“Saul was thirty[a] years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-[b] two years. 2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes. 3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpetblown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal. 5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand[c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven.6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered We up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.“ 1 Samuel 13.1-11
So as we know, Saul was not a king to be proud of. The author mentions how Saul was thirty when he became king and that he ruled Israel for forty two years. This would make Saul currently seventy two years old when this story was being written. It suggests that Saul did nothing remarkable during those forty two years. Otherwise something might have been mentioned or written about him. Here was Saul after his years of being kings but the first story told of him since he was anointed was an act of disobedience against the Lord.
Poor King Saul. He was elevated to king against his will, went into hiding when he was suppose to be announced for this kingship, apparently did unremarkable things because now he’s acted in disobedience by offering the sacrifice to the Lord himself and not waiting on Samuel. This was unacceptable— no one was allowed to offer up the burnet sacrifice except the priests. King Saul was afraid of his enemies, the Philistines had a ton of soldiers, and so he acts rashly. (Why did the Philistines have so many soldiers under Saul’s reign? Did he not attempt to rid the enemies from the land? On the contrary, they swelled to huge numbers.)
And while Saul was waiting on Samuel to arrive at the appointed time, Saul’s army “hid in the cave and thickets, among the rocks and in pits and cisterns. Some even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.” This is not a good sign of an army led by a courageous and godly king. On the contrary, Saul was not a worthy leader of God’s people.
What does it take to be a worthy leader of God’s people? Obedience, faith and courage would be a good start. Sadly, Saul struggled with each of these. Samuel, on the other hand, was godly. He trusted the Lord and thus found favor in the eyes of God.
Can the same be said about us? Do we trust God? Do we rely upon him for every decision or do we try to make our own way? Let’s learn from the poor example of Saul and be people of courage and of faith. Let us turn to the Lord this very hour and trust him with our lives no matter the circumstances.
“The LORD is trustworthy in all his words, and loving in all his works.” (Psalm 145: 13)
“O Lord God, you are good. You are faithful and true. You give us courage and strength. When our love fails, you love remains steadfast. Thank you for the examples from Scripture. Even when your people struggled and turned away, you did not give up on them. You love them as you love us and all your creation. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Help me be the person you called and created me to be. Even in the difficult times, you are here. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen