09/21/M – Acting in Fear, not Faith

1 Samuel 13:1-23; John 7:1-13; Psalms 107:33-43; Proverbs 23:24

OT: “The men of Israel saw that they were in trouble because the troops were in a difficult situation. They hid in caves, in thickets, among rocks, and in holes and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul, however, was still at Gilgal, and all his troops were gripped with fear. He waited seven days for the appointed time that Samuel had set, but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the troops were deserting him. So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered the burnt offering. Just as he finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. So Saul went out to greet him, and Samuel asked, “What have you done?” Saul answered, “When I saw that the troops were deserting me and you didn’t come within the appointed days and the Philistines were gathering at Michmash, I thought, ‘The Philistines will now descend on me at Gilgal, and I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have been foolish. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. It was at this time that the Lord would have permanently established your reign over Israel, but now your reign will not endure. The Lord has found a man after his own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over his people, because you have not done what the Lord commanded.”” (‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭13:6-14‬ ‭CSB)

Saul’s son Jonathan attacked a garrison of Philistines and initiated a war between the Philistines and Israel. Saul only had a couple thousand men with him, and none of them were armed. The Philistines, on the other hand, had 3,000 charioteers, a cavalry 6,000 men strong, and an innumerable amount of foot soldiers. On paper, Israel was massively out manned and didn’t stand a chance. Instead of gathering together to stand with Saul, the men of Israel hid and even fled over the border. Even Saul’s army began to desert him. Saul had been instructed to wait at Gilgal for Samuel to arrive and seek the Lord on their behalf, but Samuel was running late. It was a make or break moment for Saul as a leader. Would he stand in faith and honor the word of the Lord, or would he react in fear and take matters into his own hand? Unfortunately, Saul reacted in fear. Though he was King, Saul had limited powers. He was not permitted to offer sacrifices to the Lord. That was the responsibility of the appointed priest at the time – which happened to be Samuel. Saul’s decision to offer his own sacrifice to the Lord not only demonstrated his lack of faith in the Lord and in Samuel, it also was a blatant disregard for God’s law. When Samuel confronted Saul on his error, Saul could have humbled himself and repented, and everything would have been made right… but he didn’t. Instead, he made excuses and shifted blame. Saul’s lack of faith demonstrated that he was not faithful… he couldn’t be trusted to lead the nation according to God’s word, will, and ways. The Lord had offered Saul every opportunity to be a patriarch and begin a dynasty of faithful Kings under the Lordship of God Almighty. But because Saul proved to be a faithless man who could easily be swayed into disobedience, God would seek out another man to lead who would be faithful. Do we truly believe God’s word? Do we trust the Lord to be faithful? Or do we merely view His words as a list of guidelines that can be broken if they don’t seem to meet the needs of the moment? Do we ultimately trust in ourselves more than we trust in the Lord and those the Lord has chosen to use? Faithfulness is a big deal to God. It is the differentiator between sinfulness and sainthood. Are we easily swayed by fear, or will we push beyond fear to stand in faith?

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