Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 13

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Samuel and Saul (c 8-15)
Message: God Rejects Saul for Disobedience (v 1-25)

1 Samuel 13 Commentary

(13:3-4) Saul's Pride Starts to Show - Jonathan attacked and destroyed the Philistine garrison, but Saul took all the credit for it. Although this was normal in that culture, it didn't make his action right. Saul's growing pride started out small--taking credit for a battle that had been won by his son. Left unchecked, his pride grew into an ugly obsession. It destroyed him, tore his family apart, and threatened the well-being of God's people. Taking credit for the accomplishments of others indicates that pride is controlling your life. When you notice pride taking a foothold, take immediate steps to put it in check by giving credit to those who deserve it.

(13:6) Focus on the Lord - When we forget who is on our side or see only our own resources, we tend to panic at the sight of the opposition. The Israelites became terrified and hid when they saw the mighty Philistine army. They forgot that God was on their side and that he couldn't be defeated. As you face problems and temptations, focus your attention on God and his resources, trusting him to help you (Romans 8:31-37).

(13:9) Saul Disobeys the Lord - Rather than waiting for Samuel, Saul offered the sacrifice himself. This was against God's laws (Numbers 18:4-7) and against the specific instructions of Samuel (1 Samuel 10:8). Under pressure from the approaching Philistines, he took matters into his own hands and disobeyed God. He was doing a good thing (offering a sacrifice to God before a crucial battle), but he was doing it in the wrong way. Like Saul's, our true spiritual character is revealed under pressure. The methods we use to accomplish our goals are as important as the attainment of those goals.

(13:11-12) Fear Not Faith - One of the most difficult times to trust God is when you feel your resources slipping away. When Saul felt that time was running out, he became impatient with God's timing. Thinking that the act of offering the sacrifice was all he needed, he moved ahead without Samuel. But he confused the sacrifice itself with the God to whom he was making the sacrifice. When faced with a difficult decision, don't allow impatience to drive you to disobey God. When you know what God wants, follow his plan regardless of the perceived consequences. God often uses delays to test our obedience and patience.

(13:12-13) Rationalizing Sin - Saul had plenty of excuses for his disobedience. But Samuel zeroed in on the real issue: "Thou hast not kept the commandment of the LorD thy God." Like Saul, we often gloss over our mistakes and sins, trying to justify and spiritualize our actions because of our "special" circumstances. Our excuses, however, are nothing more than disobedience. God knows our true motives. He forgives, restores, and blesses only when we are honest about our sins. By trying to hide his sins behind excuses, Saul lost his kingship (13:14).

(13:13) Samuel Rebukes Saul - Why did Samuel react to Saul's disobedience so harshly? By offering the sacrifice himself, Saul directly violated God's law because he was only permitted to offer a sacrifice with a priest Numbers 18:4-7). Saul was already beginning to ignore the charge that Samuel had just recently given him (1 Samuel 12:14-15). Almost at once after becoming king, he began to work independently of God's law, the priests, and the prophets. Such actions disqualified him from his real task, which was to be God's representative for the people. Leaders who consistently disobey God's laws for living will face the natural consequences that follow for those who live in opposition to God. God wants leaders who will obey him not only for the sake of their own lives but for the sake of the people they lead.

(13:19-22) Israel is at a Disadvantage - Israel was in no position to conquer anyone. The army had no iron weapons and no facilities for turning their tools into weapons. In fact, if the Israelites wanted to sharpen their tools, they had to pay Philistine blacksmiths to do it because the Philistines had a carefully guarded monopoly on iron and blacksmithing. And they charged high prices for sharpening farm implements. The Philistines' tight control over the technology, along with their surprise raids, demoralized the Israelites and kept them in subjection Against such superiority, the Israelites were at a serious disadvantage. How could they hope to defeat their oppressors? Only with God's help. God wanted to give Israel victory without iron swords so they would realize their true source of strength.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Obey the Lord through His Word


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1st Samuel with Chapter 13. In our text, we see Saul disobeying God by wrongly making a sacrifice. Saul's pride and lack of patience in waiting for the Lord as he took the sacrifice into his own hands. This act of not wanting to do things the Lord's way again brings judgment to Saul. In making an application, we, too, can take the will of the Lord into our own hands, disobeying the Word of God and then making decisions that are against God's will that will ultimately bring judgment in our lives. I see this in so many lives, people marrying the wrong person, poor financial decisions, poor career paths, etc., because they don't obey the Lord - by waiting on the Lord. The simple truth is that if your decision is contrary to the Word of God, it is wrong. How about you? Do you tend not to wait on the Lord doing things contrary to His Word? Let us learn from our text today and the life of Saul to Obey the Lord by Obeying His Word.


1 Samuel 13

1 Samuel 13

 1Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.

3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven.

6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.

7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.

16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:

18 And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:

20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.

21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.

22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.

23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.