Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 84/260: Samuel

Read 1 Samuel 15

To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

“God knows my heart.” How many times is that offered as an excuse for rebellion? Yes, God does know your heart, and if you are disobeying Him, that fact should terrify you! For one who knows what God has said to then do the opposite is the height of folly.

Saul was ordered to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites: “But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (1 Samuel 15:3). What did Saul and his army do? Did they obey God? “But Saul and the peoples spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed” (1 Samuel 15:9).

Did Saul think that he had obeyed the Lord’s command? He told Saul, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:13). His words were betrayed by the “bleating of the sheep” and “the lowing of the oxen” that Samuel heard (1 Samuel 15:14). Saul quickly rationalized his disobedience by blaming the people, explaining that the animals were spared “to sacrifice to the Lord your God” (1 Samuel 15:15).

Was this a satisfactory answer? Samuel’s words cut to the heart of the matter: “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 heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

The verdict was clear. No excuse Saul could offer would make his actions acceptable. He knew what God had commanded and disobeyed.

Do we not see the very same thing happening today? Folks throughout the religious world think they are offering some great sacrifice to the Lord, but in reality, they are living in direct opposition to what God has commanded. Self-deception is rampant in the twenty-first century. We must examine the Word of God and compare our lives in all honesty to what He has revealed. Are we obedient, or are we offering sacrifices He has never demanded?

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