Many years have passed since Saul was anointed king over Israel. Saul is now old enough to have a son, Jonathan, and Jonathan is old enough to command troops. We find Saul engaged in battle with the Philistines – and it is here in Chapter 13, that we first read of God rejecting Saul as king.
And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
What did Saul do that was so bad that God would remove his kingship? On the surface, it seems as if the punishment doesn’t match the crime. Saul was pressed from all sides… Samuel was late in arriving, and Saul wanted to inquire of the Lord, so he took on the priestly role and offered the sacrifices in Samuel’s place… What’s the big deal?
Saul’s heart. That’s the big deal. Saul did not obey God in the face of difficult circumstances. And when questioned by Samuel, Saul had the opportunity to repent, but instead, he made excuses. He justified his sin.
Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14 only reinforces the truth that God is concerned with the heart – not religious duty or outward appearances.
God looked into Saul’s heart and saw a presumptuous man who trusted more in himself than in God. He saw independence and vanity – foolishness and pride. Saul was not a man after God’s own heart.
I shudder at what God sees when He looks inside my heart. Apart from Christ, I am ruined! But thankfully, my Rescuer lives… and works on my behalf to mold me to be more like Himself. This is my hope, and I am grateful.