So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.
Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”
“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.”
(1 Samuel 13:9-13)
Rather than waiting for a priest, Saul offered the sacrifice himself. This was against God’s laws (Deuteronomy 12:5-14) and against the specific instructions of Samuel (1 Samuel 10:8). Under pressure from the approaching Philistines, he took matters into his own hands and disobeyed God. He was doing something good (offering a sacrifice to God before a crucial battle), but he did it in the wrong way. Like Saul, our true spiritual character is revealed under pressure. The methods we use to accomplish our goals are as important as the attainment of those goals.
Trusting God can be difficult when we feel our resources slipping away. When Saul thought his time was running out, he became impatient with God’s timing. Thinking the ritual was all he needed, he substituted the ritual for faith in God.
Saul had plenty of excuses for his disobedience. But Samuel zeroed in on the real issue: “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you.” Like Saul, we often gloss over our mistakes and sins, trying to justify and spiritualize our actions because of our “special” circumstances. Our excuses, however, are nothing more than disobedience. God knows our true motives. He forgives, restores, and blesses only when we are honest about our sins. By trying to hide his sins behind excuses, Saul lost his kingship (1 Samuel 13:14).
When faced with a difficult decision, don’t allow impatience to drive you to disobey God. When you know what God wants, follow his plan regardless of the consequences. God often uses delays to test our obedience and patience.