1753.) 1 Samuel 13

A lesson today for all of us who are feeling pressured . . . to do something, anything . . .

1 Samuel 13   (NRSV)

Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice

Saul was…years old when he began to reign; and he reigned…and two years over Israel.

The numbers are lacking in the Hebrew texts; NIV has that Saul was 30 years old and reigned 42 years. The ESV puts it this way: Saul lived for one year and then became king, and when he had reigned for two years over Israel . . . 

2Saul chose three thousand out of Israel; two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin; the rest of the people he sent home to their tents.

Jonathan.  What’s not to love about brave and kind-hearted Jonathan?  Let’s watch him these next chapters.

3Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4When all Israel heard that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines, the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

Jonathan’s gracious soul — he had won the battle, but he allows his father to take the credit.

5The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns. 7Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Probably many of them had previously thought, “What we really need is a king. A king would solve our problems.” Now they have a king and the problems are still there. We often think things will “fix” problems when they won’t at all. “And hereby God intended to teach them the vanity of all carnal confidence in men; and that they did not one jot less need the help and favour of God now than they did before, when they had no king.” (Poole)

–David Guzik

8He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul. 9So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being.” And he offered the burnt offering.

Oh, no!  This is not Saul’s place!  He is not a priest!  He was told to wait for Samuel!

10As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him.

11Samuel said, “What have you done?”

Saul is BUSTED!! — Samuel could smell his disobedience!

Saul replied, “When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, 12I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of the Lord’; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”

Saul has plenty of excuses!

  1. I had to do something — the troops were starting to disburse. And we are already outnumbered!
  2. You did not come when you said you would — it’s partly your fault!
  3. The Philistines were ready for battle — I couldn’t wait any longer!
  4. We need God’s help against the Philistines — and we need it now!

13Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, 14but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

Saul is REJECTED!! — Jonathan will not be king after Saul. Saul would actually reign another 20 years but it will never be the same, because the end of his kingdom is certain.

Saul was a man after Israel’s heart. He was all about image, prestige, and the things men look at. But God will now give Israel a man after His own heart, and raise that man up to be the next king. It would be easy to say that the kingdom was taken from Saul because he sinned and on one level, that was true; but it was more than that. David also sinned yet God never took the kingdom from David and his descendants. The issue was bigger than an incident of sin; the issue was being a man after God’s own heart.

So let’s look at Saul, someone who was not a man after God’s heart, and David, a man who was a man after God’s own heart.

  • A man after God’s heart honors the LORD. Saul was more concerned with his will than God’s will. David knew God’s will was most important. Even when David didn’t do God’s will, he still knew God’s will was more important. All sin is a disregard of God, but David sinned more out of weakness and Saul more out of a disregard for God.
  • A man after God’s heart enthrones God as king. For Saul, Saul was king. For David, the LORD God was king. Both David and Saul knew sacrifice before battle was important. But David thought it was important because it pleased and honored God. Saul thought it was important because it might help him win the battle. Saul thought God would help him achieve his goals. David thought that God was the goal.
  • A man after God’s heart has a soft, repentant heart. When Saul was confronted with his sin he offered excuses. When David was confronted with his sin he confessed his sin and repented (2 Samuel 12:13).
  • A man after God’s heart loves other people. Saul became increasingly bitter against people and lived more and more unto himself, but David loved people. When David was down and out he still loved and served those who were even more down and out (1 Samuel 22:1-2).

–David Guzik

15And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal.


We see in 1 Samuel 13 that Saul faced a crucial moment that every believer must eventually confront. It is a time of crisis when we’re forced to decide whether we’ll wait on God by faith, or get impatient and take matters into our own hands.

Saul’s pivotal moment came when ominous clouds of war were gathering over Israel. The Philistines had amassed a huge army of horsemen, iron chariots and legions of soldiers brandishing the latest weapons. By contrast, the Israelites had only two swords in their entire army—one for Saul and one for his son, Jonathan. Everyone else had to use makeshift weapons, such as wooden spears or crude farm tools.

A week earlier Samuel had warned Saul to wait for him at Gilgal before going into battle. The prophet had said he would arrive after seven days to make the proper sacrifices to the Lord.

When the seventh day came and Samuel hadn’t arrived, Saul’s soldiers began to scatter. Worse, the king didn’t have God’s direction for battle.

What approach did Saul take? Did he stand firm, declaring, “I don’t care if it takes Samuel eight days to arrive, I’m going to stand on God’s Word to me. Live or die, I will obey his command”? No—Saul panicked. He allowed himself to be overwhelmed by his circumstances. And he ended up manipulating his way around God’s Word. He ordered the priest who was present to make the sacrifices without Samuel and in so doing committed a grievous sin against the Lord.

No—God is never too late. All along, the Lord knew each step Samuel was taking toward Gilgal. He had set the prophet on a heavenly navigation system, pinpointing his arrival to the very second. Samuel would be there by day seven, even if it was one minute before midnight.

God has not changed throughout the ages. And he is still concerned with whether his people obey this command: “Obey the voice of the Lord, and [do not] rebel against the commandment of the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:15, paraphrased). It doesn’t matter if our lives are spinning out of control—we are to walk in total confidence in the Lord. Even if things look hopeless, we are not to act in fear. Rather, we are to wait patiently on him to deliver us, as his Word promises.

The fact is, God stood right beside Saul as the massive Philistine army pressed in. He knew the crisis Saul was in and his eye was on every detail.

Our God sees every detail of your crisis. He sees all the life-problems pressing in on you. And he’s fully aware your situation is getting worse daily. Those who pray and wait on him with calm faith are never in any real danger. Moreover, he knows all your panicky thoughts: “I don’t see how I can ever repay this debt…I don’t have any hope for my marriage…I don’t know how I can keep my job….” Yet his command to you still holds true: “Don’t panic or get ahead of me. You are to do nothing but pray—and rely on me. I honor everyone who puts his trust in me.”

Consider these words God has given to his church:  “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). “Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:11). “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Unbelief is deadly, its consequences tragic. And we face dire consequences if we try to extricate ourselves from our trials instead of trusting God to see us through them.

–David Wilkerson



HERE  Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard sing “Wait on the Lord.”

Sometimes in life you’ll find that
You get in a hurry
But when you have assurance
No need to worry

You can wait, wait, wait on the Lord and you’ll see
He always keeps his word
Must, just, trust in Him
Don’t be dismayed

Patience in time of trouble,
Trust and believe Him
And everything God promised
you will receive it

If you wait, wait, wait on the Lord
And you’ll see that He
He’ll always keep His word.
Must, just trust in Him
Don’t be dismayed

Trust in the word of God
For His word is true
When did He promise anything in your life
That He would not do.

Trust and depend on Him
He’s always on time
Don’t be discouraged
If you just believe, you will receive it

If you wait, wait, wait on the Lord
And you’ll see He’ll
He will keep his word

Must, just, trust in Him
Don’t you be dismayed

If you wait, wait, wait on the Lord
And you’ll see
He will always come through
Must, just, trust in Him
He will keep His word

Don’t be discouraged
Don’t you be dismayed
Hold on to his promises

Wait on the Lord
Be of good courage
And He will strengthen your heart

Wait, wait, wait on God
Wait upon the Lord
He shall renew your strength

I will wait, wait, wait on Him


Preparations for Battle

The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16Saul, his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin; but the Philistines encamped at Michmash. 17And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies; one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the mountain that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “The Hebrews must not make swords or spears for themselves”; 20so all the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshare, mattocks, axes, or sickles; 21The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.

The Philistines carefully guarded their technological advantage of iron weapons. They were sea farers and may have gained their metal working skills from cultures to the west, especially Greece.

The Philistines carefully guarded their technological advantage of iron weapons. They were sea farers and may have gained their metal working skills from cultures to the west, especially Greece.

22So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and his son Jonathan had them. 23Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash.

So looking at verses 5 and 15 and 22, what do we have?  The Philistines:  30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and too many foot-soldiers to count.  The Israelites:  600 men, 2 swords, and various farming tools.  “The Lord is my strength and my shield!”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
don’t just sit there . . .    http://creativeideas.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/dont-just-sit-title.jpg
clock.    http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/33500/33593/clock-11-59_33593.htm
What are the odds?    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/ba5b5-what_are_the_odds.jpg
iron weapons from ancient Greece.   http://www.womeninthebible.net/images/1.8.De6.jpg

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