Preliminary thoughts on 1 Samuel 13

So, this week, we’re going to be discussing 1 Samuel 13. The story is probably familiar to most who have been around the church for some time. For the rest, it boils down to this: This guy Saul was “discovered” by the prophet Samuel, who was leader of Israel, in chapter 9. In chapter 10, Saul was installed as king. In chapter 11, Saul consolidated his power with a couple of military victories. And in chapter 12, Samuel gave the reigns fully to the new king. Chapter 13 begins with the statement that “Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years.” It was a great start for Israel’s first king, and one might have thought that the prophet’s warning from chapter 9 – that a king would draw the nation away from their one true king, God – was a bit dramatic. Then comes chapter 13.

After reigning for only two full chapters, Saul was about to face the greatest challenge of his monarchy. The Philistines were back, and the approximately 600 Israelite soldiers Saul managed to muster had no weapons with which to fight them off. The only hope they had was God, and so Samuel was called back into service to offer a sacrifice, to garner God’s protection and strength, and to make sure that He would take care of the Philistines in the battle to come. But Samuel was running late. And when, after seven days, he still hadn’t shown up, Saul decided to take matters into his own hands. He offered up the burnt offering without Samuel, even though he had been explicitly told not to.

How often do we “jump the gun” on God, rushing on to the next thing even after we’ve been told to hang on? We assume God’s forgotten about us or that, somehow, His silence or hesitation implicitly grants us permission to proceed with our own thing and/or in our own way.

Now, there’s a whole lot more in this passage, and I have a lot more studying to do before Sunday’s message. But here’s the thing that strikes me first: Wait for God, even when you think He’s late.

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