By Pastor I.O.Odewale

Text: 1 Samuel 15:1-23

Obedience is not obedience when it is not full obedience. Partial obedience is not obedience at all in our walk with God. He demands full obedience from us. Our obedience to His word is the proof that we love and believe Him. We should also remember that our disobedience will be punished. This happened to King Saul as read in the text quoted above.

Saul the first king of Israel was sent by God to attack Amalek and completely destroy the land without sparing any man or woman or animal. Saul went as the Lord commanded him through the mouth of Samuel. But instead of totally destroying the Amalekites Saul and the people spared Agag king of Amalek and the best sheep, the oxen, the fatlings the lambs and all that was good and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. However, they utterly destroyed everything that was worthless and despised. This grieved the mind of God.

We must understand that God has reasons for whatever He commands us to do and we cannot claim to be wiser than God. In all cases, what He commands us to do is always to our advantage. The reason why God commanded Saul to utterly destroy Amalek and not allow any life to live was because the Amalakites were idolatrous people who God wanted to remove from the land of Canaan. If they were spared they could entice the people of God into idolatry. Secondly, all they had were accursed. The people of God are not allowed to bring accursed things into their midst lest they themselves become accursed. Remember that God is not under any obligation to explain what He does or what He is doing to us. All that we need to do is to obey His word.

Before this incident Saul had followed God uprightly and had always obeyed His commands. What happened to him now that he failed to carry out God’s command?  This is what God said about him: ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments’ (v.10). Many of us are guilty of partial or total disobedience to the word of God at one point or the other despite our resolve to be obedient to His word. The reasons why Saul fell short of God’s expectation could be found in any of us:

  1. Taking God for granted
  2. Taking advice from wrong sources
  3. Fear of man
  4. Failure to seek God and His strength
  5. Greed and covetousness

Christians must be aware of their position as children of God and the responsibilities attached to it. Just as no one will be pleased with a disobedient child so God will not be pleased with us when we disobey Him. We cannot take God for granted by thinking that He will condone partial obedience to His word. Saul did this at the expense of his kingdom and relationship with God.

As God’s children we must attach great importance to His word knowing that He magnifies His word above His name. The Psalmist says, ‘Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You’ (Ps.119:11). God’s word takes precedent over the advice of the wisest counsellor. We cannot set aside God’s word to do what pleases us or what our friends advise us as Saul did.

It is not impossible that Saul feared his commanders and bent to their determination to swoop on the spoil of the war despite God’s instruction to the contrary. We should remember that God has not given us the spirit of fear but the spirit of boldness and of love and of a sound mind (2Tim.1:7).

Perhaps Saul did not give himself to prayer in which he could seek God’s guidance and strength in the face of temptation. Children of God should be prayerful and watchful so that they do not fall into temptation.

Greed and covetousness could have played their part in making Saul to fall into the sin of disobedience to the word of God. We should be careful not to let the lust for this world’s material things make us to forfeit our relationship with God.

God as well as Samuel was grieved with the disobedience of Saul. When Samuel confronted him for what he did he explained:

‘But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal’ (v.21).

In reply Samuel gave a sublime and a thought-provoking statement in the Old Testament:

‘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 (v.22).

Then he went on to pronounce God’s judgement on him:

‘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’ (v.23).

We should be very careful not to go against the word of God because He will not overlook it.

Let us consider some conditions to be met for total obedience to God’s word:

  1. We should tremble at the word of God (Isa.66:2).
  2. We must remember that God cannot make a mistake (2Sam.22:31).
  3. We must remember that God is all-seeing and all-knowing (Ps.139:1-2).
  4. We must allow God to always have His way knowing fully that God’s ways and thoughts are different and higher than our ways (Isa.55:8-9).
  5. We must be ready at all times to please God and not ourselves (Acts 5:29)
  6. We need to surround yourselves with God-fearing people (Heb.10:25; 2Cor.6:14).
  7. We must be sure that we understand God’s perfect will and be ready to do it (Ro.12:2; Eph.5:17).

As we think about theses things and put them into practice, they would help us in obedient walk with God. Our utmost desire should be to please God at all times.

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