Obedience better than sacrifice
by Ivan Ho 11 Apr 2022
God delights in our obedience rather than the religious things that we do. Saul tried to spiritualise his disobedience by making sacrifice to the Lord. The two attitudes of Saul that led to his downfall were Rebellion and Stubbornness. Had he repented instead of trying to justify his rebellious behaviours, God would still have accepted him as king. David also sinned and he repented, but Saul never did.
Rebellion is as the sin of Witchcraft, and Stubbornness is as iniquity and Idolatry.
When God tells you not to do something and you do it, that’s rebellion. When God points out your sin and instead of repentance, you insist in your ways and try to justify it, that’s stubbornness.
The world celebrates tough characters who keep on persisting in their own ways no matter what others say. There is a fine line between persistence and stubbornness. When you are going in the wrong direction but you persist in the same direction instead of changing course, that’s stubbornness. When God says you are heading in the wrong direction but you ignore his voice which messes up your plans, you are setting up yourself for disaster.
“The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5), not the tough nuts.
On April 15th, 1912, the RMS Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg, and 1500 people perished in the waters. The captain of the doomed ship, Edward J. Smith, went down with it. The night of the collision with the iceberg, Smith was attending a private party. After receiving several warnings about icebergs from other nearby ships, Smith went to bed and left the ship to its fate. The first warning about icebergs came from the “Caronia,” another passenger ship, on the morning of April 14th. Captain Smith posted the message on the bridge before leading a religious service for the passengers in first class. The second warning came in the afternoon of the 14th from the “Baltic.” Smith showed the warning to Joseph Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line. In the evening a warning about ice made to another ship was overheard by the crew, and in the late evening, two warnings about icebergs from the “Mesaba” and the “Californian” were ignored by telegraphic operators distracted by personal messages coming in for the passengers.
Ignoring warning signals from others often lead to disastrous consequences.
Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.” So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?”
And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
So 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 heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
I Samuel 15:13-23 NKJV