place your trust in your King in the midst of the threats from the enemy.
Weekly Memory Verse: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.7