As we’ve already learned, Saul was starting to let his pride get in the way of putting God first. He was far more interested in getting the credit than giving it. Today’s chapter in Samuel was about the final straw for king Saul. Samuel gave Saul a message from the Lord, it was to completely wipe out the Amalekites, sparing nothing. That seems intense right? But our application tells us why God asked Saul to lead such a great attack. It says, “The Amalekites were a band of guerilla terrorists. They lived by attacking other nations and carrying off their wealth and families. They were the first to attack the Israelites as they entered the promised land, and they continued to raid Israelite camps at every opportunity. God knew that the Israelites could never live peacefully in the promised land as long as the Amalekites existed.” The Lord was protecting His people through this attack, but Saul disobeys. He goes in and attacks, but spares Agag, their king by taking him captive, as well as the best of their sheep, cattle, calves and lambs. Saul was so proud of himself that he built a monument after the attack to honor himself. Really, Saul?!
So, the Lord comes to Samuel and tells Him that Saul has disobeyed, Samuel goes to meet him, and of course, Saul tries to justify what he did and make excuses for not completely destroying everything and sparing what he did. He tells Samuel he was going to use the animals for offerings to God. But, it was too late. Samuel goes on to tell him today’s verse in full, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23 At this time in the Bible, offerings and sacrifices were a way to honor God, “but if the persons heart was not truly repentant or if he did not truly love God, the sacrifice was a hollow ritual. Religious ceremonies or rituals are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. ‘Being religious’ (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.” (Application) Obviously, Saul’s heart was not right and even if he went on to sacrifice those animals, it would have been seen as worthless to God, it wouldn’t have been out of a pure heart and obedience. Our biggest takeaway from this scripture is that being obedient is important to God. But, how do we do it? I believe that in order to obey, we need to hear what we are to do first. This means that we need to be in constant connection with God, so that we can hear from Him, and in turn, we can obey. To be in this constant connection means doing what you are doing right now, being in His word, learning what His word means, then praying and giving him praise and worship. Why is this connection that leads to obedience so important? Have you ever been in a season where you were disconnected from Him? Maybe it’s right now. I think when we are out of connection, our flesh, our sinful desires, more easily creep in. In the times in my life where I have felt so disconnected from God, not only was I not at my best, but it also kept getting easier to stay out of connection. Have you been there? Doesn’t it feel like this is where our world/culture is right now, that we’ve gotten so disconnected from seeking God that it just keeps going further away from Him and those “rituals” have started to become a check mark off the to do list, not an act of obedience. But, that is truly what fuels these devotions, because to me what that means is that it is SO important to be in His Word, to be in constant connection, so that we can hear from Him and act in obedience.
What is a way that you can act in obedience today? Maybe it’s simply praying for the first time in a long time to take a step back towards Him. Or maybe it’s an apology to someone in your life that you’ve been struggling with. Or possibly it’s something bigger for you, like choosing today to act on the nudges He’s been putting on your heart and take a next step. Write it down and then set a plan for how you will move forward. Is there an area in your life right now where you have been disobedient and need to repent? Tell God now and that you long to be in communication with him to get back on track.
Heavenly Father, we hear what it is that you have for us by putting this story of king Saul into your Word. He showed us how easily it can be to let pride and arrogance take over. Please help us to recognize when we are starting to be prideful and remind us that all our abilities and blessings are a gift from you and that you deserve the credit. We know you desire our obedience, Lord, help us to see ways each and every day that we can be in obedience to you, that we aren’t just being religious, but acting in devotion. We want to do your will and obey, guide us in the direction you desire and open our eyes to see and ears to hear you as we go about our days. In your merciful name we pray, Amen!