But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. – 1Sam. 15:22 NIV.
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Prophet Samuel had called on King Saul to inform him of God’s decision to avenge the Amalekites for what they did to the Israelites on their way from Egypt to the promise land – 1Sam. 15:2. A significant point of note was the opening verse of this chapter where Samuel took time to remind King Saul that, he it was that was sent to anoint him king – 1Sam. 15:1. This immediately throws up the suspicion that he must have noticed some arrogance creeping into King Saul and he needed to remind him of his beginning but like most people reading same lines today, the significance of the statement was not obvious to Saul as he was already so drunk with power that he did not notice this unusual tone in Samuel’s communication. The statement was more like “calm down and listen to me, I at least was the one that announced your inauguration so if only for the fact that I knew you before you became king, then just listen to these instructions from that same God”.
With this opening statement from Samuel, anyone would expect that Saul’s attention will be drawn to all that Samuel had to say including the guidelines and the other instructions around the mission ahead. God’s instruction through Samuel was very clear which was: Attack the Amalekites, totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them and in order to clear any ambiguity, put to death men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys. The instructions could not be clearer than this.
Saul indeed went to the war as directed by God (1Sam. 15:4-9) and decided to have the instruction adjusted at his sole discretion. He destroyed all but spared King Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and the lambs and everything that was good for reasons best known to him. This action like most cases of disobedience grieved the Lord who reported Saul to Samuel, after all he it was that he had related with before making Saul king – 1Sam. 15:10. As far as God was concerned, he interpreted Saul’s action to mean that Saul had turned away from Him by not carrying out His instructions.
Samuel did all he could interceding for Saul all through the night but very early the next morning, he was on his way to see Saul only to discover that not only was God right but he had actually turned Carmel, a sacred mount for prayers to God by the people, to a place of honour for himself by setting up his image at that location – 1Sam. 15:11-12. This was Saul not only setting up an image contrary to the instructions of God but also leading the people into idolatry – Ex. 20:3-7.
On finally meeting with Saul at Gilgal, Saul was quick to let Samuel know that he had carried out God’s instruction – 1Sam. 15:13. It definitely could not mean that Saul lost memory of what he did and if he was deceiving the people, how did he think he could deceive God through His messenger whom He had always related with or was it not clear to him (Saul) that God will relate what happened to Samuel? Samuel deciding to play along with him then asked him where the bleating sound of sheep and lowing sound of cattle was coming from but instead of Saul accepting that he had been found out and to quickly repent, he continued in his belief that he could outsmart Samuel by letting him know that they were brought by the soldiers for the purpose of sacrifice to someone he presented as “the Lord your God” – 1Sam. 15:15. It is anyone’s guess that he probably felt he could further get Samuel deceived by bribing him with sheep and cattle after all it is very clear that as the chief priest, all those animals will end up with him if they are to be used for sacrifice.
It was now the turn of Samuel who had been pleading earlier with the Lord on Saul’s behalf to get angry. In a manner that indicated complete disregard for the king, he practically shouted on him to stop and listen to what God had related to him about him (Saul) all through the night – 1Sam. 15:16. Samuel told Saul how God had recalled to him the initial humility that was in Saul when he was made king. God also recalled how he gave clear instructions to Saul concerning the last mission he went for and concluded that all that Saul did by disobeying Him (God) was considered evil by Him (God) – 1Sam. 15: 17-19. One could immediately confirm the new arrogant personality in Saul, when he argued with Samuel nay God that he implemented God’s instructions to the letter – 1Sam. 15:20-21. It was either God was lying to smear his character or God did not confirm His facts before relaying them after all it was the soldiers that took those animals and it was to sacrifice them to this same God so he had no issue in all that Samuel was saying?
Samuel’s response is the scripture for todays Ministration (1Sam. 15:22-23) and is as follows:
1. God does not delight in burnt offering and sacrifices.
2. God prefers obedience.
3. Disobedience is rebellion and it is, to God like act of divination (sorcery).
4. Disobedience is also arrogance which also to God is rated as idolatry.
He then relayed God’s decision which was that, he had been rejected because he rejected the Word of the Lord. May we not be rejected in Jesus name. Amen.
Most Christians today have actually learnt nothing from the case of King Saul in the way they constantly flout God’s instructions. God’s instructions are His words and all He expects us to do at all times after confirming them to be His Words is to diligently hearken to them (Deut. 28:1) because as we have been informed severally in the scriptures, he honours His words more than His name – Ps. 138:2. With God, to adhere fully to His instructions means obedience and to not follow it or follow it partly means disobedience to Him. This has been the crux of the problem in God’s relationship with man. Right from the time of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, It has always been the case of disobedience to God’s instructions that brings separation. There will never be a time that God will allow His instructions to be disregarded in whatever way without a corresponding penalty meted out to the offender.
Prophet Samuel said God sees disobedience from two perspectives:
1. God sees disobedience as rebellion. Really that is what it is because unless the individual is deaf or lacks proper understanding, both of which are not sufficient excuse with the Lord anyway, it is obvious that a disobedient person must have properly processed that decision to act contrary to God’s instruction. There is no other word to describe that action than rebellion. God goes further to say that he sees rebellion in the same way He sees witchcraft, an act for which God prescribes death – Ex. 22:18. He still has not changed His mind on this punishment. It is just that a disobedient person may not die physically but will live a life of a living dead. The implementation of this punishment can be seen in the way He implemented it in the case of Adam and Eve. He had told them they will die if they disobeyed Him and the result of the death is the suffering in various dimensions that has been introduced into the world since then. Sin is simply disobedience to God’s instructions and the book of Romans also confirms that the wages of sin is death – Rom. 6:23. Many will be living dead for as long as they remain in disobedience. May that not be our portion in Jesus name. Amen.
2. God sees disobedience as arrogance. Again that really is what it is. To be arrogant is to have or reveal an exaggerated sense or feeling of self worth or superiority. In the case of disobedience to God’s instructions, it is a feeling of having a better understanding of a situation than the Almighty God or why will someone choose to ignore His instructions and implement another irrespective of the source of the instruction.
In the case of Saul, his arrogance makes him feel that God does not know some things which are apparent to him (Saul) some of which are that
a. Sacrifices will be done to Him and the people (not him anyway) will need it for that purpose or where does God expect them to get the animals for that sacrifice he wants from. What he however does not realise is that preparing for sacrifice as far as God is concerned is preparing for sin. God will rather have people prepare for a life without sin than a life of offering sacrifice for sin. David in Psalm 51: 16-17 confirms this adding that God prefers the sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart. It will further aggravate the anger of God when all men do is to keep preparing for sacrifice for sin.
b. It should be obvious to God that the blood of a king is more precious than the blood of commoners and so should not be shed just like that which is probably why he saved the life of King Agag.
To disobey God’s instructions is an attempt to let Him know that He is not as infallible as He tries to claim as there are errors in those instructions that need perfecting and you intend to go with the corrections as seen by you. It is an attempt at questioning His sovereignty over all issues. All these attempts will remain a failure from the beginning as it is about pure arrogance on the part of the disobedient and he compares such act to idolatry. It is idolatry because suddenly there is now an authority different from the Almighty God that is in fact higher than God and in relation to today’s scripture, that authority is King Saul himself which is probably why he made a monument for himself in Carmel of all places, a holy place where people go to worship and was probably going to Gilgal, another historical place with great spiritual significance, to erect another monument to his (Saul) glorification. God’s punishment for idolatry is as found in Deuteronomy 4: 25-31. It is rapid destruction as God does not condone competition.
The fact is that disobedience is a quiet way of asserting independence and unless the individual is deaf or lacks understanding, declaration of independence from God by anybody is a signal of an intention to commit spiritual suicide. It is a question of time before the person becomes a living dead.
Disobedience angers and grieves the Lord and the implication of it is usually loss of Grace. Just as it made Adam and Eve lose the comfort in the Garden of Eden, it stopped Moses from entering the promised land and it made Saul lose his special position with the Lord. He remained in position of king before men but lost recognition and support from the Lord from the moment God marked his sin of disobedience. Samuel informed Saul that he had been rejected by the Lord. May we not be rejected in Jesus name – Amen. To be rejected by the Lord is a great misfortune. The rejection may be temporary to serve as tool of bringing a sinner back to repentance. David was rejected but he quickly pleaded for mercy and was restored – Ps. 51:11. Jesus Christ experienced rejection, not because of his transgressions but as a way of making advance payment for our transgressions – Matt. 27:46. Nebuchadnezzar was rejected for a period but in that rejection he called on the Lord, retraced his steps and was restored – Dan. 4: 28-37. The Psalmist wrote that he called upon the Lord in distress and the Lord answered him in a large place – Ps. 118:5. God is willing to restore when there is genuine repentance but in the absence of repentance like the case of King Saul, the rejection remains permanent. Whereas a sober person will be pleading with the Lord after Samuel had revealed all that Saul thought he was hiding, the opposite was the case with Saul as He went into the debate mode with the Lord. He was not ready to concede this situation to the Lord after all, he is King Saul.
What is your own position about that act of disobedience that God reminded you of during this Ministration. Do you too, like Saul have a point to make for God to see that you are right and He is wrong? That is not the right way to go. Saul probably thought he was debating with Samuel, an ordinary subject and at best a prophet, the person that anointed him as king and that is where it ends but he was wrong. He was by arguing with Samuel was arguing with God just as happened before he was made a king – 1Sam. 8:1-9. Do not harden your heart as you hear him through this Ministration – Heb. 3:15. Be sober for your disobedience and plead with him for forgiveness and like Nebuchadnezzar, you will be restored in Jesus name. Amen. May God grant you the Holy Spirit to convince and convict you of your act of disobedience, guide you into repentance so you can receive restoration in Jesus name. Amen.