Saul’s Disobedience Under Pressure

Krista Williams

Day: 13 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 13

1 Samuel 13:13 (NIV) “‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.’”

Have you ever taken matters into your own hands and acted hastily? When we panic or rush, we seldom make the wisest decision. Whenever we feel the need to act in haste, the best thing to do is to seek the Lord and wait. (Psalm 56:3-4) Why? Because getting ahead of the Lord is a terrible mistake, and it can have unpleasant consequences.

In 1 Samuel 13, King Saul jumps the gun and takes matters into his own hands as the hostile Philistine threat is mounting.

Saul gets to Gilgal and sees his army melting before him and the enemy mobilizing against him. He waits seven days for Samuel to come and offer sacrifices. But on the seventh day … Saul panics and acts unwisely by offering sacrifices — an act reserved only for the priest. (Numbers 18:7) Caving under pressure, Saul offers the burnt offering himself to invoke the Lord’s favor. In his fear and impatience Saul sins by directly disobeying God’s command. (1 Samuel 13:13)

Sin is never the solution to a problem. We cannot disobey God and hope good may come from it or that God will bless it.

As soon as Saul finishes making the burnt offering, Samuel approaches. (1 Samuel 13:10) If only he had waited just a little longer. The outcome would have been so different. Can you relate to the sinking feeling of the “if only I had waited” moment?

When Samuel arrives, he questions Saul asking, “What have you done?” (1 Samuel 13:11) Samuel knows exactly what Saul has done. He isn’t asking looking for answers. Samuel is giving Saul the opportunity to confess and repentant — to acknowledge his sin and turn from it.

Instead, all Samuel gets from Saul is an earful of excuses. Excuses like the people were scattering, the Philistines were gathering and you didn’t come. But trying to justify our sin, shift the blame and hide our sin behind excuses will only make matters worse. Disobedience left unchecked always grows. (Saul will disobey God again in 1 Samuel 15:13-15.)

Saul replies to Samuel with these revealing words, “When I saw … I thought” … and “So I felt …” (1 Samuel 13:11-12). Apparently, King Saul is walking by sight and not by faith. He is letting his feelings of fear and impatience drive his decisions and not God’s Word. Bottom line: Saul is not trusting God.

Samuel cuts straight to the chase and says, “You have done a foolish thing” (1 Samuel 13:13). “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you” (1 Samuel 13:13b). In the original language, “foolish” means more than acting unintelligently. It indicates Saul is morally and spiritually lacking in this decision. His foolish and disobedient response to this pressure-filled situation will result in the loss of Saul’s kingdom. (1 Samuel 13:14)

Frankly, Saul did what was right in his own eyes, not what God commanded.

Our feelings can cause us to act foolishly, and left unchecked can lead us to moral and spiritual decay. So often we feel an overwhelming urge to make a snap decision, and later we regret we didn’t wait for God’s timing, trust His plan or heed His Word.

God’s Word reminds us that when we feel afraid, we should trust in Him. (Psalm 56:3) And when we don’t know what to do, we should wait, cease striving, seek Him and He will wisely guide us when we come to Him in faith. (James 1:5; Psalm 46:10)

Prayer: Lord, I confess there are times when I don’t wait well, and I wrongly respond to a pressure-filled situation with impatience instead of faith. Forgive me. When the patience of my faith is being tested, help me to remember to lean even harder into You.  Help me trust Your timing and Your ways. Help me to heed Your Word no matter the wait and no matter the pressure I feel. I want to walk and live by faith and not by feelings. Strengthen me to do so. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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