(Vs. 1-2) Saul had reigned for one full year over Israel and was near the end of his second year when he chose three thousand men of Israel for constant military service and protection. Two thousand were with him and one thousand were with Jonathan, his son. The rest of the men returned to their homes to be summoned if needed.
(Vs. 3-4) Evidently the Philistines had garrisons and strongholds in the land, and Saul ordered Jonathan to surprise and destroy the garrison of the Philistines near Geba. There must have been some sort of agreement or understanding between Israel and the Philistines; for we are told that, because of this treacherous attack, "all Israel did stink with the Philistines," as men void of honesty and trust. Jonathan did it on orders from his father, the King. Knowing that the Philistines would retaliate, Saul sent messengers to call all the people to prepare for war, for his defense and theirs.
(Vs. 5-7) The Philistines gathered together a great and mighty army "as the sand on the seashore in multitude" to fight against Israel. When the people heard of the slaughter of the Philistine garrison, of the anger of the Philistines over it, and of the war plans of the enemy, they knew that they and their new King were in deep trouble. Many of them began to hide in caves, rocks, mountains, and pits. Some of them fled across Jordan to the land of Gilead, as far as they could from danger. Those who stayed with Saul in Gilgal "followed him trembling and afraid." Saul had not sought the counsel of God's prophet nor the will of God in any of these matters, but all of this trouble was of his own making.
(Vs. 8) When Samuel first anointed Saul (I Sam. 10:8), he ordered him to tarry seven days in Gilgal, promising that at the end of those seven days, he would come to him, OFFER SACRIFICES, and TELL HIM WHAT GOD WOULD HAVE HIM DO! Perhaps this was a general rule to be observed at Gilgal on all occasions, for Saul was waiting for Samuel as the people scattered from him.
(Vs. 9) Wait on the Lord, wait for the prophet of God to speak for God (Heb. 1:1), and wait for the prophet-priest to offer the Lord's sacrifice. This order Saul broke! He offered the burnt offering. Though he was neither prophet nor priest, because he was a King, he thought he could do anything. Uzziah paid dearly for this presumption (II Chron. 26:16-21). There is no area where the judgment of God is more severe and the wrath of God more certain than when any man presumes to violate the sin-offering, sacrifice, and atonement, for this is the work of Jesus Christ alone (Heb. 1:3). All through the Scriptures men have perished who have sought to approach God apart from the priest and the true blood offering which typifies Christ, our great and only High Priest.
Men who tampered with God's revealed way of acceptance and communion have felt the hand of judgment, for this is a denial of our sin and a disregard for His holiness. Examples: CAIN - Gen. 4:3-5; NADAB AND ABIHU - Num. 3:4: MOSES Num. 20:9-11; UZZAH - II Sam. 6:6-7.
Among all of Saul's rebellions and blunders, this was his greatest error and chief offenseto come before God without the appointed priest and true sacrifice (Heb. 5:1-5; Heb. 8:8-12: Heb. 10:11-14). To attempt to come to God apart from His ordained priest and sacrifice is to deny our sins and to deny God's holiness, righteousness, and judgment against us (Rom. 3:19-26).
(Vs. 10) When Samuel did come, Saul seemed to boast of what he had done rather than to repent of it,and he went out TO BLESS SAMUEL, as if he thought himself a complete priest empowered to bless as well as sacrifice, This is the pride of the human heart. Only Christ can save, sanctify, and bless (Col. 2:9-10; I Cor. 1:30).
(Vs. 11-12) When Samuel asked Saul what he had done, he began to justify his actions.
1. I was losing the support of the people, for they were leaving.
2. You came not when we thought you would come.
3. The armies of the enemy were gathered together.
4. The enemy planned to attack us, and I had not entreated the blessings of God; so I forced myself to offer a sacrifice.
He realized NOT that no circumstances, no cause, and no situation can warrant a violation of the sacrifice of Christ and His priesthood. "No man cometh to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6).
(Vs. 13-14) Saul had acted foolishly and proudly in acting as God's priest and offering a sacrifice. Not only had he broken God's commandment regarding the sacrifice, but he had acted as his own saviour and mediator. denying the absolute necessity of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Tim. 2:5). The anointed, ordained priest, offering the designated sin-offering and sacrifice before God, at the time and in the way God appointed, is a picture and a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, and His atonement. Any deliberate violation of this sacrifice is a rejection and denial of Christ. This was Saul's sin; and God took the kingdom from him and raised up David, a man after His own heart.
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