Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. – 1 Samuel 13:8-9
Many a good man has failed under pressure. His cash flow depleted with critical bills due, he “borrows” his boss’s funds with the intention of returning them in a couple of days. Or with his job on the line and productivity down, he “bends” the rules, alters the facts, and saves the day—or so it seems, until he is found out.
King Saul is a great example. He had been instructed by Samuel, his spiritual mentor, to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to come and bless the troops and lead them in worship before they went into battle (10:8). Gilgal was remote, a safe haven from their mortal enemies, the Philistines, so the time could be spent in careful, unhindered preparation. But the Philistines gathered a huge army and went after Saul. They came and camped at Micmash, which is just a stone’s throw from Gilgal. So Saul’s troops became restive and began to desert. As Saul saw his combat force dissipating, he panicked. In direct contravention of his instructions from the Lord, Saul went ahead with the spiritual exercises, which were not his domain. Just as he was concluding them, Samuel arrived, roundly rebuked Saul for his action, and advised him that his days as king were numbered.
The pressure revealed the faults. Saul had a tendency to panic and not trust, and a proclivity to take things into his own hands rather than to believe that the Lord had things under control. He bypassed obedience when the end seemed to justify the means. Saul’s lack of faith led to direct disobedience of God, a sure recipe for disaster for the leader of God’s chosen people. He had to go.
Saul’s fatal flaws were neither unusual nor uncommon. Similar faults appear regularly in men under pressure. In times of stress, substituting personal agendas and human effort for trusting obedience and obedient faith is like a skydiver dispensing with a parachute and substituting flapping his arms. Both will make a brave show, but neither will achieve the desired objective. Both are a free-fall to disaster. Much better to keep the parachute of faith open.
For Further Study: 1 Samuel 13:1-14
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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