Saul had a problem. In 1 Samuel 15, he bypasses the guidelines of God for sacrifice, and because Samuel had not yet arrived in his distress, he offered the sacrifice himself. When Samuel arrives, Saul receives correction and warning from the prophet. Because Saul bypassed the statutes and guidelines of God in disobedience and took upon himself to sacrifice to God in Samuel’s stead, the prophet delivered the following chastisement, “Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.”
Even though sacrifice was something God desired and even demanded, it was not to be done without obedience. Many enter into worship to God, not for the pleasure it brings to the Lord, but for the feeling it gives to them. With no inward intention of leaving God’s presence and continuing a life of obedience, they bring their sacrifice of praise and worship simply to placate to their sensibilities and pleasure. Does God honor worship and sacrifice offered in disobedience? Does God even need our worship to begin with? He is not interested in what we deem to be sacrificial unless it is steeped in a heartfelt intention of obedience. Week after week our churches are filled with those engaging in willful disobedience, yet bringing sacrifice to God as though it is what God desires.
Samuel’s next statement was profound… a prophetic warning to a man who had a proclivity to disobedience. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
This coming from Saul’s trusted voice must have rattled him deeply, as it caused him to remove all the witches and wizards from the land. He didn’t get the heart of the message, however. Rather than correcting his issue of disobedience, he chose to try and safeguard himself from more hurt.
2 Corinthians 10:6 says, “And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
We should build a lifestyle that is vigilant against disobedience, no matter what form it presents itself in. Merely reacting to “issues” does no good in safeguarding us from future failure. Because Saul only reacted to, “issues”, and never cultivated a life of obedience to God, he found himself in another straight shortly after Samuel’s death in 1 Samuel 28.
The heat is on. The Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel, and Saul again takes matters into his own hands. God had left him… Samuel was dead… And in an act of desperation, the security measure he made of banishing those with familiar spirits from Israel was nullified and Samuel’s prophetic warning overtakes him. The very thing he intended to avoid becomes the catalyst of his death. As if a moth to a flame, Saul seeks out the witch of Endor, living out the prophet’s words and manifesting his rebellion in the sin of witchcraft.
Obedience is serious, and has eternal implications.
1 Peter 4:17
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
2 Thessalonians 1:8
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:”