1 Samuel 13:1-23

Daybreak for Students

1 Samuel 13:1-23

1 Samuel 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. — 1 Samuel 13:13

Disobedience does not pay. That is a concept that we try to teach our children while they are still young. The discipline we give them is intended to help them understand just how foolish their disobedience was, and also to cause them to remember not to disobey in the future.

However, once we become adults, we must take care not to forget this concept ourselves. For example, if we disregard speed zones when we are driving, we may have to pay for our lack of obedience to the traffic laws in the form of a traffic citation. At a much more critical level, we need to be sure that we do not become neglectful or impatient and thus disobey God.

Waiting on God can be one of the strongest tests of obedience. One lady testifies that she prayed about a husband. God clearly let her know that He would give her one, and that He had a duty for her in that marriage. God helped her to understand that she would have to wait for a period of time, but never did she guess that she would have to wait over fourteen years! The waiting was hard, but now she is married to a leader in our church. She is so glad that she held on to God’s promise and kept waiting. What a sad story it would be if she had given up after a few years!

In today’s text, Saul became nervous when Samuel did not arrive, and the men of his army began to desert him. He disobeyed God’s commandments when he made a sacrifice, which should have been done only by a priest. Samuel told him that he had “done foolishly.”

As we face each day, we do not want to do foolishly. We want to ask God to help us obey Him. We will be glad that we did!


King Saul started out with high ideals, good motivation, and God’s strength behind him. Two years into his reign he chose a small group of three thousand fighting men. Michmash was north of Jerusalem. Gibeah, where Jonathan and his one thousand men were camped, was approximately fifteen miles away. Jonathan and his troops defeated the Philistine garrison at Geba, and King Saul sent the word around to encourage his people. The Philistines took this act as a declaration of war and gathered their massive army together to fight against Israel.

The Children of Israel, seeing the army gathering against them, quickly became fearful. Many went into hiding, and those who stuck with Saul were described as “trembling.” Saul became impatient and made a sacrifice just before Samuel arrived. Saul’s downward slide was characterized by three attitudes: impatience, pride, and unbelief. Saul made unwise decisions because he looked at things with the natural eye instead of the spiritual eye of faith. He then tried to cover up his actions with half-truths and lies, minimizing his own faults and not taking any blame.

Israel was greatly outnumbered. The Philistines were “as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude” (verse 5). In verse 2, Saul had three thousand men. By verse 15, he was down to six hundred. Also, the army of Israel was without weapons. There were not even Israelite blacksmiths who could sharpen the farming tools.

“Spoilers,” referenced in verse 17, were raiders, and these bands of men were on the roads going north, south, east, and west. Ophrah was to the north, Zeboim was to the east, and Beth-horon was to the west. The “passage of Michmash,” referenced in verse 23, was to the south. In the natural, Israel’s situation looked hopeless.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   The reign of Saul
     A.   The rise of King Saul
           5.   Saul’s initial conflict with the Philistines
                 a.   The scattering of Israel’s army (13:1-7)
                 b.   The impetuousness of Saul (13:8-14)
                       (1)   Saul’s sin (13:8-10)
                       (2)   Saul’s excuses (13:11-13)
                       (3)   Saul’s rejection announced (13:14)
                 c.   The oppression of Israel (13:15-23)


  1. Why did King Saul offer the sacrifice himself? 

  2. Saul’s downward slide seems to follow a pattern in 13:8-12. What pattern do you see? How could a pattern like this apply to one’s spiritual maturity?

  3. Perhaps you are waiting for an answer from God. How can you encourage yourself to keep holding on in faith?


God is never late. He wants us to wait on Him no matter what the circumstances appear to be. He wants to help us build our faith and spiritual maturity and to lead us to victories. If we are obedient, God will give us the victory in His time.