And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifce, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
Saul just couldn't get it right, could he? I wonder why he had such trouble hearing everything God said to him. In 1 Samuel 15, we see the last straw for God regarding Saul and his kingdom reign. Saul had been told to destroy the Amalekites entirely, including women, children, and all livestock. However, Saul chose to partially obey, which is actually disobedience, and take the spoil of the land (1 Sam 15:9). What intrigues me about the whole story is that when Saul was asked by Samuel why he didn't obey God, he said that he did but that the people didn't.
And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. (1 Samuel 15:20-21)
Notice something with me here. First of all, Saul was the leader, the King, yet blamed his disobedience upon his people. Another thing that interested me was that in the last sentence of the verse above, Saul used the phrase "the LORD thy God". Was not God his God too and not just Samuel's? Does this reflect the innermost thoughts of Saul's heart? Was God really Saul's god?
God wants our obedience to Him more than any sacrifice we can give him to make up for our impure actions. Samuel knew this as he spoke to Saul. Saul did not seek the mind of God completely as he kept trying to insert his own strength and ideas into God's work. I think that Saul was really worshipping himself. He tried to lie to God, but God saw through it and soon thereafter rejected him from being king of Israel (1 Sam 15:26). This story is sad to me that such talent was wasted by an impure heart.
The important thing to remember here is that God doesn't want our perfection, He just wants us to obey Him wholeheartedly. Yes, obedience is harder than our sacrifices - our good works for God - but it is what God wants, so it is this that we must give Him first.
Questions for reflection:
1) What areas in my life am I partially obeying God?
2) Am I trying to appease God for my disobedience by doing more good things for Him?
Janna Rust is a Life Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them. For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.