1 Sam 13:8-23 – Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice

Christian Mölk1 Samuel Leave a Comment

1Sam 13:8-9

  1. The Philistines had the most soldiers and the best equipment. The only thing Saul had in his favour was God and the element of surprise. Perhaps Saul thought that the only way to have any microscopic chance of defeating the Philistines was to surprise them before they had time to gather for battle.
    1. That strategy probably wasn’t wrong per se, but Saul messes with the first and most important advantage: God. Saul knows he can’t perform the burnt offering but must wait for Samuel, but with each passing day the opportunity to make a surprise attack diminishes and eventually Saul takes matters into his own hands.
    2. The mistake Saul makes is that he arbitrarily performs the sacrificial service that only the priests were allowed to do. A king is a king and not a priest and vice versa.
      1. Even though Saul was king and ruler in Israel, he could not do whatever he wanted with what belonged to the priesthood. A later king of Judah, Uzziah, made a similar mistake when he burned incense in the temple and was punished with leprosy by the Lord (2 Chron 26:16-23).

1Sam 13:10

  1. Just as Saul finishes the sacrifice, Samuel arrives. Saul becomes like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. This is hardly a coincidence, most likely God planned this to test Saul’s loyalty.
  2. As if trying to hide or mitigate his sin, he goes out and meets Samuel in the best possible way! But Samuel is not fooled by silliness, if Saul has sinned, so has he.

1Sam 13:11-12

  1. The prophet Samuel knows very well what a grave sin Saul has committed, but he gives Saul the chance to confess his sin and repent. However, Saul does not take that chance and instead defends his sin. Had he repented, Samuel would surely have responded in some other way.
    1. All people make mistakes from time to time and sin from time to time. This is not good, of course, but it only gets worse if you don’t repent and turn around.
    2. Even King David, who was much loved by God, sinned grievously on several occasions, but God still loved him because he repented when he realized what he had done.
    3. When God confronts you with your sin, either prophetically, through repentance, or by being exposed, be sure to repent of your sin, ask for forgiveness, and repent. Then God will receive you with open arms and forgive you all your sins.
  2. Saul’s first explanation was that he blamed the people for the fact that they were becoming more and more dispersed and that he felt he had to do something to prevent them from leaving. That may be true in human terms, but Saul should know better than to rely more on human strength than on God’s power.
    1. Even if all the soldiers had left Saul alone, God could have defeated the Philistines with only one Saul. God shows this to Saul at a later point when little David alone drives the Philistine army into flight by defeating the giant Goliath (1 Sam 17).
  3. Saul’s second explanation was that Samuel was late. Exactly why Samuel was late we don’t know, but it’s important not to blame your own sin on someone else. Even IF Samuel did something wrong by being late, that doesn’t excuse Saul from making mistakes too.
    1. Have you ever felt wronged and treated others badly because of it? Don’t let the sin of others “justify” your own sin.
  4. Saul’s third explanation was that he was trying to “appease” God through this sacrifice. But one cannot appease God by doing something that God has forbidden.
    1. For example, it is not okay for a leader to run people over or treat certain people badly in order to win many people to God. The end does not justify the means.
    1. Had Saul really wanted to “appease” God, he could have bowed his knees and prayed to God for help. No doubt God would have listened to Saul’s prayer and helped him.
    1. The fact that Saul chose burnt offerings as a method to appease God shows us that Saul probably did not actually perform the burnt offering to appease God, but to appease the people.

1Sam 13:13

  1. Ultimately, Saul’s sin was that he did not keep the commandment that God had given him. God had said one thing and Saul did another. Saul’s sin was that he disobeyed God, but his real problem was that his heart was in the wrong place.
    1. Isn’t there then a chance for the forgiveness of sins? Yes, but it also requires repentance and turning from sin. Instead of repenting when he was caught, Saul blames himself, showing that his heart is in the wrong place. He cares more about himself than about God.
  2. The punishment Saul receives is that the kingdom will not continue in his line. However, Saul himself will continue to reign for another 20 years after this.
    1. When God gives a judgment, He almost always gives plenty of time before the judgment is carried out so that one has a chance to repent. Saul did not do that and the sentence was thus carried out.

1Sam 13:14

  1. Saul was a man after Israel’s own heart, but David was a man after God’s own heart. So what was the difference between Saul and David?
    1. Saul is described as “a stately young man”; he certainly looked like a king (1 Sam 9:2). David was more like a small, shy boy who no one cared about (1 Sam 16:11).
    2. Both David and Saul had thought it important to offer burnt offerings to God before an important battle, but Saul sacrificed to bring the people along, David sacrificed because he wanted to honor God.
    3. Both David and Saul sinned, but when Saul is caught with his sin, he blames himself, when David is caught with sin, he cries out: “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam 12:13).
      1. This text is not really about who is the most sinful, Saul or David, because then David would probably be the most guilty, since he was both an unfaithful and a murderer. This text is about where one’s heart is, with oneself or with God.
      1. So Saul is not deprived of the kingdom because he sinned, but because of his heart.

1Sam 13:15

  1. Saul’s standing army was originally 3,000 men but has now been reduced to 600, or one-fifth. The odds even before the drastic reduction were deplorable, but are now totally disastrous, at least in human terms.
    1. Had Saul trusted God to give him victory, the reduction in the number of soldiers would have made Saul happy because victory at these odds would have brought great glory to God, but as he ponders how to defeat the Philistines himself, he becomes anxious to say the least!
      1. Saul’s 600 men are actually exactly twice as many as Gideon’s 300, but the difference between these leaders is that Gideon had a strong faith in God (Judges 7:1-7).
    1. When we see great mountains of impossible problems before us, let us remember that it may be impossible for a man, but for God nothing is impossible! When we trust in God, no enemy is too great for us. However, always remember to give God the glory for the victory He gives you in your life!

1Sam 13:17

  1. The Philistines are so militarily superior that they split up and ravage. They don’t even seem to bother to line up for battle against Saul.

1Sam 13:19-22

  1. The Philistines were a Greek people and had many trade contacts beyond the Mediterranean.
  2. Archaeologists agree that it was the Philistines who introduced iron forging to this part of the world.
  3. Not only did the Philistines outnumber the Israelis by a considerable margin, but they were also militarily and technologically superior to the Israelis. The Philistines had swords and spears, while the Israelis had slings, bows and working tools.
Share & Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *