Saul gave God a deadline! He didn't declare it, but in his heart Saul decided that if a word from above didn't come by a certain time, he would do whatever was needed to save the situation.
"And [Saul] waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, ‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me. And he offered the burnt offering" (1 Samuel 13:8-9).
Impatiently, Saul moved ahead, sinfully acting as a priest to make the sacrifice. Little did he know that Samuel was just around the bend. When the prophet arrived, he smelled the sacrifice Saul had offered and became incensed at the king's sinful impatience.
I am convinced Samuel was delayed because God clearly told him exactly when to arrive. You see, this was a test to see whether Saul would believe that God could be trusted.
God orchestrated it all because he wanted to give Saul a testimony of humble dependence on him in all things, especially in a dark crisis. But Saul failed the test. He looked at the worsening conditions and decided that something had to be done.
Can you picture yourself in Saul's situation? I hear him reasoning to himself, “I can't take this indecision any longer. God sent me to do his work and I'm willing to die for his cause. But do I really have to sit here doing nothing? If I don't act, everything will spin out of control.” Saul felt a gripping need to act immediately in the situation. And finally his impatience overwhelmed him.
This is where we fail at times in our walk with the Lord. At certain times, we have not waited for direction and have taken matters into our own hands because we do not like feeling uncertain and anxious. But the Lord is looking for total dependency. That means trusting him fully to do the right thing in the right way on our behalf. And it means patiently waiting on him not with anxiety but in a spirit of rest.