These three chapters record three sins of King Saul–sins
that ultimately cost him the kingdom.
The first was that of impatience. The time had come for
Israel to gather at Gilgal as Samuel and Saul had agreed months
before. The vast host of the Philistines began to assemble and the
longer Saul waited, the more dangerous his position became. If he
were to strike immediately he could defeat the enemy, but his delay
only gave them opportunity to become stronger. Saul’s impatience and
unbelief led him to go ahead without Samuel, and while he was
completing the offering the prophet arrived. Saul tried to put the
blame on Samuel and the people. But the prophet knew the truth. This
was the beginning of the end. If God could not trust Saul in this
little matter, how could He trust him with the kingdom? Saul’s
disobedience cost him the kingdom.
The second of Saul’s sins recorded here is that of pride.
Jonathan is one of the finest characters in sacred history, a
picture of genuine victorious faith–a glowing contrast to his
father. King Saul was surrounded by a company, among whom were
relatives of Eli, but who manifested unbelief. The Lord miraculously
worked through an earthquake, sending confusion and destruction
among the Philistines.
The third sin of Saul was that of disobedience. God would
give Saul one more chance to prove himself, this time in utterly
destroying Israel’s old enemies, the Amalekites. But Saul did not
obey the Lord. He lied to Samuel, saying he had obeyed. As a result,
Saul lost his earthly humility and became proud and disobedient. He
had rebelled against the Word of God and had tried to make up for
his disobedience by sacrifices.
Saul wanted a good reputation; he lost the Lord’s blessing;
and he lost the kingdom. From then on it would be a dark, winding
road to becoming a castaway, and being slain by the very Amalekites
he refused to kill.