Saul offers a burnt offering without priesthood authority to do so. The Lord rejects him and chooses another captain over His people.
1 Samuel 13:1–14
1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Beth-el, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven.
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
8 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.
9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
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;
12 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.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
“[Two years after he was anointed king,] . . . a . . . great . . . problem faced [Saul]—the Philistines, who had a terrible army with chariots and horsemen ‘and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude’ (1 Samuel 13:5). The Israelites were so terrified of the Philistines that they hid ‘themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks’ (1 Samuel 13:6).
“The young king needed help. The prophet Samuel sent word for him to wait and that he, the prophet, would come and offer sacrifice and seek counsel from the Lord. Saul waited seven days, and still the prophet Samuel had not arrived. Finally, Saul felt he could wait no longer. He gathered the people together and did something he had no priesthood authority to do—he offered the sacrifice himself.
“When Samuel arrived, he was brokenhearted. ‘Thou hast done foolishly,’ he said. If only the new king had endured a little longer and not deviated from the course of the Lord, if only he had followed the revealed order of the priesthood, the Lord would have established his kingdom forever. ‘But now,’ Samuel said, ‘thy kingdom shall not continue’ (1 Samuel 13:13–14).
“On that day, the prophet Samuel recognized a critical weakness in Saul’s character. When pressured by outside influences, Saul did not have the self-discipline to stay on course, trust the Lord and His prophet, and follow the pattern God had established.”
(“A Matter of a Few Degrees,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 58.)