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  • Writer's pictureAlan Fong

The Autopsy of Failure

Today’s Verse:

Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. ~1 Samuel 13:12


Failure is when we fall short of accomplishing or finishing something that we set out to do. It is a student who doesn’t get enough answers on a crucial exam and does not get a passing grade. It is a business that cannot garner enough customers to be profitable. It is a relationship that terminates due to lack of trust, communication deficiencies, and emotional hurt. Failure is when we sin against God through lack of trust, obedience, and faithfulness. Let us see the autopsy of failure.

We see Saul’s dilemma.

“And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.” The Philistines assembled in Michmash to fight with Saul. Saul’s army was substantially outnumbered. When his men saw the massive Philistine army, they scattered from him. Saul was distressed that he could not instill courage in his men to stand with him. In addition, Samuel did not come to him as he expected. This was Saul’s biggest test in the first two years of his reign. His dilemma was what he was supposed to do.

We see Saul’s departure.

Faced with the opposition, a shortage of soldiers, and Samuel’s absence, Saul “forced himself.” First, Saul failed to pray. In fact, his own admission was, “I have not made supplication.” A leader who does not pray is a failed leader. John R. Rice once said that all our failures are prayer failures. James said, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” Lack of prayer is why we do not have revival and victory over sin. Lack of prayer is a lack of faith. Second, Saul presumed upon God. He presumed that Samuel would not come. He presumed that it was his responsibility to take Samuel’s place and make burnt and peace offerings to get God’s approval. Saul lacked in faith and trust. Saul lacked in wisdom in seeking the Lord. Saul departed from the basic foundation of getting God to work in his “impossible situation.”

We see Saul’s disobedience.

Saul offered burnt and peace offerings. Samuel caught him red-handed and asked, “What hast thou done?” Saul demonstrated what would be a repeated practice in his life: disobedience to the commands of God. Saul said, “I forced myself.” He took matters into his own hands. He assumed that he was above Samuel. He was a man who could not be reasoned with. He lacked faith in God. He did not believe in prayer. Samuel told him that he was foolish for not keeping the commandment of the Lord his God. Samuel’s word to Saul was God’s command. Saul forced himself and did not believe that he needed to obey. A disobedient leader is a failed leader.

We see Saul’s dismissal.

Samuel told Saul that he failed to demonstrate that he could be trusted with challenges and opportunities of faith. Samuel sadly told Saul that the kingdom would not continue under him but would be given to a man after God’s own heart. Saul lost God’s approval and forfeited his right to be king over God’s people. Leadership responsibility is not something we should take lightly. We must not fall into the trap of “forcing ourselves” to take matters into our hands. If we cannot trust in God, we cannot be trusted by God. The autopsy of failure is seen in Saul’s presumption, prayerlessness, and reckless disobedience. "To obey is better than sacrifice." Live your life so that you are pleasing to God.

Have a God-pleasing God Morning!

Bible Reading Schedule: Galatians 1-3

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