Monday 25 February, 2013

1 Samuel 13:1-15

1 Saul was 30 years old when he became king. He ruled over Israel for 42 years. 2 He chose 3,000 of Israel’s men. Two thousand of them were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel. One thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Saul sent the rest back to their homes. 3 Some Philistine soldiers were stationed at Geba. Jonathan attacked them. The other Philistines heard about it. Saul announced, “Let the Hebrew people hear about what has happened!” He had trumpets blown all through the land. 4 So all of the people of Israel heard the news. They were told, “Saul has attacked the Philistine army camp at Geba. He has made Israel smell very bad to the Philistines.” The people of Israel were called out to join Saul at Gilgal. 5 The Philistines gathered together to fight against Israel. They had 3,000 chariots and 6,000 chariot drivers. Their soldiers were as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash. It was east of Beth Aven. 6 The men of Israel saw that their army was in deep trouble. So they hid in caves and bushes. They hid among the rocks. They hid in pits and empty wells. 7 Some of them even went across the Jordan River. They went to the lands of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal. All of the troops who were with him were shaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, just as Samuel had told him to. But Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal. And Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the friendship offerings.” Then he offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as Saul finished offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “I saw that the men were scattering. I saw that the Philistines were gathering together at Micmash. You didn’t come when you said you would. 12 So I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down to attack me at Gilgal. And I haven’t asked the Lord to show us his favor.’ So I felt I had to sacrifice the burnt offering.” 13 “You did a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You haven’t obeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. If you had, he would have made your kingdom secure over Israel for all time to come. 14 But now your kingdom won’t last. The Lord has already looked for a man who is dear to his heart. He has appointed him leader of his people. That’s because you haven’t obeyed the Lord’s command.” 15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Saul counted the men who stayed with him. The total number was about 600.

The most glaring point in this passage is King Saul’s disobedience and the consequential loss of his kingdom.  Sadder still is the fact that God is going to find a new king – a man after His own heart.  Saul is not that man.

We need to look at why Saul was disobedient.  King Saul had demanded his men rise in revolt against the Philistines and they were very much outnumbered.  Saul’s army was hiding, fleeing and, at best, trembling with fear.  All very understandable under the circumstances.  It can’t have been easy to hold your nerve when your men are diminishing in number around you.  Saul knew his help was to come from God, he even waited the appointed number of days for Samuel to come but then he took matters into his own hands.  He felt pressured and needed to act so he did the offering himself, knowing it to

be wrong.  Did Saul trust God enough in the face of dire circumstances?  Could he hang on when things didn’t go as expected?

Like Saul we usually know to look to God for help.  Can we trust Him fully though when things go from bad to worse or when the timing of an event or circumstance is prolonged?  It’s so easy to want to do something, to meddle, in effect.  It is harder to trust and be patient but this is often the response God wants from us.

Dear Lord,  help me to trust in your goodness and faithfulness. Please give me strength and patience when I’m tempted to take matters into my own hands.  Amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

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