Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. 8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.
10 Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, 11 but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”
Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. 12 So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”
13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:8-14
Have you ever gotten so tired of waiting that you just decided to do it yourself? You told your husband to take out the trash an hour ago, but it's still not done. Asked your children to clean their room, but it looks even messier. Or, you are waiting on a group member to do their portion of the assignment? Waiting is frustrating especially in panic mode.
Saul was Israel's first king. Can you imagine being the first president of the United States? There was no example to follow. Saul had to trust God through the prophet Samuel. In this time period, God spoke to his people through prophets.
Israel was in trouble! A group of people called the Philistines wanted to destroy Israel. The Philistines were much larger and powerful than the Israelites. Saul's men were scared! Saul, the king, was scared! He waited 7 days for Samuel, God's prophet, to show up and give further instructions. There was a war about to happen and Samuel was late! So, Saul decided to take action. He decided to prepare the burnt offering himself to the Lord. What is the problem?
Saul was not authorized by God to perform this action. He was actually prohibited. Back in those days, only select individuals, like Samuel, could take a sacrifice (ex. goat) and present it to God. This was done as a sign of respect, thanksgiving, and atonement of sin. Saul wanted God on his side when he went to war against the Philistines. He wanted the blessing without obeying God's command. Saul's impatience and haste (no matter how legitimate) led him to disobeying God.
Honestly, I see myself in Saul. I know what it's like to be scared and in panic mode. I know the added pressure that Saul must have felt as resources (his men) were dwindling away. As each minute passes, the situation seems to get worse. What do I do? Trust God or take action?! Does it really matter if I lie or steal?
I've been waiting on you, God! Where are you? I can't see you! I can't feel you! What do I do? I can't just sit and wait....
Maybe that was the test. Would Saul trust God and wait for Samuel? Will you trust God and wait before you take matters into your own hand? There is a time to wait and a time to take action. By process of elimination, it is better to wait if action means disobeying God.
Panic, fear, and haste led Saul to disobey God.
Let's learn from Saul. Be careful about taking things into your own hands.
Dear God, I thank you for your Word. I ask that you help us to wait on you. Give us the strength and courage to wait on you when everything looks dark. Give us wisdom on the uniques responsibilities you have given us. Help us to not disobey you or take things into our own hands. Thank you for listening. In Jesus' name. Amen.