Israel faces another war (1 Samuel 13)


He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” 13 “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said.  (1 Sam. 13:8-13)

Samuel just gave great advice and a stern warning to Israel to obey God’s commands.  In chapter 13 our focus turns to Saul.  He was told by Samuel, in 1 Sam. 10:8, that he would go down Gilgal and wait for him to come and offer sacrifices.  Saul set out to rally up some troops and go down to Gilgal and remove the Philistine outpost that is in the middle of Israel.  Israel is able to gather up 3,000 troops and when the Philistines see Israel gathering they quickly manage to round up 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen and “troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude” (1 Sam. 13:5).  At this overwhelming sight Saul’s troop begin to scatter and hide in caves.

Saul is getting nervous waiting for Samuel to arrive.  He waits the seven days and decides to offer the sacrifices to God to improve to army’s moral.  Wouldn’t you know, as soon as he finishes Samuel walks in.  Samuel is furious at Saul and questions why he did not wait for him.  Instead of taking responsibility Saul is quick to point out his circumstances.  Saul says the troops were leaving, the Philistines army was growing rapidly, and he points out the Samuel was late.  It was not his fault that he disobeyed God and offered the sacrifices, it was his only option to keep things together.  Through this Saul is cursed by Samuel saying his reign as king will not endure forever and that the future kings of Israel will not come from his bloodline.  These are some big blows to Saul so early in his reign as king.

How do you handle difficult situations?  When it feels like everything is going wrong around you try and take control and fix it?  Or, are you able to seek God and trust that he will show up?  In this story we see Saul trying to fix things by offering up sacrifices to the Lord.  You might ask, like I did when I first read this, why is Saul getting disciplined for seeking God?  Isn’t that a good thing, we all should be doing?  Well, that is a good thing, but it is not his position or responsibility to offer sacrifices.  Also, Samuel specifically told him to wait for him to arrive because he was going to do it.  In my mind, waiting can be the hardest thing to do in life.  I like to take control if things are going well and try to fix it.  Sometimes the Lord wants us to pause and wait for him.  Are there things in your life that you are trying to control but you need to give them over to God?  Pray that God will give you the strength and humility to let them go?  Trust God.  He will show up at the perfect time.