God of the ages, I celebrate the truth that you are the God of the present and of the future, too.
Read 1 Samuel 13:1–22
Samuel Rebukes Saul
2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.
3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand[c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
15 Then Samuel left Gilgal[d] and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.
Israel Without Weapons
16 Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah[e] in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Mikmash. 17 Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual, 18 another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboyim facing the wilderness.
19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles[f] sharpened. 21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel[g] for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel[h] for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.
22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
- 1 Samuel 13:1 A few late manuscripts of the Septuagint; Hebrew does not have thirty.
- 1 Samuel 13:1 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text (see Acts 13:21); Masoretic Text does not have forty-.
- 1 Samuel 13:5 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew thirty thousand
- 1 Samuel 13:15 Hebrew; Septuagint Gilgal and went his way; the rest of the people went after Saul to meet the army, and they went out of Gilgal
- 1 Samuel 13:16 Two Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts Geba, a variant of Gibeah
- 1 Samuel 13:20 Septuagint; Hebrew plow points
- 1 Samuel 13:21 That is, about 1/4 ounce or about 8 grams
- 1 Samuel 13:21 That is, about 1/8 ounce or about 4 grams
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIn this moment, I become aware of all that is going on in my mind and body. I breathe slowly, asking God for the gift of stillness. I step into his great silence.
The fissures and cracks that have been all over this story since its beginning, now open wide. Saul’s brief reign as king is over. He’s been a seven-day sovereign (v 8). And I for one feel sorry for Saul.
He didn’t choose this office; he was looking for lost donkeys, not promotion. But there were bigger forces at work, and Saul was caught in the crossfire between the people’s clamor for visible political rule and God’s sense of outrage as vented by Samuel the prophet. There was no margin for error but, being human, Saul made one mistake.
Told by Samuel to wait in Gilgal for seven days before his next orders (10:8), Saul acts unilaterally and performs the necessary priestly duties after seven days have passed. And herein he over-steps the mark. He is not a priest, so he has no authority to offer sacrifices. Worse, he has disobeyed Samuel by not waiting for the full seven days to pass. The rebuke from Samuel is crushing (vs 13,14); it’s over before it really began. God is already recruiting another king, someone after his own heart.
Are you quick to judge others when their failures are exposed? Ask God to forgive your self-righteousness and pray for those you see who are struggling to make right choices.
Father, forgive me for readily judging and categorizing others. Help me to remove barriers I place in front of others.
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