I Samuel 15:1-16:23; John 8:1-20; Psalm 110:1-7; Proverbs 15:8-10
The theme of obedience to the Lord runs through our passage today in I Samuel. King Saul—not a patient man, not a discerning man, not a man who self-examines—declares that he has obeyed the Lord when the evidence is clear that he hasn’t. Samuel, speaking for God, had instructed him to completely destroy the Amalekites, including men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys (I Sam. 15:3). But Saul “spared the best of the sheep and the cattle” and then declared to Samuel that he has “carried out the Lord’s instructions” (I Sam. 15:13).
Samuel’s next words cut to the heart of the matter—no, Saul, you haven’t obeyed the Lord. “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Samuel asks in I Samuel 15:14.
And aren’t we so like Saul? Yes, we’re like Saul though we long to be like Samuel who boldly addresses wrong when he encounters it, even in the king of Israel. Samuel doesn’t hesitate to call a wrong a wrong!
But Saul, like us, tries to make the sin seem not so bad—I did obey the Lord, he says (vs. 20). Then he declares that the stolen sheep and cattle are for sacrifices to the Lord (vs. 21), after first blaming the whole thing on his soldiers in verse 15, “The soldiers...spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we completely destroyed the rest.”
Saul wanted to obey God in his own way, and then to declare that way was right. He was following the lead of Adam and Eve who chose to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they wanted to (Gen. 3:6-7). They wanted to obey God, but just not enough to do it fully.
And how do I obey God? He asks me for full obedience—to call right what He calls right, to defend the weak and powerless, to give generously to His work around the world and in my local church, to speak the truth of the gospel to those all around me who don’t know him.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).
Lord, may I choose this day to obey you fully. You detest the sacrifice of the wicked but the prayer of the upright pleases You (Pr. 15:8). I am upright only because of the blood of Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Give me the courage of Samuel to address the wrongs around me. Give me insight into my own weaknesses and faults. Help me not to be blinded to my sin.
May my prayer please You as I seek to obey You fully. Amen.
- Nell Sunukjian
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