Today's devotion from 1 Samuel 12-13.
Today's reading delved into Samuel's farewell and Saul's failure. There is debate about how long Saul had served as chapter 13 opens. Regardless of his age or length of reign, we see that he is caught in an embittered battle against the Philistines.
On the threshold of confrontation, Saul faces the problem of knowing the skirmish looms, but the fight has left his men. They began to scatter as Saul awaited Samuel. Saul see's the writing on the wall. As each man leaves, so too does his strength and ability to wage a successful campaign against the Philistines. Faced with this challenge, he takes matters into his own hands.
You see, Samuel was coming to offer sacrifice for the soldiers. The men had gathered, but as verse 7 revealed, they "followed him trembling." They were terrified. The reason for Samuel's presence was to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the men so that God might bless them in battle. Samuel wasn't just a judge for a period, but had been raised up to serve as a priest in lieu of Eli and his corrupt sons.
When he arrived and saw that Saul had made the sacrifice, he uttered the words repeated in the title of this blog post. What is telling about this whole episode that is implied in this phrase is the self-centered perspective of Saul. He broke from the decreed practices prescribed by God to perform an act, not worship.
You see, it was an act instead of worship because his eyes were not on God, but on the fleeing Israelite soldiers abandoning him. Had Saul truly wanted to worship God, his offering would have been made in a way that as acceptable to God. Instead, what we see is a man bent on manipulating others and using religion as a tool to control, or at least sway, them.
It wasn't about God. It was about his kingdom, his plans, and his power. I wonder how many times we fool ourselves into thinking that we are worshipping or honoring God, when all we're really doing is trying to satisfy some selfish motive?