ESOCS Devotional 20 April 2023
“Then 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.” 1 Samuel 15:22 & 23
TEXT: 1 SAMUEL 15:12–23
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
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 Lordsaid 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 Lordanointed 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.”
God’s instruction to Saul was clear and unambiguous: “Now go attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” From this instruction, Amalek was in the category of the “devoted things” or “the accursed things” to be wiped out clean. Nothing was to remain of them and nothing should be taken of them. This was the will of God, His decree on them for what they did to Israel on their way from Egypt. However, Saul spared Agag and kept the best and fattest of the domestic animals. This clearly contravened God’s will and instructions to him.
Saul said he did this so that the soldiers may have some spoil for their efforts and also that they may offer sacrifices unto God. Ordinarily, these are very good things to do. Many people fall into sin while doing things they consider good and beneficial in some respect. But whatever contravenes God’s instructions and His will, no matter the good intended, cannot be good. Many people fall into sin because they do not have the knowledge of God. Saul obviously did not have this knowledge or may have forgotten; otherwise, he would have remembered the case of Ai and how God dealt with Joshua and all Israel in the case of the accursed thing; and that Achan and his household were destroyed. If he had it in mind, he would have been careful to heed God’s instructions on Amalek. Today, this knowledge is contained in the Bible.
Of worthy of note is Saul’s intention to use the best of the livestock to sacrifice unto God. This again cannot be said to be bad except if you understand that sacrifice done with products of sin is abominable unto God and that sacrifice for sin will not be necessary if there is no sin. Hence, Samuel told him that to obey is better than sacrifice. No one should sin with the intention of asking God for forgiveness later. The best and what God desires is for man to heed His word and live in righteousness.
- Why do you think people, in spite of knowing the laws of God, go on to live in disobedience?
- Can you think of five benefits of living in obedience to God? Enumerate them.
- Our heavenly Father, in many ways we may have disobeyed your clear instructions and sinned against you. Please forgive us and teach us to do your will. Amen.
FURTHER READING: Genesis 22:1-18; Lamentations 5:15-end; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:50-56
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ESOCS Devotional 20 April 2023