As I read chapter 13 from 1 Samuel, I thought about what’s happening in America today.
We’ll learn how fear moves Israel (and Saul) further away from God.
And, the lesson is a valuable one for the USA because we sometimes let fear drive our country – instead of depending upon God to take care of it.
So, let’s take a look at how God rejects Saul for disobedience and the flimsy excuse he gives to Samuel.
Saul Gives in to Fear – Excuses or Disobedience?
“Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.
Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin.
But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it.
Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.”
All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines.
The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.
Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven.
When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits.
Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead.
But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him.
So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.”
And he offered the burnt offering.
As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him.
But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’
So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”
Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted 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.
But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.
And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.
Now Saul and his son Jonathan and the people who were present with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin while the Philistines camped at Michmash.
And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, and another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the border which overlooks the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.”
So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe.
The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes.
So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan.
And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.” – 1 Samuel 13 NASB
First – Pride of Saul
“There’s no ‘I’ in T-E-A-M“.
We’ve all heard that term, haven’t we? Well, in a way Saul used this phrase when he declared that he had attacked the Philistines.
Even though it was his son, Jonathan who fought the battle, Saul took the credit.
As we see here, pride can begin as a very small emotion. Then, it grows if left unchecked. In later chapters, we’ll learn that his obsession and pride will lead to his downfall.
First, only a priest can offer a sacrifice to God during these times. But, Saul did not have time to wait.
He took matters into his own hands although his action was a direct disobedience of God’s laws.
And yes, Saul had a ‘good‘ excuse, didn’t he? After all, he did a good thing by using the sacrifice in order to bring God into his dire straits, didn’t he?
So, was Saul wrong to disobey God in order to save his people? I’m not going to answer this because we each have to weigh that question constantly in our own lives.
But, I will mention that pressure tests character. And, what we do when the chips are down shows who we really are.
Do we always pass the test? No!
However, we do have the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ if we admit our weaknesses to Him.
God is For Us!
Back to the lesson for America (2020)..
The United States is facing its own dilemma today.
Today, America faces COVID-19 (Coronavirus), armed militia in our streets burning and looting small businesses.
And finally, our own police facing death everyday, seemingly with the blessing of some city & state officials, it’s no wonder Americans face a sense of dread!
In other parts of the world, Christians face brutal persecution, slavery and even death for their belief.
Sure, I feel the tension same as you. My first thought is to put out a call to action to stop the violence through violence.
But, in reality our first call to action should be to God. He knows what’s going on.
So, why has God not stopped the sickness, the hatred and the violence going on in our world?
I’m sorry but I don’t have the answer.
I remember the answer my Uncle Hazel used to give when I’d ask; “Is it going to rain today?” He’d simply answer:
“I’m not running that job this year.”
Funny, but we’re not running God’s job either! He could be testing our patience. He could take care of the situation tomorrow. We could come up with a hundred theories.
Truth is, He will act when the time is right – within His will.
The good news? As followers of Christ, God is on our side. As we’ve read before in Matthew 28:20;
“teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
So remember, no matter what’s going on in our country, or in the world, God is always on our side.
We may do what we feel is best for the short run (like Saul).
But, God will take care of us in eternity through Christ.
If you would like to discover how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to see John 3:16 here.