Call to Worship June 13 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 13

Waiting…Waiting…Waiting… Our electronic devices often use this message when downloading an update or maybe a video. The message is often irritating. We want to read that post, article, or have that app update right now! Following the commands of the Lord and praying according to His commands often has the same message. We wait to see how a prayer is answered. We wait to see the outcome of His providence. If we are honest, most of the time waiting for some understanding of His purpose or for some trial to be over is frustrating. Yet waiting is often a part of our growth in faith to the LORD our God. We must learn to wait on Him and follow His commands, or we will miss the blessing of His purpose, plan, and promises. First Samuel 13 tells of just such an occasion where Saul was unwilling to wait according to the purpose and commands of the LORD. His impatience led to further trial and lost blessing.

The Lord had already given Saul victory over Israel’s enemies and Saul’s son carried out further victory over the Philistines at Geba. The Philistines were angry and looking for revenge. They amassed a great army and camped in Michmash. Michmash was just north of Geba where Jonathan defeated the Philistines and in between Gilgal where Saul summoned Israel to meet him. No doubt the Philistines were looking for a fight.

The Israelites were overall nervous and many were in complete panic. Saul knew he needed the guidance and blessing of the Lord. So he waited on Samuel to arrive at Gilgal and deliver the word of the LORD according to His command and purpose. During the seven day waiting period, which reminds us of our time at the D.M.V. or that federal background check, the people of Israel became more fearful and began to scatter. Samuel had not arrived and Saul thought he was losing the morale and numbers he needed to defeat the enemy.

So Saul took the matter into his own hands. “Saul seems to have waited into the seventh day,” according to D.R. Davis, “but not the whole day-at least this is what 13:10a suggests.”[1] He did not give Samuel until the eighth day, but he went ahead and “forced” himself to offer the burnt offering before the LORD. This was neither his job, nor had he been commanded to take this action. If Samuel was late, then let Samuel accept the responsibility before the LORD. Samuel was God’s prophet and mouthpiece; it was unlikely that the word of the Lord would be late. So Saul should have waited upon the LORD to send His servant to do his own job. Samuel was the person tasked to bring these offerings and give the word of the LORD.

Saul’s impatience proved more devastating in the future than he could have imagined. Ultimately, the Kingship would be taken from his family legacy. In the meantime, he would endure great hardship and continue his impatience with the LORD and His word throughout the rest of His life. If he had only remembered Gideon, he would have recalled that numbers were of no concern to God. The Lord will defeat His enemies with the slimmest of odds. Our fears do not constitute the need for recalculation on God’s part. God had used Saul previously in His time, His way, and by the power of His Spirit to defeat the Ammonites (Nahash). So dwindling numbers and sinking morale were not an issue for the LORD.

God reigns over all things including the known and unknown universe, by sovereign power, eternal plan, and providential workings. He knows all things, owns all things and has purposed all things (Psalm 104). It is wise to wait on Him instead of running ahead of Him. The Israelites impatiently ran to the hills in fear and Saul impatiently ran ahead of the LORD in fear. Both scenarios capture the extremes of our impatience with the LORD and His work. May we learn to lean on Him according to His truth and not our vain imaginations. May we seek to do that which we have been expressly commanded to do and not to take matters into our own hands. Soli Deo Gloria!

[1] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), 136.