Bible Society of South Africa
Carina Francke

Relationships – Day 19

The Lord and I: Precise obedience (2)

Bible text(s)

12So I thought, ‘The Philistines are going to attack me here in Gilgal, and I have not tried to win the LORD's favour.’ So I felt I had to offer a sacrifice.”

1 Samuel 13:12GNBOpen in Bible reader

14But now your rule will not continue. Because you have disobeyed him, the LORD will find the kind of man he wants and make him ruler of his people.”

1 Samuel 13:14GNBOpen in Bible reader

22Samuel said, “Which does the LORD prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him. 23Rebellion against him is as bad as witchcraft, and arrogance is as sinful as idolatry. Because you rejected the LORD's command, he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23GNBOpen in Bible reader

Obedience touches the Lord’s heart; it pleases Him; it gives Him joy. “… a man (or woman) after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) are people who do His will. Obedience of His children takes priority: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

King Saul could not obey God’s instructions. In 1 Samuel 13, the Philistines are ready for battle, but Saul had to wait for the prophet Samuel, God’s mouthpiece, to give him his orders and to seek the Lord’s favour by burnt and fellowship offerings (1 Samuel 10:8). When Saul saw the overwhelming force of the heavily armed Philistine army, the fearful and deserting Hebrew soldiers and Samuel, who did not arrive yet, he disobeyed: “So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering” (1 Samuel 13:12). Fear of people, circumstances and time passing by, sank his obedience. He took a short cut.

A big mistake! Samuel arrived. To wait is very often a test for one’s faith and character — the unshakable faith that He who gives the orders, will come through for you, and that you will have to set aside your “self”. Saul failed the test and he had to bear the consequences: It cost him his kingship — even though it only happened later in his life. After all, “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart”, an obedient person (1 Samuel 13:14).

Saul’s second instruction from the Lord was to destroy the Amalekites, as well as everything they owned. Again, Saul did not obey precisely — he spared the life of the Amalekite king, as well as some of the best and second-best livestock. God’s response to this: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions” (1 Samuel 15:11). Saul knew better, or so he assumed.

Saul acted as we usually do. He excused himself and blamed his men — it was their desire to bring offerings to the Lord. His own will and fear of people yet again became the cause of his disobedience to the Lord (1 Samuel15:24). Samuel distinguished Saul’s disobedience and unwillingness to admit to his guilt, rebellion and arrogance as: “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23).

You and I must not allow that our fear of people, wilfulness, pride, or rebellion stand in the way to do precisely what the Lord says. When the Word and the Holy Spirit address a lifestyle habit, we need to obey because He has every minute of our today and tomorrow in mind when He gives us instructions. Our disobedience because of assertiveness only takes us on a path far away from Him.

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