Summary: Obedience is the duty of every child of God. It is not an option, but an obligation.

Obedience Is Not Optional

Text: I Sam.15: 22

Intro: We hear a lot these days about options. An option is “the act of choosing; choice; the freedom to choose” (Webster’s New Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus: published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN., copyright 1984; pg. 499).

If I have an extensive educational background and varied work experience, my career options may be more numerous than they would be otherwise. Greater preparation means greater opportunity and varied choices.

If I go to purchase a new car, I will have a wide range of options to choose from. I can choose between numerous makes and models, engine sizes and creature comforts. I can choose to drive home in a basic car, or a top of the line luxury car. My options are limited only by my ability to fork over the money to pay for my choices.

Life is full of choices. We make an innumerable amount of decisions every day. Not all of them are necessarily life-changing, but choices nonetheless. However, there are many things in life that should not be considered optional. For instance, I can choose not to eat any food for the next three months; but if I want to remain alive, not eating over an extended period of time is not really an option.

By the same token, I can choose not to pay any more taxes; but if I value my good name and my personal freedom, not paying taxes isn’t an option that I can afford. Some things in life are simply not optional.

Too often in our world, and especially here in the United States, we tend to view almost everything as optional—an either/or situation. But as just stated, there are some things in life that are not optional. Our obedience to God should not be one of those things. Oh, certainly we can choose not to obey God; but that is only an option if one doesn’t place much importance on the will of God, His blessings, and closeness with Him.

I want to consider a man today that lived as though obeying God was optional. That attitude, and the rebellion behind it, was his downfall. The man of whom I wish to speak was the first king of Israel—Saul. We will see in the course of this message, not only the disastrous results of Saul’s lack of obedience, but also some pitfalls for we, as Christians, to avoid.

Theme: An attitude of optional obedience led to:


A. Samuel’s Godly Edict.

1. A reminder prefaced this command to Saul.

I Sam.15: 1 “Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord.”

NOTE: [1] Samuel’s reminder was basically this: “Saul, it was God Who made you king over Israel. Because of that fact, you are obliged to obey His commands.”

[2] The same thing can be said about God’s children today. Just as God did not make Saul king of Israel because his own merits, neither are we God’s children today on the basis of any personal merits of our own. Our sins have been forgiven simply because of the marvelous grace of God (Eph.2: 8-9). The Apostle Paul goes further, and adds, “…Ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor.6: 19b, 20).

[3] To state Paul’s conclusion simply: God has a right to expect obedience, honor, and respect from those He has purchased with the blood of His own Son.

[4] Peter T. Forsythe was right when he said, "The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master".

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 22.

2. God’s command to Saul was clear and specific.

I Sam.15: 2 “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

NOTE: [1] Amalek was the grandson of Esau (Gen.36: 12). His descendants, called, Amalekites, were the relentless enemies of Israel. When the children of Israel came out of Egyptian bondage, the Amalekites made a cowardly attack upon the feeble and weary at the rear of Israel’s ranks (Ex.17: 8-16; Deut.25: 18). It was this act that prompted God to command that Israel would have war continually with Amalek until they were eradicated. This was for two reasons:

1a. God knew what the Amalekites would seek to do to His people in the future.

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