“And Samuel asked, ‘What have you done?’ Saul answered, ‘When I saw that the troops were deserting me and you didn’t come within the appointed days and the Philistines were gathering at Michmash, I thought: the Philistines will now descend on me at Gilgal, and I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor. So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.’” (1 Samuel 13:11-12)
So what’s wrong with this picture? Samuel told Saul he would be with him on a certain day to offer a burnt offering to seek the Lord’s favor for a coming battle. Samuel didn’t show up. The troops were drifting away, deserting Saul. The Philistines were rumbling. So, Saul determined that as leader he had to do something. He took matters into hand and offered the burnt offering himself. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that God was looking for someone to be king of Israel who saw himself as more than just a military or governing ruler. He was looking for someone to be the spiritual leader of Israel, someone to shepherd Israel.
Wasn’t Saul acting in a spiritual capacity when he offered the burnt offering?
A burnt offering was to be a spiritual event, but Saul was not offering it in a spiritual manner. How so? He acted out of fear rather than faith. With the troops deserting and the Philistines rumbling, he feared that he and his remaining troops would be overrun and possibly killed. He also feared losing his leadership position. So he “acted” like he thought a leader should act. Fear was his motivation, not faith. Self was at the center of his actions rather than the Lord. And Samuel called his hand on it when he arrived. He told Saul that the Lord was then looking for another to serve as king.
The call of God on the lives of His people is to follow Him in faith, not giving in to fear. Both those who lead and those who follow have the same responsibility: to move away from fear and toward faith. Trusting the Lord is what glorifies Him.
Lord, Help us today to glorify You through trust. Amen.