1 Samuel 13:11
And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) What hast thou done?—The deeper aspects of King Saul’s sin are discussed in Excursus F. On this memorable occasion the king plainly told Samuel that though he would gratefully receive any help which the prophet of the Most High could and would bring him, still, in an emergency like the present, sooner than run any risk, he preferred to act alone, and, if necessary, to go into battle without Divine consecration and blessing. The danger at this juncture was imminent; to ward it off, he considered that the direct Divine intimation which he allowed he had received through Samuel must be disregarded. Acting upon this persuasion, he set it aside, acting according to the ordinary dictates of worldly prudence. He must in his action at Gilgal either have forgotten or disbelieved the story of the Joshua conquest, and of the signal deliverances under the hero Judges, when the Glorious Arm fought by the people, and splendid successes were won in the face of enormous odds through the intervention of no mortal aid.

Saul might have been, and was, a valiant and skilful general, but was no fitting Viceroy of the invisible King in heaven, who required from him before all things the most ardent unquestioning faith.

Saul and his house, it is too clear, would only rule the Israel of God according to the dictates of their own haughty will.

The twice-repeated assertion of Samuel, “Thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord” (1Samuel 13:13-14)—an assertion uncontradicted by Saul—shows us that this whole transaction was an act of overt rebellion against the will of the Eternal.

1 Samuel 13:11-12. I saw that thou camest not — When the seventh day was come, and a good part of it was past, I concluded thou wouldst not come that day. I have not made supplication — Hence it appears that sacrifices were accompanied with solemn prayers. I forced myself — I did it against my own mind and inclination: I offered a burnt-offering lest my enemies should attack me before I had commended myself and my cause to God, and entreated his aid and blessing.

13:8-14 Saul broke the order expressly given by Samuel, see ch.Saul had come from Michmash to Gilgal, expecting to gather the force of the whole nation around him. Instead of that, the people fled, leaving him in the exposed plain with only 600 men 1 Samuel 13:15. The Philistines occupied Michmash, and might at any moment pour down the valley upon Gilgal. Saul's situation was obviously one of extreme peril. A few hours' delay might prove fatal to him and his little army. Hence, he "forced" himself, etc. 1Sa 13:9-16. Saul, Weary of Waiting for Samuel, Sacrifices.

9-14. Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings—Saul, though patriotic enough in his own way, was more ambitious of gaining the glory of a triumph to himself than ascribing it to God. He did not understand his proper position as king of Israel; and although aware of the restrictions under which he held the sovereignty, he wished to rule as an autocrat, who possessed absolute power both in civil and sacred things. This occasion was his first trial. Samuel waited till the last day of the seven, in order to put the constitutional character of the king to the test; and, as Saul, in his impatient and passionate haste knowingly transgressed (1Sa 13:12) by invading the priest's office and thus showing his unfitness for his high office (as he showed nothing of the faith of Gideon and other Hebrew generals), he incurred a threat of the rejection which his subsequent waywardness confirmed.

What hast thou done? he suspected that Saul had transgressed, either by his dejected countenance, or some words uttered by him, though not here expressed; but he asks him, that he might be more fitly and certainly informed, and that Saul might be brought to an ingenuous confession of his sin, and true repentance for it.

within the days appointed, i.e. when the seventh day was come, and a good part of it past; whence I concluded thou wouldst not come that day, and that thou hadst forgotten thy appointment, or been hindered by some extraordinary occasion.

And Samuel said, what hast thou done? This question he put to bring him to a confession of what he had done, otherwise he guessed at it by his countenance; or rather, by the prophetic spirit he was endowed with, he knew it certainly that he had offered the sacrifices without waiting for him:

and Saul said because I saw the people were scattered from me; they were deserting, and he feared, if he stayed any longer, they would all leave him; this was one reason of doing what he did:

and that thou camest not within the days appointed; seven days were appointed, and because the seventh day was come, though it was not gone, he concluded Samuel would not come at all; and that was another reason why he did what he did; and by this would have laid the blame on Samuel, as if he did not keep his time; whereas it was Saul's impatience that hurried him to this action:

and that the Philistines gathered themselves together to Michmash; where his station before was, and from thence he might quickly expect them at Gilgal; and this was another reason why he hastened the sacrifice.

And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were {h} scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

(h) Though these causes seem sufficient in man's judgment: yet because they had not the word of God, they turned to his destruction.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. Because I saw, &c.] The situation was critical in the extreme. Saul’s army was hourly melting away. Scarcely ten miles distant was the Philistine host, ready to pour down and crush him. How could he take the field without entreating God’s favour? Was not this sufficient excuse for his conduct?

Verse 11. - What hast thou done? The question implies rebuke, which Saul answers by pleading his danger. Each day's delay made his small force dwindle rapidly away, and the Philistines might at any hour move down from Michmash upon him at Gilgal and destroy him. But it was the reality of the danger which put his faith and obedience to the trial. 1 Samuel 13:11The offering of the sacrifice was hardly finished when Samuel came and said to Saul, as he came to meet him and salute him, "What hast thou done?" Saul replied, "When I saw that the people were scattered away from me, and thou camest not at the time appointed, and the Philistines were assembled at Michmash, I thought the Philistines will come down to me to Gilgal now (to attack me), before I have entreated the face of Jehovah; and I overcame myself, and offered the burnt-offering." יי פּני חלּה: see Exodus 32:11.
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