“Stop!” (I Samuel 15:16a, NLT), Samuel told Saul. Samuel didn’t want to hear any more of Saul’s excuses for disobeying Jehovah. Saul, however, wasn’t finished dishing them out.
“‘But I did obey the Lord,’ Saul insisted. ‘I carried out the mission He gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal” (I Samuel 15:20-21).
Look again at Saul’s blame-throwing. While he does own up to sparing Agag’s life, he adds, “I destroyed everyone else.” As for the livestock, his troops did it, but only for the purpose of presenting them as sacrifices to the Lord.
“But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (I Samuel 15:22).
“Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” People, we can heap the collection plate full of tithes and offerings, but if we aren’t living in obedience to the Word of the Lord, we’re in rebellion. And there isn’t one drop of our contributions that will score us any points with the Savior. Obedience and submission are the keys. Disobeying in any respect is never to be taken lightly.
“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols” (I Samuel 15:23a).
“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft.” What exactly is rebellion? Disobedience. Doing what God says not to do or refusing to do what He says you should do. Rebellion isn’t necessarily an obvious act like robbing a bank or stepping on kittens. It can be as subtle as ignoring that gentle Holy Spirit nudge to pick up the phone and call a lonely neighbor. Or that whisper that says, “Turn off the TV and spend some time reading the Bible.”
And note this, folks: rebellion always begins with the little things. And if we don’t do as Barney Fife and “nip it in the bud,” that bud will blossom into something bigger. Once we accustom ourselves to ignoring a simple thing that we know the Lord is quietly urging us to do – or maybe even stop doing – it becomes easier to tune out more and more of His voice. And that, my friends, is where stubbornness comes into the picture.
Samuel called “stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” When we determine in our spirits not to budge on an issue, we’re shutting our spiritual ears to the voice of the Savior. That’s what Saul chose to do and why Samuel had to hammer home the seriousness of what Saul considered partial obedience to Jehovah.
“Because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king” (I Samuel 15:23b).
Saul just didn’t seem to get it. Being chosen by God didn’t give him the right to live as he pleased; instead, it gave him the responsibility of being fully obedient to everything God commanded.
Are the light bulbs coming on? If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have been chosen by God and that, my dear brother or sister, means that you have the responsibility of being fully obedient to God’s commands. You have the indwelling Holy Spirit telling you every time you’re about to mess up. Don’t tune Him out; tune Him in.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates