Understandably, Saul was anxious to seek Yahweh’s favour before going into battle and the plan was to have Samuel offer sacrifices and prayer. When he didn’t arrive on schedule Saul, impatient and desperate, decided to make the offerings himself. It was a dreadful mistake and cost him the kingdom. (1 Samuel 13:11-14) That Samuel arrived as Saul completed the act seems to indicate that he was not, after all, overly late!
It’s easy to dismiss Saul’s impatience and presumption with the thought that he should have known better. But a week can be a long time when the pressure and responsibility of a difficult situation tightens the nerves and chips away at the spirit – it must have seemed like a lifetime to Saul and the commanders of his army.
When we desperately need to hear from Yahweh in any situation, waiting is one of the hardest tests. Prayer is answered in one of three ways, “Yes”, “No”, and “Wait a while”. As Saul ‘waited a while’ he watched his disintegrating army and panicked, reacting impulsively and doing the wrong thing when help was almost at hand. Does this sound familiar? Have you ever tried to ‘work out’ an answer for yourself, letting go of faith and trust because the ‘wait’ seemed interminable? I know I have! I am learning to “Be still before [Yahweh] and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7) Take courage and ‘wait a while’ because the One who is endlessly faithful will neither disappoint nor ignore you.