It seemed that Saulís plan to defeat Philistiaís army had failed badly. Saul had tried to gather a vast army of men from Israel at Gilgal. In fact, his men had scattered. They were very afraid.
However, Saul still remained at Gilgal with about 600 men (13:15). Saul waited there because Samuel had promised to join him there after 7 days (10:8).
Saul expected Samuel to pray for him and to give him a message from God. Saul was desperate for Godís help. It was clear to everyone that, without special help from God, Saulís men would certainly lose the battle.
These things happened in order to test Saul. God was testing whether Saul really trusted him. Saul knew that, with Godís help, a vast army could win a battle (11:8-11). However, really Saul was trusting in the size of his army; he was not trusting God. Unlike his son Jonathan, Saul did not believe that God could use just one or two men to defeat a vast army (14:6).
Godís command to Saul was that he must wait for Samuel to arrive (10:8). After 7 days, Samuel would offer sacrifices (gifts to God). Then Samuel would tell Saul what to do.
Saul waited for 7 days and he became very afraid. He decided that he would not wait any longer for Samuel. So, Saul offered the sacrifices himself. That is, a priest offered the sacrifices on Saulís behalf. Neither Saul, nor Samuel, were priests. However, Ahijah the chief priest was among Saulís 600 men (14:2-3).
It was not wrong for Saul to make a sacrifice in that way. Saulís error was not to obey Godís command to him in 1 Samuel 10:8 (see also 1 Samuel 13:13). Saulís sacrifice showed that he was not trusting God. Instead, he was trying to pay God for his help.
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.