How many of us, as parents, would allow our children to just do whatever they want, with no guidelines for wise decisions, no consequences for rebellion or disobedience? I have to believe that most parents want the best for their children and want to instill in them an attitude of respect for authority. Here is a lesson from king Saul in Israel’s history.
King Saul was the tallest man in Israel when he was anointed king. He was humble and shy. But as he won battles his popularity grew. As his popularity he grew so did his ego. He became proud and thought he could do things his own way.
The background: Saul’s son Jonathan and his army won a battle against the Philistines in Geba while his father and his army fought in another area. Saul took credit for the coup (which was normal in their culture, but still displeasing to God) and his pride grew a little more.
Saul blew the trumpet that called the nation of Israel together in one place and made an announcement. There would be a celebration seven days hence. That was the appointed time for the prophet Samuel to come. Sacrifices would be made to honor and praise God for being on their side and giving them victory over their enemies. The only people allowed by law to offer sacrifices were the priests. Saul was not a priest.
On the seventh day Samuel was delayed in getting to the meeting place. Saul decided that he would go ahead and offer the sacrifices. I Sam. 13:8-12: “And he [Saul] tarried seven days, according to the set thime that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him (Saul). And Saul said ‘Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings.’ And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.”
The fact is Samuel did arrive on the seventh day, just not when Saul wanted him there. Also, Saul did exactly what he wanted to do; he did not force himself to disobey God. He was justifying himself, as we are all prone to do.
The consequences for Saul’s disobedience: verses 13 and 14: Samuel said to Saul–“Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.”
This was the first time Saul disobeyed God’s commandment. It was a few years after this that God effected his promise to give His nation a new king. I Sam. 15:22, 23–These are not the whole verses, just the parts that make the point: “To obey is better than sacrifice. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” God would rather have our obedience than all the “favors” we could ever do for him. God sees deliberate disobedience as rebellion, and rebellion as witchcraft. More about witchcraft at a later date.