Hard Pressed // 1 Samuel 13:1-14

Common Theme (1 Samuel 1-13):

Lay down your idols, fix your eyes on God, obey/faithfully serve Him alone.

  • When our focus is misaligned, our obedience in misappropriated 
    • As long as our eyes are fixed on our situations, problems, sins, etc--and not on the One--we will never experience victory in our life.
Hebrews 12:1-2a - Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...


  • The nation of Israel now has a king, named Saul.
  • God has given Saul great victory in his battle over the Ammonites 
  • Samuel gathers the people and helps them recognize their sin in asking for a king
  • Turn from your idols, fear the Lord (fix your eyes on Him), and faithfully serve Him (obedience).

1 Samuel 13:1-2 - Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years. 2 Saul selected 3,000 special troops from the army of Israel and sent the rest of the men home. He took 2,000 of the chosen men with him to Micmash and the hill country of Bethel. The other 1,000 went with Saul’s son Jonathan to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin.

  • Matthew Henry - "If he intended these only for the guard of his person and his honorary attendants, it was impolitic to have so many, if for a standing army, in apprehension of danger from the Philistines, it was no less impolitic to have so few…”

1 Samuel 13:3-7a - Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba. The news spread quickly among the Philistines. So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land, saying, “Hebrews, hear this! Rise up in revolt!” 4 All Israel heard the news that Saul had destroyed the Philistine garrison at Geba and that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever. So the entire Israelite army was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal. 5 The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore! They camped at Micmash east of Beth-aven. 6 The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. 7 Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead.

  • The Israelite army discovers that they are hard pressed by the enemy, so they run and hide.

What is your response when you are hard pressed?
We can respond in two ways: Fear or Faith.

1 Samuel 13:7b-9 - Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. 8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

  • Doesn’t this sound familiar? 
  • In the opening chapters of 1 Samuel we see the Israelites in a battle with the Philistines and instead of faith, instead of prayer, they run and grab the ark. 
  • Saul is doing the same thing!

1 Samuel 13:10-12 - Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, 11 but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. 12 So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

  • Notice what Saul’s eyes were focused on:
    • His men were scattering
    • Samuel was late
    • The Philistines are ready for battle
  • Saul says he felt compelled to act on his own. 
    • Proverbs 16:2 - "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.”
  • Instead of faith, Saul responds in fear. 
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” -Hebrews 11:1
"7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. … 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18 (NIV)
  • Paul said it this way: "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
  • The difference between faith and fear is our focus. 
  • The psalmist said, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 121:1-2)

1 Samuel 13:13-14 - “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

  • Samuel tells Saul that his kingdom must end, because God has sought out a man after His own heart.
  • We’ve come full circle again: Drop the crutch, fix your eyes on Him, and serve Him alone.
  • God is looking for those with a heart after His.