Summary: Avoid these pitfalls of disobedience - the temptation to rationalize it, to belittle it, to blame it, to give excuses for it, to please man rather than God.
Today we are going to touch on one topic that we can all speak with experience – disobedience.
• Whether it’s disobedience to parents, to authority, or to God. We know what it is and how difficult it is, sometimes.
• To obey is not easy. It takes trust, it takes faith and humility.
Saul was put to the test, yet again, in the war against the Amalekites.
• A crisis is an opportunity for us to show God WHO we are. Can we really trust God enough to obey Him?
[Read 1 Sam 15:1-23]
Saul’s experience is not unique. It can happen to anyone of us.
• God did not set him up in a difficult situation only to see his downfall. God prepared him for this kingship, remember? God did not prepare someone to fail.
• Saul’s experience can teach us important lessons about obedience to God. This incident wasn’t recorded to frighten us but to teach us.
• We can all avoid the same pitfalls and learn to trust God.
The setting is crystal clear. God gave a very clear and direct command:
• 1 Sam 15:3 “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
• We do not know the entire context well enough to understand the rationale for this command.
• They are like the ISIS of today and the world is fighting them. Centuries after, people may question why we are so aggressive against the ISIS.
We don’t have the full picture, only God knows and He has stated His will very clearly.
• That’s the test – Can you trust God’s Word for it? Can you trust that God’s way is different from ours, because He sees and knows more than we do?
Pitfall 1: The Temptation to RATIONALISE it.
We want to understand the reasons and knows the logic behind it. We want to know the why.
• There is nothing wrong with asking – God gives us a mind to think - but at the end of all the asking, we need to submit to His will.
• Our thoughts are not His thoughts, neither our ways His ways. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9)
We need to know where we stand. We are not on par with Him, seating at the same table negotiating terms with Him. He is God and we are not.
UOB has this TV commercial 2 years ago, in which a father tells the son not to touch the vase. It kind-of symbolises the dad's trust for his son.
His son promised he wouldn't touch the vase but yet he did, breaking his promise and the trust his dad had for him. The dad came back, knew what had happened, and dropped the vase.
What is most important and priceless, is not the value of the vase. It is the TRUST between them that is most valuable.
Can God trusts Saul to obey Him? Can Saul obeys God even when it does not make good sense - destroying all the good flock?
Obedience is the acceptance of the authority and will of God.
• It means submitting to Him and expressing that submission in actions, words and thoughts. To be obedient is to be in agreement with God.
Saul’s first response to Samuel was: “I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” (15:13) - not entirely but generally.
Pitfall 2: The Temptation to BELITTLE it.
I’ve done what the Lord says, at least, to a certain extent. I did what was necessary.
• Samuel says, “What is this bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle that I’m hearing?” (15:14)
• Saul was caught. His answer was: “The soldiers took them…”
Pitfall 3: The Temptation to BLAME it. “It’s not my fault.”
• 1 Sam 15:9 says, “But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs-everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
• 1 Sam 15:10-11 “Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11"I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because HE has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.”
Pitfall 4: The Temptation to GIVE AN EXCUSE for it. “I’ve a good reason for this.”
1 Sam 15:15 - the soliders “spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
• It’s interesting to note that Saul refers to God as YOUR GOD. “I kept them for YOUR God…”