“Because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king” (I Samuel 15:23b, NLT).
Only two chapters earlier Saul had usurped the priestly authority to present sacrifices to the Lord because he got tired of waiting for Samuel to show up at Gilgal. Samuel had implicitly instructed Saul: “go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I will join you there to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. You must wait for seven days until I arrive and give you further instructions” (I Samuel 10:8).
What part of “wait” could Saul have missed? None. And when did Samuel show up? On the seventh day. Just not by the time Saul expected him to. That’s when Samuel told him:
“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. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart” (I Samuel 13:13b-14a).
What had been Saul’s reaction to Samuel’s pronouncement? All the Bible records is that “Saul then left Gilgal and went on his way” (I Samuel 13:15a). Nowhere do we read of Saul repenting or asking for forgiveness after Samuel spoke these words to him.
Excuse-making, blame-throwing Saul had a string of “reasons” for not waiting on Samuel. He had another pile for leaving Agag alive and hanging onto the Amalekites’ livestock. Hearing Samuel again say that the Lord had rejected him as king did bring some words of confession from Saul’s lips – but not without more added excuses:
“Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded” (I Samuel 15:24).
“For I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.” Was Saul in charge of the army or the army in charge of him? Any man who was intimidated by the very people he was supposed to rule over was certainly unfit as a ruler, but that fact didn’t even register as Saul frantically cast the blame away from himself and onto his soldiers.
Then when Samuel didn’t buy into his excuses, he said, “Please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord” (I Samuel 15:25).
“But Samuel replied, ‘I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king of Israel.’ As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe. And Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else'” (I Samuel 15:26-28a).
We already know that David succeeded Saul as king, but here’s what I don’t want you to miss: look at when Samuel said it happened: “today.” As far as God was concerned, David’s succession was a done deal, even though it would be years before David became king over Israel.
Has the Lord given you a promise concerning something you’ve been praying about? Hold onto it. You may not see it come to fruition today, but if God promised it, it’s done. Only believe.
“Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, God’s Word).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates