1 SAMUEL 13
Did you know that God sometimes gets treated like a god? That’s exactly what Saul was doing in 1 Samuel 13. Somehow, in his mind, Saul had reduced God to an item on a checklist, a thing to be manipulated. And that thinking got him into a lot of trouble.
At first, when I read this chapter, I thought it was just a little bit harsh that Saul should lose the kingship forever because he jumped the gun and offered sacrifices to the Lord. That was Samuel’s job, but Saul got tired of waiting and did it for him. When Samuel asked him why he had committed this violation of the Lord’s command, Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." (vs 11-12)
Apparently, Saul knew that he should wait for Samuel, but Saul wasn’t thinking about that. Saul was thinking about going into battle, and in his mind, he believed that one of the items on his pre-war checklist was offering sacrifices to God so God would be with him. In other words, he had stopped thinking of God as a Person and started thinking of Him as an object to be manipulated.
And God cannot be manipulated.
J.B. Phillips once wrote a book called Your God is Too Small. It is about our tendency to want to put God into any number of various boxes. It is about our inclination to turn God into a god, an object to be manipulated and controlled. Talk about playing with fire! We are treading on thin ice whenever we attempt to manage God, for we are creatures, and the creatures can never manage the Creator. God is much too big to be a god. He is much too big to fit into any size box we try to stuff Him into.
Time and again throughout Scripture, God has broken out of the molds we try to place Him in. He has shattered every expectation we have for how a god should think and behave. In fact, it was He who summed it up most eloquently when He said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa 55:9)
In this chapter, much to his dismay, Saul discovered that God cannot be reduced to an object. He cannot be manipulated into acting the way we want Him to act. And thank God for that.