Ignoring the Lord’s displeasure, the people of Israel demanded a king and God told Samuel to anoint Saul. Some time after this, Samuel delivered his farewell speech, closing with these words:
“As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you. But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away” (I Samuel 12:23-25, NLT).
Samuel promised his continued prayer and support for the people of Israel, but he tempered this with a stern final warning: “If you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”
How were the Israelites to avoid sin? “Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you.” How do we avoid sin? The same way. Sin is spitting in the face of the Savior who suffered and died for us. When I sin, I do it. When you sin, you do it. May we imbed that mental image in our hearts, minds, and spirits so that every temptation to do wrong – either by commission or omission – is met with that picture. And how we should thank God that He forgives!
“Saul was thirty years old when he became king” (I Samuel 13:1a). At this time, Israel was at war with the Philistines.
“The entire Israelite army was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal. The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore! The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in” (I Samuel 13:4b-5a, 6a).
“Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear” (I Samuel 13:7b). What had Samuel instructed him? “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).
Admittedly, Saul and his army were in a scary situation, but still, is there anything confusing about Samuel’s directive here? Seems plain to me: “You must wait for seven days until I arrive and give you further instructions.”
But what did Saul do? “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. So he demanded, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!’ And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself” (I Samuel 13:8-9).
Was Saul a priest with the God-given authority to offer these sacrifices? No. Was Samuel? Most assuredly. Not only had he been serving as judge, he was also a priest who’d been dedicated to the Lord from birth and had been raised by Eli in the Tabernacle at Shiloh – see First Samuel 1.
“Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, ‘What is this you have done?’” (I Samuel 13:10-11a). Don’t miss this, folks: Samuel came on time, but not by the time Saul expected him to.
“What is this you have done?” Taking on the role of priest without God’s authority to do so was no small matter. Just how big it was, Saul was about to find out.
Samuel spoke under the direct authority of the Lord. And when God says “wait,” He means “wait.” What has God told you to wait for? Trust Him. And trust His timing.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates