Monday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 13:1-18 (NKJV)
1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, 2 Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent. 3 And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel had also become an abomination to the Philistines. And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal. 5 Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven.
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. 7 And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8 Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering.
10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “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. 14 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.”
15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men. 16 Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17 Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned to the road to Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18 another company turned to the road to Beth Horon, and another company turned to the road of the border that overlooks the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
Tens of thousands of Philistines were lined up against Saul’s three thousand, and the Lord commanded Saul to do…nothing. But after a week of waiting for Samuel, with a rapidly dwindling army, Saul took matters into his own hands. He “felt compelled” to offer the sacrifices himself, in violation of the Lord’s Word through Samuel. He lost the kingdom because of it.
Saul’s is a tragic story. God had given him a kingdom and promised him even more, but when Saul’s faith was put to the test, it crumbled before the enemy army. He lost sight of God’s power and faithfulness and turned instead to himself and to his own devices.
By nature, we do the same thing. God has given us Christians a kingdom and has promised us even more—providence, protection, forgiveness, and strength to endure temptation and the cross. But our flesh doesn’t believe God will keep His promises, so our flesh tempts us to ignore what God has said and do whatever we “feel compelled” to do to help ourselves.
God’s Word exposes the folly of our flesh and at the same time feeds our faith by revealing Christ to us as more powerful than any enemy and more faithful than any friend. In the face of our great enemies—the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh—God calls on us to do…nothing to save ourselves. For Christ has done everything. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Is. 30:15). Unbelief exalts our enemies and humbles God. But faith will find a God Who is a very present help in trouble.