A Rash Decision and Stinging Rebuke

A Rash Decision and Stinging Rebuke

I Samuel 13, A Rash Decision and a Stinging Rebuke


The “Teaching Aim” for this Sundays lesson is “To encourage adults to place their full trust in God to avoid panic and foolish decisions.”  It is a tall order but it is also a very relevant lesson for our lives.

We don’t know everything about Saul’s life and leadership.  However, from what we do know I would summarize:

  • His very anointing as a leader was a compromise God made after the people pleaded for a King.
  • Saul did not go looking for this role and from last week’s lesson we remember him first being overwhelmed by the idea.
  • Saul’s strongest attributes for the job were qualities more admirable to people than to God, e.g. his height and physicality, the successful family he came from, etc.
  • Saul was not grounded in a relationship with God, his relationship was shallow.
  • Saul “took matters into his own hands”.  In 1 Samuel chapter 13:12 he confessed he had not acted with assurance of what would please God.
  • Saul’s relationship or understanding of God seemed to be more about control or manipulate as he offered a burnt offering in order to gain God’s presence and favor.

I have made some very general negative character statements about Saul.  You or your class members may see other qualities in Saul’s life from which to learn. (We learn from “success” and “failure”.)  However, this lesson is not only about what Saul did or did not do, it is also about the lessons of a nation and what we can learn.  You might want to use questions such as the following or the ones from the Grants (below) or from the Study Guide to direct your discussion.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 being the most):

  1. To what degree does fear influence your thinking and decision making?

                1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 –  7 – 8 – 9 – 10

  1. In your lifetime, to what degree have you made “rash” and sometimes unwise decisions?

               1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 –  7 – 8 – 9 – 10

  1. To what degree has you decision making process changed over time?

               1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 –  7 – 8 – 9 – 10

  1. To what degree do you now take time to pray and allow God to shape your thinking before making a big decisions?

               1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 –  7 – 8 – 9 – 10

My prayers are with you as you prepare and teach this lesson.

In His Love,


Comments by Wayne and Veronica Grant…

Biblical history and secular history agree on the setting of today’s lesson. The events described in the 13th chapter of I Samuel occurred somewhere around 1000 to 1100 BC. This was a time of transition from the archeological late Bronze Age to the early Iron age. By this time the Philistines had obtained the superior iron technology used in tool and weapon making. The Israelites were not as advanced and were still depending on the less effective Bronze weaponry. Thus, the Philistines were able to maintain some power over the Israelites in what amounted to an ongoing conflict between the two cultures.

This resulted in a standoff between the Israelites and their neighbors. The two cultures were in constant conflict. The Philistines would win a battle, only to be overrun later by the Israelites. Secular history reveals that this conflict went on for decades. The Bible is in agreement with this also.

It was in this context that today’s lesson plays out. The one strength that the Israelites had over the Philistines was the presence of YAHWEH (the Lord). But Saul and Jonathan threw away this advantage and relied on their own judgement. Frustrated with the pace of Samuel’s actions, they took matters into their own hands and relied on their own judgement. Thus, they went off to battle unprepared, and untrained. The result is that without God’s leadership, they suffered disaster.

After an initial show of bravado, Saul was overcome with fear. His panic brought him to disregard Samuel’s clear direction to wait. Saul’s fear kept him from trusting God.

Questions for discussion and reflection:

  1. Has there been a time when you succumbed to fear rather than trust in God?
  2. The writer of the Study Guide states, “God is not interested in the “why” of disobedience. He does not negotiate terms of righteous.” Have your class discuss this statement.
  3. Who suffers when there is no peace?
  4. The Study Guide states that instead of admitting wrong doing, Saul responded with a list of “excuses.” What do you think of a leader who will not accept responsibility for his mistakes?

Vicki L. Hollon

Minister to Adults

Trinity Baptist Church