A Lesson in Obeying

By Ben Winslett

Obedience to God, I believe, is a goal of each church member. We strive to do those things that are right, many times realizing our own failures and shortcomings. Often times when obeying the Lord seems difficult, or inconvenient, we often become discouraged or even lax. Sometimes we do part of our duty, until we find something more convenient along the way. I find a similar occurance in the scripture, in 1 Samuel 15.

In this chapter, Samuel has just annointed Saul king over Israel. The Lord instructs Saul to “go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” This is no small task, Saul was to completely wipe this people from the earth for attacking Israel after they had came out of Egypt (Exodus 17). Saul gathers a military for battle, and goes to attack Amalek. Saul destroys all the people in Amalek, but takes Agag, the king of Amalek prisoner. Saul and his people also took the best of Amalek’s sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and everything else that was good back with them.

What did Saul do wrong? He did only what part of God’s instruction he agreed with. His human greed for the goods of Amalek got the best of him and his people. Instead of destroying every living thing there, he killed everything that was vile, and kept the spoil. He also kept Agag the king as his trophy. Many in todays world would probably say “Saul did enough, he did the best he could.” I am sure that appeased Israel, but not the Lord.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments…” 1 Samuel 15:10-11

The Lord gave Saul an order, and Saul obeyed only the part that was popular, or convenient.

When Samuel brings this to Saul’s attention, he insists he DID follow the Lords instruction. Not only did Saul disobey, he had convinced himself in the process that he had served the Lord. He even went as far to say the spoil brought back was to sacrifice to the Lord. Does this remind us of ourselves?

Notice Samuels reply: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

Saul was now rejected as king. (verse 23)

The lesson I learned from this chapter, is that it is far better to obey the commandments given in God’s word in our daily lives, than to put on a show in the name of religion, with our greed and lusts secretly at the heart of the matter. It would have been easier in the long run, to destroy all that the Lord commanded! May we learn from Saul’s mistake, and obey completely

Ben Winslett

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