Samuel watched the man running toward him. The young man wasn’t familiar, but Samuel knew from the tunic he wore that King Saul had dispatched him.
The young man bent over in front of Samuel. “King Saul has assembled three thousand men at Gilgal. Jonathan attacked them with one thousand men at Geba. I think all he did was make the Philistines mad. There were chariots and horses and too many men to count showing up when I left. The king wants you to make a request of the LORD for him as to what he should do.”
Samuel motioned to his aide. “Bring some water. Quickly!”
He looked at the young messenger. “I have a few things to finish up here before I can leave. Tell the king I’ll be there in seven days from now. Don’t let him do anything until then. The LORD will win this battle. I’m sure.”
The messenger chugged the water, then let out a long breath. “I’ll get your message to the king. I don’t think he’ll do anything. I’ll make sure Jonathan gets the same message. He’ll be the one to fight them first.”
Samuel grabbed the young man’s sleeve. “You must eat something, first. It’s too long of a journey without food.”
The messenger stood. “Thank you, sir.”
Samuel watched many families crossing the Jordan River and continue east as he walked to Saul’s position still two days away in the west.
His thoughts brought that knot back to his gut. “Don’t tell me Saul began the fight without the LORD’s guidance.”
On the seventh day of his journey Samuel realized he would have to stop reassuring everybody he met that God had not forsaken His people if he was going to make it to Saul’s camp when he said he’d be there.
The closer he got the more he noticed people hiding wherever they could find. His heart sank when he saw a plume of smoke on the horizon. “I hope that’s not what I think it is.”
When Samuel crested the hill overlooking the valley near Gilgal his heart sank. It took all he had within him to not turn around and leave. He knew somebody needed to talk to Saul about his boundaries as the king, so he kept walking. The late afternoon’s light reflecting off the Philistine armor across the valley briefly stole his attention.
He got a lot closer to Saul than he thought he would before the king turned around.
Samuel felt the coolness of the blood leaving his face as he stared at the alter still smoldering from the bull’s carcass.
“What. Have. You. Done?”
The smile left Saul’s face as he turned around and made a quick inspection of the sacrifice. “When you took longer to come than you said you would I knew I had to do something before everybody left in fear. I need the LORD’s guidance on how He wants us to fight, if at all. I thought I could come before God like you do since I’m the king.”
The heat in Samuel’s cheeks told him the blood had returned. “You are a fool, Saul. God’s law strictly forbids anyone, but a priest, to offer sacrifices to God. You have crossed a line that you never should have been near. The LORD will now take your kingdom away and give it one who will follow Him with his heart.”
Samuel turned and walked to Gibeah. Saul and his men followed in silence.
We sure could use a few Samuels walking around these days. Somebody needs to have the intestinal fortitude to tell people in leadership what God expects of us.
Wait a second, why do we need a person to tell us what God thinks? He laid it all out for us in the Bible.
Why aren’t people in leadership taking God and His Word seriously anymore?
I’m not talking only about those in political leadership here. Why aren’t people in charge of keeping denominations straight following God’s guidebook like He wants us to?
Perhaps their itching ears have found another lover to court.
Moses laid out a prescription for God’s people to follow to prevent this from happening. Yeah, God foreknew His people would beg for a king to lead them so they’d be like the nations around them.
In Deuteronomy 17:14-17 Moses told the people what their king was not to do when he took the throne over them. The main theme is materialism.
In Deuteronomy 17: 18-20 Moses gave the action the king must take to assure he’d stay true to God’s law. He was to hand write a copy of the law and read it every day.
What do you think would happen today if a leader of any nation would actually carry this plan out?
King Saul obviously didn’t come anywhere near knowing what God’s law was for him to do what he did in today’s report. Instead of trusting in God to keep the Philistines at bay until Samuel arrived he panicked and lost his place as the first of a legacy of kings from his line who would lead God’s people.
This is why it’s so important for each of us to read the Bible on a daily basis, not just our leaders. I refer to it as God’s guidebook because that’s why God had it so well preserved through so many centuries. We should be learning from these Old Testament stories of true events to help us avoid the mistakes they made.
If you’re wondering which translation is the best I’ll tell you that it’s not so much which one you choose, as long as you read at least one of them.
I actually use several versions in my personal study. The message is the same.
It’s the same Jesus walking on water, the same Saul making a foolish sacrifice, the same Samuel confronting his ignorance.
God inspired all of the Bible for each of us to learn from. Immerse yourself in it. NOW!
I’ll see you later. Wade