April 04

Read 1 Samuel 12 -- 14:23

In Today's Reading:

The people have their king, but Samuel warns them of the possible consequences l Excitement is found in the second year of Saul's reign l Another battle with the Philistines soon ensues, and it proves to be the most costly of Saul's career l Priest's office usurped by Saul l This foolish decision loses him his kingship.

Verse for Today:

The Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude (1 Samuel 13:5).

Saul, the first King of Israel, was a man of great ability as an administrator and a warrior, but he had serious spiritual and emotional flaws. Perhaps three years after becoming king, his first great failure occurred when he did not wait for Samuel to offer a sacrific to the Lord as he promised. The Philistines had declared war against the Israelites who were greatly outnumbered. It appeared Israel was doomed to defeat.

Samuel had instructed Saul not to go into battle until he returned in seven days to offer sacrifices to the Lord; Saul was to wait in Gilgal (1 Samuel 13:7-8). When Saul's army realized the military might of the Philistines, the majority deserted him and [hid] themselves in caves (13:6), eventually leaving Saul with a mere six hundred men (13:15). Saul realized that their only hope was in God. Blaming Samuel for being late in returning, Saul offered the burnt offering. . . . (but) as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came (13:9-10). Saul's decision to assume the role of priest and offer sacrifice violated the Word of God and ignored the instructions of Samuel, the prophet and priest of God. Failing to admit to wrongdoing, Saul made an excuse to Samuel, saying: The people were scattered . . . and [you did] not [come] within the days appointed . . . (I thought) The Philistines will come down now upon me . . . I forced myself (felt obligated) therefore, and offered a burnt offering (13:11-12).

The burnt offering was a symbol of surrender to God. However, when Saul assumed the position of priest, the sacrifice became an abomination to the Lord (15:22-23; Numbers 16; Proverbs 21:27; Isaiah 1:13).

What seemed to Saul a tardiness in Samuel's arrival was in reality a test of Saul's obedience to the Word of God. Samuel spoke bluntly to this self-willed king: [You have] done foolishly: [You have] not kept the Commandment of the Lord [your] God, which He commanded [you]. . . . But now [your] kingdom shall not continue (1 Samuel 13:13-14).

From this point on, throughout Saul's 40-year reign, he drifted further and further from God. His reign ended as it began, in battle with the Philistines, but this time he lost his life.

From time to time we too will be tested and tempted to justify our violating the Word of God because of circumstances. Like Saul, some may even assume that the situation demands it. The consequences of Saul's presumption demonstrate how important it is for us to be guided by the Word of God and not by emotions, or personal benefits. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Christ Portrayed:

By Samuel the intercessor (1 Samuel 12:23). Right now Jesus is interceding for believers. It is Christ that died, [yes] rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also [makes] intercession for us (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

Word Studies:

12:4 ought = anything; 12:11 Jerubbaal = Gideon; 13:17 spoilers = raiders; 13:20 share, coulter, and mattock = agricultural tools, possibly a plow blade, spade, hoe, sickle, or pickax; 13:21 goads = pointed rods used to prod an animal; 14:8 discover = let ourselves be seen; 14:16 melted away = scattered in all directions.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Melissa Hart (PA), Rep. Darlene Hooley (OR), Sen. Richard Lugar (IN), and Rep. Bob Stump (AZ) · Pray for one another · Country: Austria (8 million) in central Europe · Major language: German · Religious freedom · 83% Roman Catholic; 5% Protestant; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Ask for understanding of the Word of God as you read each day (Psalms 119:34).

Optional Reading: Acts 5

Memory Verse for the Week: 1 Peter 2:2