Saul was the first king of Israel. The plan of God was for his kingdom to continue through his descendants. In 1 Samuel 13 is an account of a situation that occurred in the second year of Saul’s reign. The Philistines were attacking the kingdom and the prophet Samuel arranged to meet the king on a specific day and time to offer the burnt offering. The prophet was delayed and Saul chose not to wait. He offered the sacrifice which was a duty reserved solely for the priesthood. His impatience ended up costing him the entire kingdom!
When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. (1 Samuel 13:6-12)
Saul presented the offering because of the pressure of having the people look to him for answers. He knew that he was not doing the right thing when he offered the sacrifice and notice what he told Saul in verse 12 – “I forced myself therefore”. This was simply an excuse for doing something that he knew he shouldn’t be doing. We have all had situations where the pressure was on and we made decisions that we shouldn’t have. Our natural tendency is to try and blame someone else for our poor decisions.
“My boss didn’t give me a choice.”
And the man (Adam) said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12)
“It was my husband’s fault”
The urge to shift blame and make excuses for our poor decisions has been with us since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. It is easy to look at Saul and point fingers but can any of us really say we would not have made the same choices if we were in his position?
Saul acted when he should have been resting on the promise that the prophet would show up. A major key to our being able to walk in the plan of God is learning to rest when everything around us is screaming for us to act. The nation of Israel was under attack, the people were looking to the king for deliverance, and the prophet was late. This was a high pressure situation! The right course of action for Saul was to do nothing. The prophet had promised to come but when he was delayed Saul took matters into his own hands. There will always be a “plan b” or “plan c” that will seem to work when we are under pressure but God’s “plan A” will always be the best choice.
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