Summary: We look at the fall of King Saul. We see how he rationalized his sins by selective obedience, shifting blame, and subterfuge. Then we study the true nature of obedience and end with an enlightening story.
TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE
1 Sam. 15:1-30
A. HUMOR: KNOWING IS NOT DOING
1. United Press International (UPI) reported that termites had eaten through a large stack of documents entitled, “Control of Termites” in the mail room of the University of California at Berkley.
2. One would expect that university buildings would be free from termites at such a center of higher education since so much is known about termites.
3. But it’s one thing to know about something and quite another to apply that knowledge. The Lord Jesus said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” John 13:7.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them....’” 9 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. 10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” 15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” 16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. 17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” 20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” 22 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”
We’re going to look at Saul’s fall, how he rationalized his sins, and what is the true nature of obedience. The title of this message is “To Obey is Better than Sacrifice.”
I. JUDGMENT ON AMALEK (vss. 1-3)
A. A DIVINE COMMAND – Verse 1
B. A LONG MEMORY
1. Amalek attacked Israel on the way to the Promised Land.
2. God had long ago prophesied the destruction of Amalek (Ex. 17:16; Deut. 25:17-19).
3. 412 years had passed. Now the fulfillment had come. “I remember...” God says. This reminds us that God NEVER forgets unrepented sins.
4. Don’t think, just because judgment hasn’t fallen on you, that God has forgotten your sin. He has not!
II. ARE YOU YOUR OWN BOSS?(vss. 9-12)
A. SAUL’S REMARKABLE RISE TO POWER
1. When appointed, Saul was a nobody. God, as the true King over Israel, set Saul up as His Prime Minister to carry out His directives. (Similar to Pharaoh setting up Joseph in Egypt).
2. For hundreds of years, God ruled over Israel through the