The Philistines aren’t a nation to take defeat lightly. They raise up a massive army and make plans to attack the Israelites.
How do the Israelites respond?
“The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead...” 1 Samuel 13:6-7 (NLT)
That’s right, the people of God cower in fear of their enemies. They forget about God’s deliverance from their previous battles.
What about their king? What’s he doing? He’s waiting for Samuel, the priest, to show up. Samuel is to make a sacrifice to God and ask for His help in battle.
Waiting on God and relying on Him to guide the army into battle is what Saul should do. The problem starts when he gets impatient waiting for Samuel.
“…Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and peace offerings!’ And Saul sacrificed the burn offering himself.” 1 Samuel 13:7-9 (NLT)
Samuel arrives just as Saul finishes the sacrifices. He questions Saul about what he’s done. Saul’s answer is filled with pride.
“…The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help! So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.” 1 Samuel 13:12 (NLT)
What did Saul do wrong? Offering sacrifices is the specific work of the priest. His comment, “I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself…” indicates he feels he is just as capable of performing the holy sacrifice as the priest; when really he’s breaking God’s sacred law.
What's the result of Saul's pride-filled decision?
“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of the people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)
It’s humbling when pride leads you to think you can do someone else's job better than they can…and you fail. Sadly, I speak from experience on this one. My foray down the pride-filled road only cost me a lesson in humility, but Saul’s costs him the kingship of Israel.
Saul’s Leadership Lesson #2…
Don’t let your pride allow you to think you know better than everyone else on your team, so you try to do their jobs as well as your own.