To obey is better than sacrifice
“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination…” (1 Sam 15:22-23) NIV
The people had wanted to be like other nations and have a king of their own. God forgave them for rejecting Him and instructed Samuel to anoint Saul king. But the appointment came with a caveat: “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away” (1 Sam 12:24-25).
But neither Saul nor the people took the Lord’s warning seriously. Saul himself soon began to compromise his own obedience to the Lord. For the sake of strategy, convenience, greed and pride, he chose to disobey the Lord’s commands even as he confessed his fealty to God. The final straw came when he coveted the spoils of the Amalekites instead of destroying them as the Lord had commanded. When confronted with his disobedience, Saul lied saying that he kept the sheep to make an offering to the Lord. He thought he could bribe the Lord with an offering and placate the Lord’s wrath with the fat of rams. But God totally rejected Saul and his offering, saying his disobedience, his willful defiance of God, was as grievous to God as the sin of witchcraft.
Obedience is one of the foundations upon which a true relationship with God is based. “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them” [1 John 3:24]. Obedience is the true test of our love for Him. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” Jesus said. He modeled his own love for the Father by His total obedience in the way He lived His life.
And yet, “obedience” – that word seems so harsh, so repulsive even, especially in our culture today, a culture imbued with the philosophy that we, and we alone, are our own masters, that we bend our wills to none, that we alone determine what’s best for us, that we alone define the morality of our actions.
This is the philosophy that Satan planted in Adam’s mind – that we can all be our own god – the philosophy that led to that first act of disobedience. And it still lingers and lurks doesn’t it?
Coming to Christ means rejecting that philosophy and submitting to the will of God and the Word of God. Surely, there can only be one ruler on the throne of our hearts – Christ or us. A house divided cannot stand. If God be God, bend to Him, and Him alone. If you confess Him as Lord, submit to Him as Lord. There are no half measures in this matter.
If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that this is where the real battle between God and us unfolds. This is where the battle for faith, for spiritual integrity, is won or lost.
Have we allowed strains of that other philosophy to invade our thinking and cause us to speak and act contrary to His will, His word, while offering excuses and justifying our actions? Do we bend our knees to what we think is right or convenient instead of what He declares is truth? Do we acquiesce to that which God disapproves? Do we keep silent when faith demands a response?
In the end, how different are we from Saul?