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Chapter Thirteen (ESV)
8 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
- Reading the text, we can surely sympathize with Saul for his action. Samuel is late, and the survival of Saul and the nation is doubtful unless someone acts very quickly, and, if anybody, Saul certainly seems to be the right man to do so. But the text insists that Saul should have waited, nonetheless, and not taken upon himself what God had called Samuel to perform. His seemingly reasonable impatience leads him to a rash act that will ultimately cost him and his heirs his kingdom forever. Once again, “to obey is better than sacrifice” (15:22).
- Saul’s offering of sacrifices was seen as a lack of trust in God, motivated by fear of losing his position and power. He reduced the concept of king to military terms, believing that his authority as king depended on his success in battle. Through a seemingly inoffensive act, disguised as an act of worship, Saul forfeited his kingdom. Instead of living in the fear of God, he lived in fear of the Philistines, and the consequence of this was that he would no longer be king.
- From now on, the story will be the dismantling of Saul as king, and it would have nothing to do with the Philistines. It will have been caused from within, by Saul’s alienation from God. Therefore the inner world of the heart is far more real a battleground than the outer world of nations warring against nations.
Am I aware of the battle going on inside my heart? How am I doing? Sit quiet with God and listen to what God wants to say to me about my inner struggle.