First Samuel 13 Commentary.
We can compare chapter 11 and chapter 13. They are exactly the two different ends of the magnet. In chapter 11 Saul is the hero who the LORD empowers to overcome Nahash’s military strength. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, Saul fears nothing and advances against the Ammonites at once.
In this chapter, Saul is shaking with fear and so is everyone else around him. In chapter 11, the Spirit of God had been the differentiating factor but here in chapter 13, we don’t have this special blessing. What has happened to the anointing? Samuel puts it straight: you have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. At this point, Saul is all by himself. His offense has nothing to do with the sacrifice that he hastily offers to the LORD, in the absence of the prophet. His offense is in not having a working relationship with the LORD.
It is easy for the saint to tell that they are drifting away from the LORD. Fear appears. To solve the fear problem, man turns to all sorts of things. Saul turned to sacrifices. He would be told, later, that to obey is better than sacrifice. Today many errant souls turn to charity works and gifts to the church as possible means to avert their inner fears. Christianity doesn’t have to be so complicated. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
What Saul did was foolish because it would not solve any of his problems. Turning to the LORD as one turns to a pagan god for favors is what the prophet calls foolishness. The Creator God demands that men live in a holy relationship with Him at all times. They shall not treat their God like an ATM machine to be consulted only when they face trouble.
The great prophet Samuel then announces that the LORD “has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people”. Probably the story of Saul should end with this chapter. Much of what remains of Saul would be fights within himself and fights against the chosen man, David. The next few chapters would still highlight Saul but only to show us what man becomes when the Spirit of God departs. In contrast, Jonathan, Saul’s son would shine a ray of hope in a palace that was now ruled by evil.
The story of Saul is truly sad. It stands as a warning to all that the Spirit of God is not a permanent installation. Every saint carries this label: delicate content. There is no permanent tenancy. Sin is a powerful eviction notice. Then you are on your own. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, his greatest fear was the loss of the Spirit of God. He prayed, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”. Psalm 51 verse 11.
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