Summary: Obedience is what pleases God most.
To Obey is Better. 1 Samuel 15:22
Israel enjoyed a distinction that no other nation has ever experienced. God was their King. He chose them.
He wanted to be their God and King. As is typical of human nature Israel wanted what they didn’t have which was a human king.
God chose Saul to be the first King of Israel. It was God who sent the prophet Samuel out to find Saul and anoint him to be king. From the very beginning Saul had a problem. He just never could seem to obey God commands.
From the beginning he made a habit out of partial obedience. He would do some of what God commanded but never all of what God commanded.
At one point, Saul became impatient with the delay in the arrival of Samuel the prophet so he took over the priestly duties and offered a religious sacrifice himself.
This was a clear violation of God’s laws regarding worship and it prompted Samuel to say, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you.”
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.
This sermon is centered around a story found in 1 Samuel 15.
King Saul has been commanded by God through the prophet Samuel to go to war with the Amalekites. Samuel is very clear in God’s commands. Destroy everything. This is plain, clear and to the point. The Bible says, “ . . . utterly destroy all that they have and do not spare them.”
Saul engages the enemy and destroys all the people but proceeds to spare the King and the best of the sheep, the oxen the lambs and all that was good.
1 Samuel 15:9 says that they destroyed everything worthless and despised but that they were unwilling to destroy anything that was good.
As this is happening, the prophet Samuel hears from God and the message is not a good one. God says, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.”
We are told that it grieved Samuel and that he cried out to the Lord all night.
As he faces Saul the next day, Saul greets him with what I call a smoke screen greeting, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”
Reminds me of what fundraisers often face when dealing with wealthy people who will head off the fundraiser from asking for a specific amount of money by offering a much lesser amount.
Saul makes his declaration but Samuel gives him a classic and pointed response.
“What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”
I want to ask you some questions this morning.
Are you following God’s commands?
Are you living a life of partial obedience to God’s commands?
Do you find it easier to be obedient when you know people are looking?
Have you been struggling with some area of your life that you know needs to be surrendered to God?
God speaks in all kind of ways to all kinds of people.
I believe this message has been laid across your pathway this morning, by God and for a reason.
For some of us it is a warning to stay away from things that displease God or go against His word.
For others it is a call to stop and examine your ways. To reflect honestly on your lifestyle and to ask the simple question, am I living in obedience to God’s word and way?
Don’t try to cover the question by listing all the things you do.
I go to church. I work for the church. I sing in the choir or play in the band. I teach a class. I serve God most of the time.
Last time I checked that is not the standard.
Partial obedience doesn’t cut it.
I know this a unique church. We try to extend grace to people and give them a chance to work out the issues in their lives.
May I remind you again that our goal and mission as a church is to lead people into a growing relationship with Christ? Our goal is not to hand out free passes to heaven that allow people to continue to live any old way they want.