To Obey Is Better than Sacrifice – Meditation 1

CONTEXT: In 1 Samuel 15 the prophet Samuel gives Saul explicit commands from the LORD of hosts to bring judgment on the Amalekites as a recompense for their treatment of Israel when the nation was coming up from Egypt. Saul is told to “strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him, but put to death” everything (15:3). The command could not be clearer, yet Saul does not carry out the command. Instead he saves some of the sheep for sacrifices and spares Agag the king of Amalek.

This will be a brief series of blogs on this chapter and on what we can learn from the negative example of Saul.

“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”

The first thing that we notice is how Saul viewed the word of the LORD. When the LORD of hosts speaks through His Word, He demands that His Word be obeyed completely. Thus when Samuel speaks to Saul the word of the LORD of hosts, Saul should pay close attention and orient his life to obey what he hears. But Saul did not carefully heed the word of the LORD. Instead he explicitly and knowingly disobeyed. The main reason was that Saul was casual about the word of the LORD. He believed that, as long as he came close to what the LORD had commanded, he was okay. Surely the LORD would be satisfied with a token effort at obedience. But notice that his approximate obedience is declared to be “evil in the sight of the LORD (15:19)” and Saul is seen as having “rejected the word of the LORD (15:26).” It is rebellion and insubordination (15:23) to not listen to the voice of the LORD and to not then orient your life to obey His commands. The word of the LORD is to be obeyed precisely and fully and intentionally. Unlike Saul, the disciple of Jesus is deadly serious about the word of God and seeks to obey it fully. Caleb is a good model for us, because Caleb “followed the LORD God fully (Joshua 14:8,9,14).” Jesus is the perfect example, who always did what was pleasing to the Father (John 8:29) and who fulfilled the whole Law (Matthew 5:17).

Let’s make it our aim to know the Word and then to heed the Word fully and precisely.

SDG  rmb 8/20/2016

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