"When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him.
So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”
Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
1 Samuel 13: 6-14
Within this particular chapter of the Old Testament, we find Israel's king Saul in a moment of difficulty. With the Philistine army swiftly approaching for battle, his own troops were deserting him and hiding in fear. Not only that but his one source of connection to God ( and supernatural favor in said battle) was "late" for a very important appointment. At this time, kings and military leaders were forbidden to make sacrifices to God. That task was reserved only for those within the priesthood as Samuel was. Making the offering would result in Saul completely disregarding an order from God. Saul found himself with a choice to make, wait on Samuel to arrive and risk possible defeat, or act against a command from the Lord to ensure the sacrifice would be made.
As we know, the king unfortunately acted recklessly and didn't make the right decision. The story of Saul's downfall paints a clear portrait of what pride and impatience can do. Out of both he deliberately disobeyed God as it pertained to how offerings should be given and by whom. He saw the circumstances at hand and instead of waiting on God ( waiting on Samuel) chose to take matters into his own hands. This one mistake caused him to pay a high price, through it he lost his kingship and a legacy. He could have had a kingdom but instead he was left without the favor he so desperately sought. God would give another man, one who was "after his own heart," all of the blessings first intended for him.
Saul was arrogant and foolish in thinking 1) that God would fail to show up exactly when he said he would 2) that claiming control and disobeying would actually end in receiving blessing. What would have happened had he acted out of patience and trust, choosing to honor God through his actions? Could things have turned out differently for this great king?
Although it would be easy to judge Saul for his actions, if all of us take an honest look at ourselves, it would be easy to find that we react in a similar way when we're asked to wait. The fact that patience is a virtue doesn't make it any easier to practice. Although we may not face physical battles, there are many circumstances where we are patiently waiting for the presence and favor of God to arrive. Whether it be a job opportunity, spouse, or spiritual breakthrough; we each have our own personal " Samuel" that's on its way. We also have a choice, either to trust in God to act in his time or attempt to take control ourselves.
The thing that strikes me most about this passage is that fact that Samuel didn't show up late as Saul so feared but arrived on the seventh day, exactly when he was meant to. In fact, verse 10 even says that "As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel came."
There's a particular scene in Lord Of The Rings where Gandolf doesn't show up exactly when he's meant to. Upon being confronted by Frodo he cleverly replies "A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to." To me, this perfectly describes the nature of God as well. While his pace may not match our own, he is sovereign and his timing is perfect. He has promised to send us his presence, just as he sent Samuel to Saul, and he always delivers. It is simply up to us to rest in that truth and to trust him in our moments of waiting. He will arrive precisely when he's meant to.
What are some "Samuels" that you are waiting on? Do you choose to react in patience instead of pride and fear? How can we glorify God more in our waiting, knowing that he always comes through?