Monday, April 8, 2024

            Not long after Samuel made Saul the first king of Israel, fortunes changed rather dramatically for Saul.  God rejected him as king over Israel.  Quickly and decisively.  There would be no second act for King Saul.  The king’s disobedience led to these dire consequences.  The Bible has this to say about God’s verdict against Saul, “Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you’” (1 Samuel 15:28).  As the first king of Israel, Saul had thought that he could take matters into his own hands when it came to obeying God.  While the Lord God had ordered Saul to destroy the Amalekites, the king did not do that.  He made plans to offer a sacrifice to God instead. 
            Samuel challenged Saul, “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.  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” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).  Disobedience carries harsh consequences.  Saul lost his throne and kingdom.  He lost his standing and reputation.  His line would no longer occupy a seat of authority in Israel.  Rather, he became an unfortunate footnote in Israel’s history—a mere hiccup along the way to the line and house of David.
            We learn a few practical lessons from Saul’s failures.  First, obedience is not a subjective matter.  We either obey God or we do not.  If we have to explain how we have not disobeyed God on the basis of some technicality then we have already failed.  Obedience is not a matter of adding more to what God has said or thinking that we have improved on what God has said.  We are not to ration or sift what God has said.  As Samuel noted, the Lord prefers obedience to sacrifice and obedience to any offering. 
            Second, disobedience can result in a disruption of God’s blessings and favor.  God had promised good things to Saul and his line.  The favor of God would have rested with Saul.  Samuel declared, “’You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command’” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).  It might be overwhelming to imagine what blessings and favor we have forfeited because of our disobedience to God.
            Third, obedience is not an old-fashioned or obsolete idea today.  If we claim to know and love God, we will obey Him.  We will not handle or treat His Word in a loose and careless way.  We will know, cherish and keep His Word.  God’s Word endures forever.  Human ideas and propositions will scatter and perish with the wind but God’s Word stands the test of time.
            When Samuel anointed a new king for Israel, God gave him this reminder.  The Bible says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).  God values character and a heart that is yielded to Him above all the superficial qualities and characteristics that the world or culture might value.  God prefers a heart that knows, loves, seeks and obeys Him.  While David was not perfect, he was called a man after God’s own heart.  We find some of that heart-value and heart-worthiness in the Psalms that David wrote. 
            This ordeal in Israel history teaches us that to be used by God, we must know and walk with God.  To serve God, we must obey God.  Obedience is not measured by whatever we like or think may be fitting.  Obedience is valuing what God has said and declared to be right and good.  We are not to make substitutes as we think or choose.  From David’s line would come Jesus, our Savior and King.  Saul, for the most part, remains the symbol of an inauspicious start to the monarchy.  He stands as a man who could not or would not grasp what God simply asked of Him.  Like David, may we trust and obey the Lord and see where that leads and watch what God does in and with those who are sold out to Him.  Have a great Monday!  Remember you can share our worship any time at  

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