A Spiritual Challenge for the New King
March 31 - Nº 90 1 Samuel 13
Saul had just led the Israelites in a major victory over the Ammonites, but the Philistines remained a very strong force to be reckoned with. They found many ways to oppress God’s people. For instance, they made it impossible for anyone in Israel to be a blacksmith. Consequently, the Israelites could not make or sharpen their own metal tools or weapons. They had to use Philistine blacksmiths who charged them ridiculous amounts and often kept the Israelites’ items. Because the Philistines confiscated all the metal from Israel, they were able to construct three thousand metal chariots for themselves! Plus, they had enough weapons for every soldier in their massive army to be well-equipped. Saul decided to organize his troops. He wanted to provide as much security for Israel as he could. He brought together an army of 3,000 men. He put himself in charge of 2,000 of them and placed his son Jonathan over the other 1,000 soldiers. It wasn’t long before Jonathan and his men attacked a Philistine outpost that kept harassing the Israelites. Jonathan’s actions provoked the Philistine army, and they began to prepare for an all-out war! When Saul realized this, he summoned all the Israelite troops to Gilgal. Samuel commanded him to wait there until he could arrive in seven days. Then he would make sacrifices at the tabernacle and pray for God to protect the Israelite army as they went into battle. But when they saw the massive Philistine army gathering on the cliffs nearby, Saul’s troops began to scatter. They hid in caves and behind rocks. They climbed up trees and down into wells. The men who chose to stay with Saul and wait for Samuel to come were shaking in their sandals. On the seventh day, Samuel had not yet arrived. Without asking God what to do, Saul took things into his own hands. He said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And he offered the sacrifices at the Tabernacle himself. Just as he was finishing, Samuel arrived. “What have you done?!” he exclaimed. Saul tried to defend his actions. “The Philistines are ready for battle and my army is fleeing. I thought, ‘If the Philistines attack, and we haven’t offered sacrifices, we won’t have the Lord’s favor.’ You weren’t here, so I felt I had to do it myself.” Saul had disobeyed God! Rather than wait for Samuel to arrive, he had offered his own sacrifices on the altar at the Tabernacle. According to the laws God had given Moses, this was a duty reserved only for the priests (see Leviticus 1 & 3). “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel sternly scolded. “If you had been patient and trusted God, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. Your descendants would have ruled after you. But now your kingdom won’t last. God has already found a man who has a heart that wants to serve Him. That man will become the next king, and his kingdom will last forever.” Samuel turned and left Saul. When Saul counted his men, only 600 soldiers remained.
Have you ever felt like you had to sin? That your circumstances put you in a corner that not even God could get you out of? Have you ever taken things into your own hands? Disobeying God for any reason is sin. We cannot always understand His timing or His reasoning, but we must always obey His Word. When we do, He blesses us!