By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Though we understand what God commands and expects of us, we sometimes lean on our own understanding to “help” God. While King, Saul led the Hebrews through several battles against the Philistines. Shortly after a Hebrew victory, the Philistines gathered a large army together for a counter-attack.
1 Samuel 13:5 (NIV): The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand 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.
This struck fear into the Hebrew army, and they started to hide in caves, holes, and pits (v.6). To alleviate the fear, Saul wanted to reassure his troops that God was still with them.
1 Samuel 13:8-9 (NIV): He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.
There is little doubt that Saul was attempting to do a noble and faithful thing for his troops. But similar to the way life is for a Christian today, Saul must worship God in spirit and truth. Saul was only worshiping in spirit because God had specific commandments on who can and cannot offer Him a sacrifice. In this situation, Samuel was tasked with sacrificing the burnt offerings to God. When Samuel asked Saul; “what have you done” (v.11), Saul tried to explain how his desire was to offer God supplication before the Philistines attacked (v.12). God was swift in his repudiation (no matter the good intention) of Saul’s sacrifice.
1 Samuel 13:13 (NIV): “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.
Samuel goes on to tell Saul his disobedience to God would cost him his kingdom over Israel. Remember, Saul was only attempting to offer supplication to God before the ensuing battle. Though there are many thoughts and divisions among the churches who love God, we must remember that we do not have the authority to deviate from God’s word. Our disobedience won’t necessarily cost us our kingdom, but it can cost us our place in the kingdom of God. Let us always be faithful to worship God in spirit and truth.