I am so excited to begin our new message series on King David this weekend. I hope you are as well. It is my prayer that this message series will be a powerful experience as we seek God’s Word and truth. We believe that God’s Word is living and active and that the deeper we dig into it the more we will take away from it. That is why I hope that you will not be content to just come and listen to the Sunday morning message, but will participate together with me in the daily readings and study questions.
At the beginning of chapter 13, it says Saul was 30 years old when he became king and he reigned over Isreal for 42 years. It is interesting to note that Saul ruled Israel for 2 more years than David did. David only reigned for 40 years. It is an interesting bit of trivia, but back to the story.
Saul has 3000 men with him. It is a substantial army. But the Philistine army was said to have 3000 chariots, 6000 charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as sands on the seashore. Saul and his army did not have any chariots or the like. To make matters worse the Philistines were able to forge iron weapons. The Israelites did not posses this same technology. It would not be a fair fight. To give you a modern day analogy the Israelites were bringing knives to a gun fight.
Many of the Israelites saw how badly they were outnumbered and “outgunned.” They began to desert the army. They ran away in retreat leaving Saul and the few troops who remained. We read Saul and the troops who were left quaked in fear.
This lasted for seven days. As each day passed more and more troops ran away. This made it even more fearful for those who were left behind. The men who were left watched as more and more of their comrades fled. It became more and more tempting for each man to make a run for it.
Finally, the army is down to 600 men and Saul decides to take matters into his own hands. He goes to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. This doesn’t seem like much. The army is falling apart and Saul wanted the Lord’s help. But there were two problems.
The first problem was that sacrifices in the Old Testament were to be made by the priests. This was not the role of the king. It was the role of the priest. Saul was taking upon himself what he was not authorized to do. The second problem was that Saul was to have waited for Samuel before this sacrifice was to be made.
This was a time of testing for Saul. Would he remain faithful and obedient or would he seek his own way and do what he thought was best? In the end Saul failed. He did not obey. He made the sacrifice he was not supposed to make. He presupposed God’s will and went ahead and did what Saul thought was best to do. In many ways Saul put himself in the place of God.
Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey” (Luke 11:28). There are two parts to this verse. The first is to hear the Word of God. It is to come to know and to learn what God would have us do. Saul never consulted God. He just forged ahead. The second part of this verse is that when we hear the Word, then we are to do it even when it is the hard thing to do.
It was not long after Saul had committed this act of disobedience that Samuel comes on the scene. Samuel asks Saul what he had done. Saul begins to rationalize his disobedience. He starts making excuses for his actions to justify himself. He never admits or confesses his disobedience to Samuel or to God.
Psalm 86:15 reads, “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” God would still give Saul opportunity to turn from his sin. He did not immediately tear the kingdom away from Saul. We may stumble and fall, but that does not mean God gives up on us. There is still hope. I believe God still loved Saul. God still desired to use Saul for his kingdom purposes. But would Saul be willing to humble himself, confess his sin, and walk in obedience?
Samuel tells Saul the kingdom would be taken away from him. I imagine that if Saul had admitted his failure and gone to his knees and asked for forgiveness that God would have restored him. But it was the sin of pride that kept Saul from asking for forgiveness. Rather than ask for forgiveness, Saul leaves Samuel. I can almost picture Saul walking away angry and upset that Samuel would dare call into question his actions. It is so sad to think how easily things could have changed, but pride replaced humility and Saul found himself still stuck in the same difficult situation being outnumbered and “outgunned” by the Philistines.
Samuel also tells Saul that God would raise up a man after God’s own heart. If Saul would not obey, then God would find someone who would obey. If we do not walk in obedience God will find someone who will. God is not looking for successful people. He is looking for faithful people. The question that needs to be asked is: “will you be a man or a woman after God’s own heart?” If that is your desire then I want to invite you to join me this Sunday at 9:15am as we together affirm this commitment as God’s ONE church at Lord of Life. My prayer is that we would be men and women after God’s own heart!