Reading through the Bible together
Saul was about thirty years old when he began to rule as king. One or two years later, he had to face the Philistines in battle. From all over Israel, thousands came, but from these Saul chose three thousand and sent the rest home. One thousand he put under the command of his son Jonathan, and two thousand he kept for himself. But the Philistines came against him with three thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and an unimaginable large army. When the men of Israel saw this, they knew how dangerous it was to go to battle being so outnumbered, and the people living in the area, went and hid in caves, and holes in the ground.
Samuel had told Saul that he would come in seven days to offer sacrifices to the Lord and to pray for him. But Saul became impatient and on the morning of the seventh day he decided to offer the sacrifices himself. In God’s providence Samuel had been slightly delayed, but as soon as Saul finished offering the sacrifices, Samuel arrived and Saul went out to greet him.
Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul answered, “When I saw my men so frightened and the local people scatter, as well as the Philistine forces grouping themselves together ready to attack, and you hadn’t come yet, I felt compelled to offer the sacrifices myself.” Samuel said, “You have been very foolish. You have not obeyed the command of the Lord to wait. If you had obeyed and waited, He would have established you kingship over Israel forever. But now your kingdom will be given to someone He has chosen, a man after His own heart.” Then Samuel turned to go back home, and when Saul counted the men still with him, only six hundred were left.
The other problem that Saul faced was there were no blacksmiths in Israel to make swords and spears. Even when they needed farming tools they had to go to the Philistines to have them made and sharpened. So on the day of battle the Israelites had neither swords nor spears, except for Saul and Jonathan. God had permitted matters to come to a crisis to rebuke the obstinate disobedience of Saul and to teach His people a lesson of humility and faith.
We should look to the revealed will of God and walk according to His commandments, no matter what the circumstances that surround us. God will take care of the results. By faithfulness to His word we may in time of trial show that the Lord can trust us even in difficult places to carry out His will and honor His name (PP 622, 623).
Jack J. Blanco
Southern Adventist University