Saul’s life offers some priceless insights about obedience or lack thereof. God’s command to him was clear: “Go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation – men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:3).
Did Saul do as he was told? Nope. He captured the Amalekite king and allowed his army to keep the best of the sheep and cattle – everything, in fact, that appealed to them (v. 9). He must have skipped class on the day his teachers explained the definition of obedience, because his understanding obviously lacked. When Samuel asked him why he didn’t obey the Lord’s command, Saul answered, “But I did obey the Lord. 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 and cattle and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal” (v. 20-21).
Saul failed to connect the dots between God’s Word and his behavior, and God held him accountable. Samuel pronounced the verdict: “Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you from being the king of Israel” (v. 26). Ouch!
A couple of thoughts from these verses:
- It’s possible to convince ourselves that we’re walking in obedience when in reality, we’re far from it. Others might recognize our shortcoming but we’re blinded. If a godly person tries to warn us, we’d best listen.
- God desires complete obedience. (v. 22 – “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice.”) Halfway obedience simply doesn’t cut it.
- God holds us accountable for lack of obedience. There are consequences when we refuse to listen to His voice.
Why is obeying God’s Word so important? Because of who He is. Psalm 11:7,8 say: “All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy. They are forever true, to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.”
God’s commands are good and fully reliable because He is good and faithful. They’re given for our protection, to enable us to live life as He intended. Failure to obey hurts us and affects those around us.
Whether or not we obey what He tells us to do is our choice, but we need to choose well. When we do, we will receive a reward: “The rewards of wisdom come to all who obey him” (v. 10). How different from paying negative consequences as Saul did when he disobeyed!
Here are a couple of questions for you: What do you think is the biggest hindrance to our obeying God’s Word? In what area of life do you struggle with giving God complete obedience?