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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Faulty Decision Making (Samuel 13:11-12)

"What have you done? asked Samuel. Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." (Emphasis added)

I saw . . . I thought . . . I felt. Never mind that Samuel had already given Saul instructions regarding the seven day waiting period. Saul made a decision based upon expediency and emotion. His men were scattered. Samuel had not yet arrived. The Philistines were assembling against Saul and his army. Many of his army had fled in fear while the fearful remainder began to scatter (verse 8). And, Saul had missed his quiet time! Many have gone wrong because they hadn't disciplined themselves to seek the Lord daily. Maintaining an on-going intimacy with the Lord is a must if a man or woman wants to avoid making foolish and hasty decisions and living with long-term negative consequences.

I wonder, had Saul obtained a copy of the Book of the Law from the scribes and written a copy for himself and begun reading it? Probably not. God had instructed the future kings of Israel to take a copy of the Book of the Law from the scribes and hand write their own copy and then read it all the days of their life (Deut. 17:14ff).

Had Saul taken the time to read the Book of the Law like he was supposed to then he would have known that only a Levite could offer a burnt offering (Lev. 1:3ff). He would have known that God had promised to "bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel" (Gen. 12:1-3). He would have known that impetuous activity always lead to regrettable consequences (Sarah's getting a baby by Hagar, Rebekah and Jacob's deception of Isaac, etc.).

Instead of waiting on Samuel just a few minutes more Saul felt that he must "do" something. And it cost him an enduring kingdom. No sooner does he light the altar's fire then Samuel shows up.

Saul's decisions were based on what he saw, thought, and felt instead of on what Samuel had said. How often we make our decisions based upon what we see, think, and feel, instead of seeking the Lord and searching the Scriptures.

Lessons we can learn from this story:
  • God is not in a hurry.
  • Skipping time with the Lord always shows up later when we make poor decisions.
  • God intervened in the past and can do so in the present.
  • Circumstances are opportunities to trust in the Lord and wait for Him to act on our behalf (Isaiah 64:4).
  • Faulty assumptions ('the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal') frequently lead to hasty action and regrettable consequences.
Saul had already experienced God's intervention earlier on Israel's behalf when the Ammonites besieged them. The Spirit of God had come upon him with power and the terror of the Lord fell on the people, yet here he is panicking instead of trusting God and waiting on Him. How often we succumb to panic and fear instead of relying upon the Lord. 
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: 1 Samuel 10:1-13:22
  • Why does Samuel give Saul such specific instructions after he anoints him leader?
  • How does Samuel introduce Saul to the children of Israel?
  • Review Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and list the six regulations regarding the choice of a king.
  • What does Saul do that creates support for his leadership?
  • Describe Samuel's tenure as Israel's judge.
  • What does Samuel warn Israel and the king about?
  • Describe Saul's leadership style during the Philistine attack.
  • Who had God designated to offer sacrifices in Leviticus 1:3-9? What reason does Saul give to Samuel to explain his action?
  • What was the consequence of Saul's disobedience?
  • What does this scene in chapter thirteen tell you about Saul? His view of himself? His view of God's word? His view of Samuel?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to show you where you are led by expediency and your emotions instead of confident trust in the Lord.