Millions of Christians today worship God, but fail to obey Him. Which does God prefer?
I encourage you to read 1 Samuel 15 first before continuing. By doing so, it will provide a better overall picture.
“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
The time had come for the Amalekites to be judged. Therefore, God had given direct orders to Saul through Samuel to destroy ALL of the Amalekites, including men, women, children, infants, cattle and sheep.
A good soldier knows that you don’t question orders, you just obey them.
Children will question the orders of their parents (Why? Why? Why?), but most of the time, they don’t need to know.
It doesn’t matter why the order is given. What does matter is that we have been given our orders and we are to obey the order exactly as given. God wants our obedience.
“Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.” When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
Obviously, Saul did not do as he was told. He definitely disobeyed orders. Not only that, he “set up a monument for his own honor.”
What did God say to do? Look again at verse three (3). God said to destroy ALL of the Amalekites, including their four-legged property.
Saul had a better idea though. He would bring back the best from the Amalekites for a “chilling, singing, shouting, warm-all-over, fuzzy feeling worship service. Praise the Lord!”
That being the case, God must have told Saul, “Why Saul, that’s a much better idea than mine, and it’s more humane too. I like your idea. Please worship Me and have a good old heart-felt, singing and shouting, fellowship. Turn up the music!”
We will see that is not what God said.
“Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
Oops. What just happened? Samuel just told Saul he disobeyed the Lord, pounced on the plunder and did evil in the Lord’s eyes. All was going so well. What happened?
Saul was probably thinking, “I don’t get it. I stayed up all night thinking of a way I could provide great sacrifices to You in our worship service. Surely, you’re not upset over the monument to me. I AM the king you know.”
“But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
Isn’t that what I just said that Saul was probably thinking? Guess what? God isn’t buying it.
How can he possibly say that he obeyed God?! He even brings back Agag, the Amalekite king. This Saul is an ego-centered, obstinate narcissist, just like many today.
“But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
“To obey is better than sacrifice.” “To heed is better than the fat of rams.” God wants no part of our worship if it excludes our obedience and heeding His Word.
How serious is God about obeying Him? Saul just lost his kingly crown because he refused to obey God. (So much for your monument Saul.) Also, recall that Moses was denied entrance to the Promised Land because he disobeyed God.
“Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”
At this point Saul reminds me of Aaron, “They made me do it.” Yeah right! Now he is lying through his teeth.
Saul says he sinned and violated the Lord’s command. Notice that he added “your instructions.” Sounds to me like he is trying to blame this whole incident on Samuel.
Get this. He still wants to go back and worship! He just doesn’t get it, that to obey God is better than sacrifice!
“Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.”
All the way down here in verse thirty (30), he is still whining to Samuel that he wants to worship. He STILL doesn’t get it.
Did you notice that Saul was previously saying, “so that I may worship the Lord?” Notice in this verse that Saul changes that to, “so that I may worship the Lord your God.” Did you get that? Now he is saying “YOUR God (emphasis mine).” Obviously, Saul has always worshiped Saul and not God. No wonder he “set up a monument for his own honor.”
Whether his god was Saul or God the fact remains he did not obey God.
Isn’t that like a lot of us today, if not most of us? How many go to church on Sunday thinking they’re appeasing God, and don’t give Him another thought until next Sunday? He doesn’t want appeasement. He wants us to heed Him every day and obey Him every day. If we can’t do that, then forget worship. Why? Because it means nothing without obedience.
That’s right. What good is any worship we may present to God, if we do not obey Him? Regardless of where, when or how we worship, it means absolutely nothing if we do not obey the one we direct our worship to; i.e. God. Please recall what God said through Samuel in verse 22.
“But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
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