Why was God so mean to King Saul? A premature sacrifice (1 Sam. 13) and an incomplete slaughter (1 Sam. 15). As sins go, those seem mild. David, “a man after God’s own heart”, committed adultery and murder, and he got off lightly compared to the judgment that fell upon Saul. Why was God so mean to Saul?
Let’s look at 1 Samuel 13. Saul had already defeated the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11), and a Philistine garrison. Now he’s getting ready to fight the Philistine army. The prophet Samuel told Saul to wait for seven days at Gilgal, then he would come and make a sacrifice before the battle. Saul is outnumbered. According to the text, Saul has about 3000 troops and the Philistines have about 30,000 chariots and 6000 horsemen. Saul is seriously outnumbered. The Philistine forces are “like sand on the seashore” (1 Sam. 13:5).
To make things worse, Saul’s forces are starting to panic and desert. Saul realizes he needs to act fast, and he can’t wait for Samuel any longer. It’s been seven days. He needs to take matters into his own hands. He offers the sacrifice to ensure that they have God’s favor for their military efforts.
The moment Saul’s sacrifice is over, Samuel shows up. Was he watching Saul all this time? Samuel blasts Saul, “What have you done?!?” Then Samuel tells Saul that God would have given him an eternal dynastic promise (David got one of those: 2 Samuel 7), and his kingdom is going to be cut off.
Seems harsh, don’t you think?
Why do you think Samuel and God were so harsh toward Saul? (to be continued…)