November 4, 2021
Scripture: And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23 ESV
Observation: Much of Saul’s disobedience seemed like minor infractions. Often, he obeyed the Lord in part. In particular, the events leading up to Samuel’s rebuke of Saul centered around not entirely devoting Israel’s enemy and their worldly possessions to consecrated destruction. He also took matters into his own hands regarding offering a sacrifice to the Lord to curry favor before a battle (a holy ceremony that only Samuel, the Lord’s priest, should have performed).
Takeaway: Listening and obeying, Saul repeatedly failed on both accounts. Instead, he presumed he knew best—not fully adhering to the Lord’s commands spoken through Samuel. Consequently, God rejected Saul and his heirs’ position of kingship. Samuel also adds that rebellion and presumption are the roots of divination and idolatry. In other words, when we take matters into our own hands, when we think we know best, we are setting ourselves up as gods of our world. Thankfully, the Lord’s grace abounds, and there is always an opportunity for forgiveness and restoration. Saul’s successor, David, would commit atrocious sins of adultery and murder. Yet, the Lord referred to him as a man after his own heart. The difference from Saul? Godly sorrow and repentance. Unfortunately for Saul, there was no true repentance and a bitter life end.
Prayer: Father God, by the sanctifying work of your Holy Spirit, please continue to teach us to listen and obey you wholeheartedly. And please bring us to godly sorrow and repentance when we choose otherwise. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling