Saul and his son Jonathan lead attacks against the Philistines, with his son’s group overcoming the enemy in the first fight. Everyone gives Saul the credit, and as they progress they get to a place where Samuel is supposed to meet them. Samuel is not there on time, so Saul decides to take matters into his own hands. He is afraid of the Philistines, is not trusting the Lord, and the people are scattering from him. So, he does the offering to God himself. Samuel arrives as they finish, and is appalled at Saul’s foolishness. Saul says he “forced himself” to do it, which is utter ridiculous malarkey, I think. Samuel tells him his continued wickedness has lost him the throne for his heirs. They all continue up to battle the Philistines, but only Saul and Jonathan even have sharpened weapons because the Philistines kept blacksmiths out of the towns the Israelites are overtaking so that they could not get weapons sharpened.
Saul, three thousand men of Israel, Jonathan, Samuel, the Philistines, the Lord
Verse 13-14 “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. 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.”
2 Samuel 24:10 “But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.””
1 Chronicles 21:7-8 “But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.””
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.””
1 Samuel 15:10-11, 28 “The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night…And Samuel said to [Saul], “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.””
Acts 13:22 “And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'”
We must always obey God. We may be like toddlers, not understanding the why of the rules, but if God has told us to do something we will find it far better, in fact the Best, to do just that. I want to have a heart like that of David, who also was an imperfect and broken man. But he was a man after God’s own heart. I want to have a heart that follows after God in all things, too.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“Saul’s official reign begins with a test still to be passed. Does God carry weight with Saul, such that no circumstances can compel him to disobey his charge to wait for divine instruction? Recall that to “honor” God is to give him weight (2:12-36); and recall that Saul’s first charge was to attack the Philistine garrison and then to wait for Samuel’s further instructions at Gilgal (9:26-10:13). In this episode, Jonathan attacks the garrison, and Saul goes to Gilgal. When Samuel is late in arriving and Saul’s troops are deserting, Saul acts foolishly by getting on with battle preparations (i.e., sacrifices) in Samuel’s absence. This shows that, for Saul, hearing from God is not an ultimate concern. In a tight spot, Saul apparently considers other factors to outweigh his obligation, as king, to hear from the great King.”*
Before we jump on the wagon of judging Saul, think about your own impulses. In a tight spot, do you wait for further instructions from God? Or do you make a decision and pray about it going well later without ever hearing God say what to do?
My own example of this is that in Lebanon our son had almost died and we were trying to find a language school. Everything was saying that we would have to put him in daycare five days a week all day long just to attend one or two language classes a week. I was so upset, but I was feeling pressured into this “only option”. But as I stopped and prayed, I knew that God had told me to be a Stay at Home Mom for the first 5 years. While I still don’t know how that figures into daycare and school in the future, I knew in my time consulting God that I would not be putting Davy into daycare, and I would not be attending that language school. We were overdue in getting back to the language school, and yet, we stopped to ask God for directions before running down a path that would not have been best for our family. That same day that I had decided this, Louis came home with a private tutor’s phone number. She is the woman we have been tutoring with ever since, and we are blessed beyond belief by her. It really was best. But in the moment it seemed as though we were doing the wrong thing putting off our decision. But wrong from the perspective of a language school that we did not participate in, so no harm was done to them either. God has a plan for you, too. Do you know what it is?
“How tempting it is in pressured situations to seek security by almost any means other than by waiting on God. But the safest place to be is always in a position of trust in the Lord, whatever circumstantial storms may be raging all around us. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Prov. 29:25). A big view of God brings peace of mind (Ps. 4:8), for “the beloved of the Lord dwells in safety” (Deut. 33:12). The promise of the gospel is not a life free of problems and challenges. God’s people are called to suffering, some even to martyrdom. But despite all the hurts, they never suffer ultimate harm. For the Lord stands by his people, strengthens them, and empowers their witness (cf. Paul’s experience recounted in 2 Tim. 4:17).”*
Proverbs 29:25-27 “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.”
Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Deuteronomy 33:12 “Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.””
2 Timothy 4:16-18 “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
“Ultimately, the promise of the gospel is eternal life, as Paul testifies: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18). The suffering that believers undergo is never the punishment of a wrathful judge but always discipline, guidance, or opportunity from the hand of a tender Father, for Christ himself took our punishment in our place. Saul’s folly betrays his small view of God (1 Sam. 13:13). Saul fails to keep the “command [charge] of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you,” and the Lord appoints (charges) “a man after his own heart” (v.14).”*
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 14:1-14
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