Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Prophet Samuel (7) - Saul and Samuel Stumble

When the Philistines came against Israel with three thousand chariots and a huge army, Saul gathered selected three thousand men and sent the rest home. It seems that he was trying to trust the Lord.

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter (1 Sam 13:8-9).
When the troops began to scatter, Saul got tired of waiting and offered a sacrifice to the Lord. Saul was wrong to act as priest, because he was from the tribe of Benjamin. However, there are a couple of others things we should note. Samuel was not a priest either, so Saul was just doing what Samuel had done before him, when he added a priestly role to his legitimate calling. Saul was copying Samuel's bad example.

The other thing to note is that Samuel seemed to be miffed with Saul and set him up to fail. He told Saul to wait for seven days, but did not turn up when the seven days were ended. There is no suggestion that God delayed Samuel, so he seemed to be being a bit mischievous. Then as soon as Saul sinned, Samuel turned up, just like he was waiting for him to get into trouble.

Samuel rebuked Saul.
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. But now your kingdom will not endure (1 Sam 13:13).
This rebuke is interesting as it seemed to come from Samuel. There is no evidence in the scriputures that the Lord told him to speak these words. Samuel told Saul that his kingdom could have lasted for all time, but that was not true. Only Jesus could have a kingdom that would last forever. However, Samuel was correct in saying that Saul’s kingdom would not last.

Samuel then left Saul to his own devices with a rapidly diminishing army.
Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred (1 Sam 13:15).
However, the Lord had not deserted Israel. When Jonathon took the initiative, the Lord intervened.
Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God (1 Sam 14:15).
The Lord rescued Israel, despite the failings of Saul and Samuel.

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