Israel was threatened by an immense army of Philistines, “as the sand which is on the seashore” (1 Sam. 13:5). Before going into battle against this army, Saul wanted Samuel to offer a burnt offering and peace offering on Israel’s behalf. Samuel, however, had not yet arrived. Saul waited for him not simply for a day or two, but seven days, according to the time Samuel appointed. Many among Israel had already gone into hiding, and the people with Saul in Gilgal were beginning to desert him. Saul, as king, felt he must act. Not wanting to go into battle without first sacrificing to the Lord, he proceeded to offer the burnt offering without Samuel. Just as he finished, however, Samuel arrived.
If the Bible did not record that Samuel later mourned for Saul (16:1), it would be tempting to believe Samuel’s timing was intentional. Samuel gave no apology, nor did he explain why he had been late. He simply said, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (13:13–14).
Adapted from David: After God’s Heart, pages 32-33.
Tomorrow: “We Must Seek the Lord’s Leading (1)”