Saul had not obeyed Godís command to him. He should have waited for Samuel before he offered the sacrifices (gifts to God) - 1 Samuel 10:8. However, on the 7th day, just before Samuel arrived at Gilgal, Saul offered the sacrifices.
Saulís excuse was that he wanted God to be pleased with him. He knew that his enemy, the army from Philistia, might attack at any time. So he wanted to make sure that God was on his side, not on the side of his enemy.
Saul had a wrong attitude towards religion. He seemed to think that, by means of religion, he could persuade God to help him. Earlier, he had been anxious to pay a holy man for his prayers (9:7-8). Now, he was trying to pay God by means of sacrifices.
However, the purpose of a sacrifice was never to pay God. It was not to persuade God that the giver deserved help. In fact, the opposite was true. It was a way that a person could be humble in front of God (Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 10:5-9; 1 Samuel 15:22-23). It is much more important to obey God than to offer any sacrifice.
Samuel arrived at Gilgal that same day, as he had promised. Gilgal was in a valley; Samuel would be able to see Saulís camp before he arrived there. Perhaps Samuel even watched as Saul offered the sacrifice. Samuel knew then that Saul had not obeyed God. He could see that Saul was establishing his rule on wrong principles and wrong ideas about religion. Clearly, Saul was not the kind of king that God wanted to rule his people. It was clear that Saulís rule could not last.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.