King Saul: A Man of Lost Potential 1 Samuel 10:6-9 and 13:7-14

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1 King Saul: A Man of Lost Potential 1 Samuel 10:6-9 and 13:7-14 For the most part, there is no accounting for God s choices in people to carry out his will and his mission. God does not need to find the perfect person for his task. God simply needs to find a willing person that he can mold and change to accomplish his purposes. According to 1 Corinthians 1:26ff., God can choose the foolish things, the weak things, the lowly things, and the despised things of this world because he can make people anything he wants them to be, if they are willing. We are going to look at the first week of the reign of King Saul, the first king of Israel. For generations after Joshua led the Children of Israel into the Promised Land, Israel had been a loose federation of tribes governed by judges. They had no central government or civil authority in Israel. Periodically, God would raise up a judge like Gideon, Samuel, or Deborah for specific military or religious purposes. With Israel long settled into the Promised Land, the people decided that they wanted to have a king, like the other nations around them. So the people of Israel approached the prophet Samuel to give them a king. God was disappointed with Israel s demand and gave them Saul as their king. 1 Samuel 10 is the record of Samuel anointing Saul as king of Israel. Saul was a handsome and large man from a well to do family. He was quite a physical specimen. He had all the external qualities the people wanted in a king. So God gave the people Saul, as their king. Saul started on the right foot as King of Israel. Listen to what the prophet, Samuel said to Saul in 1 Samuel 10:6-9. The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. "Go down ahead of 1

2 me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do." As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. God provided everything Saul needed to become a successful king of Israel. Saul was promised that God would Come on him with power. Change him into a different person. Be with him in whatever he did. God changed Saul s heart and he prophesied to the amazement of the prophets of Gilbeah. The lone command was for King Saul to wait seven days until Samuel would come to Gilgal to make sacrifice and to tell Saul what to do. While Saul waited, a huge Philistine army came against Israel and Saul gathered his meager, ill-equipped troops at Gilgal to fight his first battle as king. At the same time, he was awaiting the arrival of Samuel after seven days to present the burnt offerings to the Lord. Listen to what happened from 1 Samuel 13:7-14. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter. So he 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 Micmash, 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 acted foolishly," 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 leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command." 2

3 Saul was in a very difficult position. A huge Philistine army was poised to conquer Israel. Israel had a tiny and an ill-equipped army. The Philistine s 3000 chariots with soldiers that scripture says were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Saul had been waiting for Samuel with his men hiding in caves and under rocks. Saul had waited seven days just like he had been told. Saul s army was quaking with fear. Finally some of them started to scatter and desert him. Saul became afraid too. So he decided (he felt compelled) to offer up the burnt offerings himself, without Samuel, in hopes this would stem the tide of desertion and steel his men for battle. Just as he was finished making the offering, up walks Samuel. Samuel could not believe his eyes and exclaimed to Saul, What have you done? vs. 11 Saul s response was very reasonable. He laid out the situation to Samuel. The men were scattering in fear. Samuel, you were late. The attack of the Philistine army was eminent. I did not want to face the Philistines without the Lord s blessing. Therefore, I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering. He had only been king a little over 7 days, but you could not argue with the logic of King Saul. He felt compelled to offer the burnt offering for good reasons. Saul was compelled by reason.. But, he needed to be compelled by obedience. Listen to Samuel s response in 1 Samuel 13:

4 "What have you done You acted foolishly," 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 leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command." In Saul s choice between being reasonable and being obedient, he chose being reasonable. It is not wrong to be reasonable. God wants us to love him with all our minds. Being reasonable is a good thing. God wants us to be reasonable but not at the expense of being obedient. Saul s potential with God would only be realized through obedience. Saul s reasonable decision was foolish because it was not in obedience to God. For this reasonable but foolish decision there would be consequences. After just a week of being king of Israel, Saul lost God s blessing on his ministry and his kingdom because of disobedience. Saul began his reign as king with the power and presence of God. Saul reigned for another 42 years, but after the first week, God knew that Saul was a person who would always do things his own way and not be obedient to him. There are times when the decision and action we take is a defining moment in our lives. There are times when we are faced with a decision that will test and define who we really are. Most of the time we do not know when a decision or an action is a defining moment. We see that King Saul failed at his defining moment. Failing the test of obedience for Saul meant that he lost the blessing of God on his ministry and kingdom, though he continued to reign for 42 more years. 4

5 It is interesting to me that Saul had not broken one of the 10 Commandments. He had not killed someone or committed adultery. He simply was not obedient in carrying out the Lord s instruction to him. We must always be ready for our own defining moment by being ready for obedience. Smart people are always ready with their intellect. Creative people are always ready with their creativity. Hard working people are always ready with their labor. And so it is with people who are obedient to God. People who consistently practice obedience are ready when God calls for obedience. Obedience is not a sometimes thing, but a lifetime of decisions and performance. Saul began as the king of Israel with great potential, but he lost that potential because of disobedience. Let us be fully and faithfully obedient, so that each of us will realize God s potential in our lives and ministries. And, together we will realize God s potential for our church. Like Saul, we too are appointed to carry out the will of God. Our potential with God will only be realized through obedience. 5

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