Some lay great stress upon the external performances of religion,
thinking thereby to excuse their ignorance of God Himself.
Though enemies press,
we are powerless to engage them without God Himself.
We will make progress if we wait upon Him and become assured of divine power.
I Samuel 1
1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Beth-el, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
5 ¶ And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven.
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
8 ¶ And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
11 ¶ And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.
16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.
17 ¶ And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:
18 And another company turned the way to Beth-horon: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
19 ¶ Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:
20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.
21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.
22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.
23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
I Samuel 1 – J. Vernon McGee
1 Samuel 13:1-12 – Saul’s First Act of Folly
The story of a great tragedy! Here was the overcasting of a bright sunrise. The king was certainly subjected to a tremendous test. He had been bidden to wait until Samuel came, before offering the sacrifice, because from the first it was understood that Saul was on the throne only as the nominee and vicegerent of Jehovah. And Saul did wait, with growing impatience, for seven weary days; then, when the allotted period had nearly expired, he “forced” himself and offered the sacrifice. Apparently he had done this within half-an-hour of Samuel’s arrival, because the offering would hardly have taken longer.
The one lesson for us is that the man after God’s own heart will obey God to the uttermost, will wait till the last moment with assured faith, will dare to stand amid a dwindling army and with disaster imminent for the lack of marching-orders. Man thinks God slow, behind the appointed time, and forgetful. Nay, but God is waiting to be gracious—waiting for the precise moment when He can intervene with most effect, Isaiah 30:15, 18.
I Samuel 13:12—I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
This was wholly outside Saul’s province. Samuel had engaged to arrive within the seven days: they had nearly expired, and still there were no signs of the prophet; and Saul, yielding to the promptings of his impetuous nature, took the matter into his own hand, and rashly assumed an office to which he had no right. He protested that he had been very unwilling to add the function of priest to that of king. But this was notoriously contrary to the truth. For some time he had chafed against Samuel’s prerogative, and now sought to supersede the Divine order.
It seemed but a small act, and, to superficial judgment, not enough to warrant the loss of his kingdom; but it was symptomatic of a great moral deficiency. He had not learned to obey the commandment of the Lord: how could he rule? He could not control the hasty suggestions of his own nature, in favor of the deliberate movement of the Divine order: how could he be God’s chosen agent? He acted on the showings of expediency, rather than of faith: how could he be a man after God’s own heart? The restlessness and haste which characterize the present age must not be allowed to affect our service for God; for thereby the progress of the Gospel will be hindered rather than helped.
We must learn to wait for God. He may not come till the allotted time has almost passed; but He will come. He waits for the exact moment in which He can best succor you. Not till patience has been exercised, but before it has given out. In the meanwhile, be sure that your safety is secured; He will see to it that the Philistines shall not come down to overwhelm you.
1 Samuel 13:13-23 – Left in the Spoilers’ Hands
Sternly and sorrowfully the old prophet pronounced the sentence of Saul’s deposition, and suggested that already God had sought and found another prince for his people. In Jesse’s home was found the stripling who in after-years would say: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).
Wait thou thy Lord’s leisure! Bid thy heart stay its feverish beating, and thy pulse subside! To act prematurely and in self-will would mar the divine purpose, and set in motion stones that could not be slopped. “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). Never say, “Circumstances compelled me; I had to do it: my hand was forced”! No, child of God, thou art greater than circumstances and superior to the crowd of base spirits around thee. Wait thou on God, for He shall yet interpose in thy behalf. Allow no circumstances to provoke or excuse the doing of evil. In quietness and confidence shall be thy strength; in returning and rest shall thou be saved.