Summary: Based on Saul’s partial obedience in destroying the Amalekites we look at the causes and consequences of disobedience in our own lives. God expects total obedience. Partial obedience is equivalent to disobedience.
Introduction: The first King of Israel faced disastrous consequences because he failed to obey God. The hardening of his heart and his casual attitude to the sin of partial obedience caused him to be rejected as King. He lost his kingdom and eventually lost his life. As we analyze the reasons for Saul’s disobedience, we look at our own lives to consider our own walk and obedience to God.
I The Routine: How Saul disobeyed?
i) By partial obedience: He obeyed only part of the Lord’s command to destroy all the people and livestock. He spared Agag the king and the best of the livestock. Saul’s obedience was not 100%, 95 maybe but not complete. In v 20 he protests but I did obey! This is not good enough in God’s economy.
ii) This was further compounded by denial: In v 13 when Samuel caught up with Saul the latter boldly says I have obeyed. Num 32:23 says that your sin will find you out. The bleating sheep and lowing cattle gave Saul away. The Holy Spirit exposed Annanias and Saphira.
iii) When caught he tried to pass the buck: v 15 he says that his soldiers did it. This is the oldest trick. Adam tried to do it to Eve who tried to do it to the serpent.
II The Reason: Why Saul disobeyed?
i) He turned away from the Lord: v 11 the Lord himself testifies to this. The same Saul, who was among the prophets prophesying, anointed King of Israel and head and shoulders above his brothers has now turned away from God.
ii) Pride came into his heart: v 17 he was once small in his own eyes, now he was going to build a monument for himself (v 12). The Lord had lifted him up but now his pride was becoming his downfall. Pro 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
iii) He was afraid of the people: v 24, and so gave into them. The people were leading him instead of he leading the people. Pro 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
iv) He prioritized religion over obedience: v 15, he thought that the Lord would be very happy to receive all the sacrifices over the slight disobedience of sparing the animals. Perhaps these trophies of war including Agag would have added to his stature.
III The Result: What happened as Saul disobeyed?
i) He acknowledged his sin: v24 this only happened when he was confronted with the seriousness of it.
ii) He asked Samuel for forgiveness: v25 but he does not seek it from God. 2Co 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. He was more interested in restoring his honour before the people, v 30.
iii) God rejected him: v26-29 the kingdom was torn from him and given to David. Even though he continued to be king till his death (Rom 11:29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable). Samuel too was separated from him till his death (v 35)
Can we see today the consequences of disobedience? More than all the sacrifices and religious observances, God wants us to obey him. Are you obeying God in every area of your life?
Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (Joh 14:21)