Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-16:23, John 8:1-20, Psalm 110:1-7, Proverbs 15:8-10
The story of Saul is one of the saddest in the Bible. His fall from power began to unfold very early during his reign and was pronounced by Samuel in today’s readings. Samuel gave Saul very clear instructions from the Lord in I Samuel 15.
One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy[a] the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”
Following these instructions, Saul knew exactly what God expected him to do. Yet he had a better idea. He decided to save the king and also the best of the livestock to make a sacrifice to God. On the way to making the sacrifice, he first built a monument to himself in Carmel. He justified his disobedience by promising himself he would complete a sacrifice, but the monument indicated that he was focused first on bringing glory to himself.
Then Samuel provided clear insight into God’s nature.
22 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.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
God desires wholehearted obedience from His followers. He rejected Saul because he “refused to obey My command.” Saul’s claim that he did obey is sad but also instructive. How often have I gone halfway toward doing what God wanted me to do WHEN I KNEW EXACTLY WHAT GOD WANTED. Regrettably, more often that I would like to admit.
Let’s see how today goes. The Holy Spirit is with us to guide us into all truth. I will ask the Holy Spirit today to show me when I have been only half-obedient to the part of God’s instructions that make sense to me.