Saul’s story can be a little hard to read. I hate reading about his hungry soldiers being caught up in a power struggle to get them under his thumb. My stomach twists at his frantic efforts to succeed. His disobedience and lack of trust in God’s timing send him in a panic that spirals him far away from being the man God deemed worthy to lead his people.
But still, I love what Saul’s story tells us about God.
God doesn’t want our religious tendencies or our obligatory offerings. He always, always, always wants our hearts. Saul misses this when he gets impatient, gives in to fear and then sacrifices the burnt offering without Samuel. If you don’t understand the significance of burnt offerings and why Samuel had to do it, that’s okay, I don’t really either. The point is, several times in just two chapters, Saul fails to trust God and wait for his timing. Unfortunately, he is not by any means the only person to get swept up in a God-appointed task and lose perspective.
Notice the stark contrast between Jonathon and Saul. Jonathon is brave. He takes decisive action with great confidence in God. He shouts ” for the Lord will help us defeat them!” and I can practically see him raising his sword high and leading the weapon-less army into his daring plan.
But Saul’s pride grows as his trust in God shrinks. He treats God like a vending machine, jamming coins in and slamming buttons to get what he wants. (Is that a fair analogy or do I need to take snacks less seriously?) He forgets to consult with God and in a scramble to succeed, he fails.
When you’re under a lot of pressure and there’s plenty of reason to be afraid, do you respond like Jonathon or do you respond like Saul?