Early in his reign, Saul was fighting against the Philistines. Before going into battle, an offering was to be made to the Lord, led by Samuel the priest. Saul “waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him” (13:8). So, Saul himself led in the offering, a role he was not permitted to fill, and Samuel, upon arriving, announced, “now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart” (13:14). This episode pretty much sets things in motion and, though Saul largely kept Israel safe from her enemies, his was a troubled reign, and David was soon to be anointed as the future king (chapter 16).
Samuel explained: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (15:22). It would take weeks, if not months, to flesh out from Scripture the importance of loving God. I can’t help but think of Amos 5:21-24 and Micah 6:6-8. And what about Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37? And, then, there is this from Jeremiah: “23 Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23,24). Saul got it wrong. Let’s be sure we get it right.