Thursday after the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 13:1-14 (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.”
Impatience leads to so many foolish actions every day, from risky driving to athletes taking steroids, to pre-marital sex, to cheating in business. The flesh wants its desires met NOW!
Saul’s impatience with the Lord’s servant leads him to do what God had not given him to do. Instead of reckoning that the prophet would be there for the pre-battle sacrifice whenever the Lord so willed it, he caved in to his own fear and that of the people. So that there might be a sacrifice in accord with his timetable, Saul goes through the correct motions, as if it were that outward display that ought to bring Yahweh’s blessing. Samuel makes it clear that Saul’s actions exalted him over the Lord and His commands, so that his attempted theft of God’s kingship would now deprive him and his family from remaining on Israel’s throne.
Many Lutherans in the United States have developed traditions that are after the pattern of Saul: if a pastor isn’t available (or, they think, “affordable”), they enlist others to preach and teach, and even to administer the sacraments. Or they simply go to a less faithful parish, or one that is affiliated with false teachers, because they think it is better, apparently, to be served refuse every week than to receive the healthy and wholesome nourishment of God’s pure Word, however often the Lord would present it. Such, though, is not sanctifying, but profaning the Name of our Father in Heaven!
Lord grant us patience, in the Name of Jesus, to trust that You provide always what is best for us, so that our only consideration in all things is faithfulness to You, even as You are always faithful to us. Amen.