Saul was outnumbered at least 12:1, and his own army was deserting rapidly. In fact, of the 3,000 men that had reported for duty, all but 600 had already fled. Saul realized SOMETHING had to be done – and NOW!
Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel in order to seek God’s blessing prior to going into battle. Saul desired the Lord’s favor, but Samuel was late arriving on the scene, so Saul took matters into his own hands. While the sacrifices were still burning, Samuel strolled into camp and asked, “What have you done?” (1 Samuel 13:11).
Listen to Saul’s response: “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed… I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” (vv.11-12)
“I forced myself” to do it, suggests that Saul believed he had been “strong armed” against his will. Today we might say, “I really had no choice…” Before we wag our fingers at Saul, let’s remember his situation: he was looking across the valley at a huge army; his men were deserting; he needed God’s blessing, and the man of God was nowhere to be seen.
Folks, I’ve caved at far less than this; I suspect you have too. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that Saul’s predicament was understandable. His choices were not too different from ones we’ve made as well. But understandable sin is still taken seriously by God; and it has consequences. For Saul, the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to David.
Have any “understandable sin” that you’re justifying? Remember, God still takes even our “understandable sins” seriously! –Dave
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