Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 82/260: Samuel

Read 1 Samuel 13:1-15

Good Intentions Do Not Excuse Sin

The battle with the Philistines apparently was not going according to plan. Saul’s army was three thousand strong, divided between himself and his son Jonathan. The Philistines responded to Saul’s attack with thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and with so many soldiers “as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude” (1 Samuel 13:5). Israel’s response was understandably one of fear and distress; the text says that “the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits” (1 Samuel 13:6).

Saul remained in Gilgal with some “trembling” followers. He waited for Samuel to arrive. He waited seven days. I imagine he was anxiously looking for the prophet, perhaps setting a man on some high ground to see as far as he could see and know as soon as Samuel was approaching. Had Samuel not set the time of his arrival? Saul waited, but his patience wore thin. The people that had stayed with him finally scattered. They, like the rest of Israel, were scared. Saul could wait no longer.

“Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me,” he demanded (1 Samuel 13:9). He waited, but not long enough. “Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came” (1 Samuel 13:10).

Samuel knew what had happened. He confronted the king about his sin. What was Saul’s response? “I felt compelled” (1 Samuel 13:12). Scared by the Philistine army, facing danger all alone, Saul “felt compelled” to do something. But it was not the something that God had commanded.

Samuel tells Saul that he had acted “foolishly” (1 Samuel 13:13). Is that not always the case when we disobey the Lord? It is right to do what is right; it is foolish to sin. Always! “You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:13).

When God says to do something, we should do that thing. We must not look for loopholes or offer excuses for disobedience. If He says sing, we should sing. It does not matter if we “felt compelled” to do more. God said to do a specific thing; we should honor His command, whether it relates to worship or salvation or the way we live our everyday lives in this world. Good intentions do not excuse sin!

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