I SAMUEL 15:20-21: “And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Do I offer to the Lord “full” or “partial” obedience? Do I approach the Lord on my own terms, or am I fully surrendered to Him and His Word. The account of Saul’s actions in the battle of the Amalekites speaks to these questions. God had called Saul and the armies of Israel to devote to destruction the entire people of Amalek as judgment for their actions against Israel when they where sojourning from Egypt. They were to take no prisoners and they were to take no spoil. Saul as King was called to lead the army in both the mission they were called to fulfill, and as an example of obeying the voice of God. Saul got one right, the other he failed miserably.
When the army routed the Amalekites they took Agag, King of Amalek, and the best of the spoil, sheep, oxen, and the devoted things. When Samuel confronted Saul and asked him why he disobeyed the Lord, Saul’s reply was – “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord!” Saul then did something that we are all experts at doing – he justified his disobedience. Saul change the setting just enough to excuse his failure to obey the Lord. “We took the spoil to devote to the Lord” – was Saul’s excuse. It sounded noble, it sounded spiritual. Yet, it was disobedience to the clear command of the Lord no matter how he spun it. When pressed further Saul then blamed the people – “…I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” These are the two classic maneuvers I have been guilty of in my life – “self justification” and “passing the buck”.
God’s response to Saul through Samuel is one of the most familiar and quoted Scriptures in the Bible:
I SAMUEL 15:22-23: “And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” (ESV)
The book of Revelation says it this way:
REVELATION 3:15-18: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” (ESV)
God desires integrity and obedience from my heart. Integrity leads me to an honest response to His commands, and to my failures. It lays “self justification” and “passing the buck” on the altar. Obedience is the response of a humble heart, aware of my own weakness, and crying out to God for cleansing and provision to follow His commands. I cannot obey the Lord in my own strength. Yet, when I humble myself under His mighty hand I receive Grace that is sufficient, Grace that instructs, empowers, and enables me to walk in His will.
This morning Lord I choose to lay down all my excuses at Your feet. I choose to confess my weakness and my need. I call upon You for Your abundant and all sufficient grace. I ask You to empower and enable me to offer to You the sacrifice You desire, the sacrifice of obedience. In Jesus Name!