Read 1 Samuel 13:1-15
“But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:14
Why do I have such a hard time keeping the commands of God? Do I, like Saul, let fear win when God seems to be a little late with His answers? Of course all around Saul is an enemy as numerous as the sand on the seashore (v 5). But worse than that, is the fact that his troops are all around him quaking with fear and hiding in caves and thickets and rocks and pits and cisterns (vv 6,7)
He waits 7 days for Samuel to come and call on God on behalf of Israel. That is the time set by Samuel. But Samuel doesn’t arrive early enough on that 7th day and Saul’s men are scattering like sheep. He is desperate and surrounded by fear. And he ‘felt compelled’ to offer the burnt offering even though God said he should not. The words ‘felt compelled’ bring the idea of ‘forced myself’. He didn’t want to but he felt he had no choice. God’s way was too late. Saul obeyed his heart of fear instead of God.
So the LORD looks for a new leader – one who has a heart patterned after God’s heart (v14). Both one of the saddest, and one of the most amazing verses in the Bible. For Saul, this is the critical turning point. Samuel – the prophet of God- leaves. Saul, feeling not enough, counts the number of men who are still with him. And he isn’t just 1 short because Samuel has left. He is bereft. For God has weighed Saul’s heart and found it wanting and turned to another.
Samuel leaves for Gibeah and Saul is left scrambling to see if he has any assets left. Scrambling to manage the fearful troops alone in the face of impossible odds. All because he did not keep the LORD’s command – his heart was not fully God’s.