Saul, the new king of Israel, was ready to lead the Israelite army into battle against the big, scary Philistines. The Philistine army was so numerous that it looked like grains of sand on the seashore. Saul’s army was getting frightened waiting for prayer time with Samuel, so they started to run away and hide. Finally, Saul took things into his own hands and led the prayer time and sacrifice to the LORD.
Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, "What is this you have done?" Saul replied, "I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn't arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, '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 13:10-12 NLT)
Sometimes, when we are working through the details of allowing God to be King, we find places where we went against God’s instructions. We think our decisions are good decisions at the time, even though God clearly warns against them. Then, we come face to face with the reality: God’s way was the right way. God’s way was better. We should have let God be King.
"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 His people, because you have not kept the LORD's command." (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NLT)
Saul’s foolishness will cause him the kingdom. We already know that Saul will reign as king for 42 years. (The narrator told us that up front.) His son Jonathan, though, will not inherit the kingdom. God will take the kingdom away from Saul and give it to another because Saul did not follow God as King.
The Israelites realized they were not following God as King, too. Samuel’s speech to them made it clear. They asked for a human king instead. God let them know how rebellious they were being by giving them a miraculous sign. Rain came, on command, in a season that never rains. They came face to face with the truth: they were not honoring God as their King.
"Pray to the LORD your God for us, or we will die!" they all said to Samuel. "For now we have added to our sins by asking for a king." "Don't be afraid," Samuel reassured them. "You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the LORD with all your heart, and don't turn your back on Him. (1 Samuel 12:19-20 NLT)
How about you? Have you turned your back on God as King? When you recognize what you’ve done, do you turn back to God as your King? Do you return to the King?