(Reading: 1 Samuel 13, 15)
When thousands of Philistines were camped against Israel, Samuel was coming down to Gilgal to offer sacrifices to the Lord. Saul and the frightened people gathered there waiting. When Samuel did not come by the seventh day, Saul made the offering himself, though he was not a priest. Saul had an explanation that satisfied him, one that perfectly justified his presumption. How could Samuel – and God – not understand his reason?
“I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling… So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”
An excuse in three parts, putting the blame on all – the people, Samuel and the Philistines – all except himself, to whom he ascribed the deed of disobedience as a noble, self-sacrificing act. By not waiting three more hours, Saul lost his kingdom.
In God’s view of earthly matters, disobedience is more deadly than thousands of Philistine warriors. A Sovereign Lord could route them easily by an earthquake (1 Sam. 14:15), but He would not swallow a cunning pretext for the violation of His holy priesthood.
Samuel said, “…now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Sam. 13:14).
Saul was not changed nor did he change his ways. The loss of his place and his throne did not shake him from his course. Donkeys have very hard skulls, and though they be struck in the head with a blow, they barely feel it.
There’s so much in this one short passage, but I’m struck anew by just how far removed Saul was from the heart of God. And I don’t mean that God didn’t love him, I mean that Saul absolutely did NOT comprehend what mattered to God. The Lord “sought out for Himself a man after His own heart,” a man who would listen when God spoke and who would care about the things that God cared about – period. That’s what mattered to Him. He was looking for someone to love Him back.
I don’t want to be a by-word, a story of warning to other believers. I don’t want to brag about how many blows to the head that I’ve “survived,” posing foolishly as some brave soldier while aggressively exposing my, er, “donkey-ness.”
I want to love God with a love that is unmoved by a deadline seeming to pass. I want a love that stays when everyone around me starts to scatter. I want a love that waits, resolute, when the Philistines assemble for war and move in on me. I want a love that defies human logic and withstands the accusations of Satan.
I will be foolish with or without God, because that’s just who I am. So I want the full measure of His LOVE, that redeems and justifies all my foolishness.