Saul, first King of Israel is an example of what to avoid. When Saul went to battle he was told to wait seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel was delayed and Saul’s men began to scatter. So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:8-14).
“Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!’ ” So none of the troops tasted food. Jonathan, Saul’s son had not heard the oath and ate some wild honey he found. When Saul found out he swore to kill Jonathan, but the men saved Jonathan, because God had used him to bring victory in battle. (1 Samuel 14:43-45).
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt…. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.’ Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: ‘I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.’ ” Saul at first argued that he had obeyed God, then when confronted gave many excuses and blamed the soldiers, but Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel: 15:2-23).
Saul is an example of rebellion, of worldly thinking, doing what he thought was best, and giving in to fear instead of trusting God and obeying God’s commands. Saul blamed the soldiers, and made excuse of offering sacrifice for his failure to obey, but when he finally confessed, it was his fears and his concern for himself that led to his disobedience. God showed much mercy to Saul, he remained king for many years, but continued his disobedient, selfish, fearful ways by; attempting to kill David, God’s chosen successor; seeking guidance from a medium; and going to war when he shouldn’t have. Finally, he ordered his armor bearer to kill him after he was wounded in battle.
We are weak and prone to fear, but we have God’s word and promises. God is trustworthy and faithful, He knows everything, and is all-powerful. When we set our will to trust and obey Him, He will give us courage and faith to complete the task set before us. If and when we fall, confess immediately, get up and start following once again. It takes courage, faith and trust to do God’s will, but these are from God. Wait on Him and do not trust in your our own understanding. (Prov. 3:5).