Bible Society of South Africa

Absolutely Alive: Clothed in obedience? - 9 July 2024

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

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.

1 Samuel 15:22GNBOpen in Bible reader

Don’t we all love a braai? Getting together to enjoy a meal of tasty meat, hot off the fire, accompanied by traditional side dishes, is something most South Africans thrive on. Had King Saul really had something like that in mind – a Peace Offering – when, disregarding God’s instructions about attacking the Amalekites, he’d kept alive King Agag and the best of the livestock and destroyed everything else.

In our verse today, after confronting Saul, Samuel is making his pronouncement on his feeble, even delusional, excuses firstly blaming his men, then speaking misleadingly about sacrificing an offering – which he obtained through disobedience!

Samuel, who’d been very troubled when God said, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions”, and “cried out to the LORD all that night” (1 Samuel 15:11, NIV) recognised that Saul chose to save his pride rather than admit his disobedience to God by telling the truth.

When Israel had rejected God’s rule and called for a king, Saul had been chosen by lot, anointed by Samuel, and “God changed [his] heart” (1 Samuel 10:9, NIV) and blessed him to, “do whatever [his] hands found to do”. (1 Samuel 10:7, NIV)

But with Saul’s power grew his pride in his own prowess, and he turned from God. His height, striking looks, and even God’s call became a stumbling block, leading him to make decisions that disregarded God’s commands, prioritising his strategies and judgements over God’s. (1 Samuel 13:9) When, instead of honouring God, he erected a monument to himself, claiming the glory for what God had done through him, the true state of his heart emerged.

Obedience is not easy, at any age; whether two or 62, we’re usually immersed in our own will and don’t like having to put it aside for rules and laws, to submit to authority. However, we know that God expects obedience from his people in our relationship with him which leads to good civil order and a sound society for the protection and well-being of all.

When we turn away from God, we always put someone or something in his place, which is idolatry. In Saul’s case his monument honouring himself was visible, but how many times is the idol that takes God’s place hidden?

Like Saul, do we also become so captivated with ourselves in the life that God has given us that we forget from where we came, and allow our pride to flourish as we disregard his call to obedience? Or are we living in humility and gratitude to God for the abundant life we enjoy daily, accountable to Christ, and living close to him?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you” (Luke 6:46) and “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28) Help me to keep your word always. Amen

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