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Emotional Faith

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1 Samuel 13:8–14

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.

And Samuel said, “What have you done?”

Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”

And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

Samuel did say (in 1 Samuel 10:8) that he’d arrive in seven days, but his being a bit late shouldn’t be a big deal. It wasn’t deadline. Even in today’s “track packages” world, something or someone arriving one day later than predicted isn’t surprising. Back then it was nothing.

But Saul panics and does the one thing he must not do. What’s the rush? This is so ridiculous that it’s like saying, “The doctor was late so I decided to start the surgery anyway.”

So, Samuel’s reaction to this is basically, “Are you crazy?” The Hebrew translated as, “You have done foolishly” (נִסְכָּ֑לְתָּ, nis-kal-tah) means he acted both stupidly and immorally. The rule he broke was not unclear. Its importance was not unclear. By breaking it, Saul showed that he doesn’t take God seriously.

That kind of attitude is telling.

We should be careful to understand Saul’s mistake here. This is not something we’re immune to.

Saul’s basic problem was not trusting God. He was thinking of God; that’s why he made a sacrifice. It wasn’t a sacrifice to Baal; it was a sacrifice to the LORD. Yet he wasn’t actually trusting God as God.

Deep inside his heart, his faith wasn’t in the LORD; it was in the sacrifice. He was functionally a believer, but intellectually he wasn’t. He saw some things work and he believed in them, but that’s it.

He believed emotionally—the same way some people believe in superstitions—but he had no logical foundation to his beliefs. It was all feelings.

That’s not faith.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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