The concern of the storyteller is not with military operations as such, even though the passage is packed with fascinating detail on terrain and troop movements. The way the story is told guarantees that we will recognize that acts of faith take place in the so-called “real world”—a world of named towns, of strategic troop deployments, of military statistics, of probabilities and “odds.” This is the setting for understanding faith and obedience. Saul believes or disbelieves, is obedient or disobedient to God, trusts or mistrusts God in his daily work as a military leader, not abstracted from it. As it turns out, his is unbelievingly disobedient.
Eugene Peterson, First and Second Samuel, Westminster Bible Companion