5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.
This is the first time we start to see that God has picked another leader, a man after his own heart to become King. An interesting observation to make in the discussion between Samuel and Saul if you read on is that Saul talks about God like this… He calls God the Lord your (Samuel’s) God. He does not call Him the Lord my God even though he is God’s anointed king.
In this story the Israelites are hopelessly out numbered, they are hiding in caves and toilets to flee from the Philistines, as the story progresses we see that the Israelites don’t have any weapons either…they are going to get slaughtered. Saul and his men sit apathetic waiting whilst his son Jonathan slips out with his armour bearer and takes on one of the Philistine posts saying this…Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
This one act of faith (bravery/stupidity) completely turns the war around, they kill 20 men in the outpost which sends fear into the Philistine camp, so much so that the Philistines start killing each other. It goes on to say that when the Israelites found out about this they climbed out of their caves and toilets (cisterns) and chased after them and plundered them.
What I see is that 2 people with a little bit of faith can stir up the faith of a whole nation. Are we defeated, hiding out until the end or do we want to step out there a little knowing that the Lord can act on our behalf.