Meditations in 1 Samuel 24. Wrong Moves
1 Sam 13:7-10 Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
We have observed the Lord doing all He can to help and encourage Saul become king, as desired by the people, but sometimes the Lord’s help and encouragement is simply not enough. I have observed many people in my life, both in the Bible and in everyday life, and at the end of it all, I still find it a mystery why some people can be all-out for God and others – despite the Lord’s help and encouragement – just appear spiritually obtuse. Every single one of us without exception is tainted by Sin, even more we are not merely tainted by it, it is a predisposition within us whereby we turn to self-centred godlessness rather than the opposite. So why is it we are going to run across a young man who is described as a man after God’s own heart, in contrast to Saul who is characterised by being head and shoulders above the rest, all human wisdom and human strength? It is a mystery, but it is a fact.
Now things appear to be happening very quickly. Back in chapter 10 we read, ““Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” (1 Sam 10:8) Now it would appear that considerably more than seven days have passed since Samuel first met Saul and the events at Gilgal. What is more likely is that we have a word of knowledge or a prophetic word in which Samuel is saying, “After a whole lot of other things will happen you will end up in Gilgal. When you get there, wait there for me for seven days and I will come and offer the offerings required of the Lord.”
Now when he said that Saul no doubt did not realise the significance of it because he was just taken up with all the things that were happening at that moment. Often when the Lord gives us a prophetic instruction that appears some distance off, I have noticed that we tend to diminish its importance which gets diluted by the events before it. That is error.
So Saul becomes king, calls out Israel against their enemies and triumphs over them. He no doubt feels good about that. He and his son Jonathan divide the fighting men up between them and Jonathan goes out and confronts the Philistine enemy so that they rise up and come against Israel in power and it does not look good: “When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.” (1 Sam 13:6,7). Saul meanwhile is at Gilgal but has no doubt forgotten Samuel’s word to him. He needs some support, he needs Samuel and he knows Samuel has said he will come and meet him at Gilgal. He waits and he waits. Six days pass and still no sign of Samuel. The seventh day comes and still no sign of Samuel. Saul is starting to feel desperate, he needs support, he needs the support of the spiritual head of Israel, he needs God’s support, but it does not appear forthcoming.
Something else I have observed over the years is that often the enemy seems to press in on us and make us think it is a critical situation where something must be done. We feel under particular pressure, it seems a critical situation, particularly fraught, and it is in such times that self digs in. It may be in opposing others, holding on to a particular viewpoint, or something else where we feel we MUST hold our position. Saul is in such a position and so reasons that if Samuel is not there he himself must act, so he starts presenting the offering and just then Samuel arrives. The big issue is that Saul is not the spiritual head of the nation, Samuel is. Saul has no right to go plowing in and trying to make God act on his behalf. This is human folly.
Look at Saul’s words when Samuel challenges him: “When I saw ….I thought…. so I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” (v.11,12) He looked at the situation with his eyes, reasoned with his mind and acted – wrongly! Samuel responds: “You acted foolishly,” 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. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” (v.13,14) Samuel speaks prophetically as he chastises Saul. The Law decrees priests or spiritual leaders are the only ones to offer sacrifices to the Lord and that does not include you, so you have disobeyed God, you thought you knew better, and you have shown that you have a wrong heart and so the Lord has chosen another man to eventually replace you, a man who has a right heart. We’ll see more of this in the next meditation.