Main point summary
1 Samuel 15:22-23
And Samuel said,
w “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
הַחֵפֶץ לַיהוָה בְּעֹלוֹת וּזְבָחִים
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
כִּשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל יְהוָה
Behold, x to obey is better than sacrifice,
הִנֵּה שְׁמֹעַ מִזֶּבַח טוֹב
and to listen than the fat of rams.
לְהַקְשִׁיב מֵחֵלֶב אֵילִים׃
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
כִּי חַטַּאת־קֶסֶם מֶרִי
and presumption is as iniquity and y idolatry.
וְאָוֶן וּתְרָפִים הַפְצַר
Because z you have rejected the word of the Lord,
יַעַן מָאַסְתָּ אֶת־דְּבַר יְהוָה
a he has also rejected you from being king.”
Not very long after Israel demands a human king for themselves, and we are introduced to Saul, we find him disobeying God and being rejected from his new post. But what's the big deal? It's not like Saul disobeyed in a BIG way right? After all, Samuel was really really late and the people were starting to scatter, so Saul HAD to do the sacrifice, right? (1 Sam 13:8-15) And here in 1 Sam 15, Saul DID attack and completely destroy the Amalekites, like God told him too...it's just that the people wanted to give sacrifices to the Lord, so they kept some of the best of the booty to do that, and as for preserving the king of the Amalekites, well, that's just common curtesy... Saul does what we all do. He plays games. He does almost exactly what he's supposed to do, but not quite. He makes excuses and even tries to convince Samuel and God that his disobedience was for, not just a good reason, but in order to honor God. But God is not fooled and He is definitely not impressed. In God's eyes these "small" stretching of the rules are on equal grounds with divination and idolatry. They are hardcore sin. And while Saul may have a higher responsibility because of being king ("Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel..." 1 Sam 15:17 ), this warning goes to us all. It is a sobering warning. God demands obedience, and it doesn't matter what excuses you have, what the people or culture around you say, or what heart motive you've convinced yourself that you are disobeying for. Please, Lord, forgive me for playing such games. Please give me a heart that loves you and obeys when I know that you have commanded something. QUESTIONS/NOTES 1. How is rebellion like divination, and how is presumption like idolatry? Is the comparison of the type of sin, or merely of the seriousness of it? 2. There are far reaching results to Saul's disobedience. Even though Samuel kills Agag, the king of the Amalekites in 15:32-33, apparently someone else from the kings house escaped, for in the book of Esther, it is Haman the Agagite (Esther 3:1), who wants to destroy the Jewish people. Just as Israel's disobedience in clearing out the land completely when they first enter results in continual war, oppression and temptation from the Philistines and other peoples, Saul's similar disobedience causes great troubles for his people. As brutal as it sounds when I read that God ordered complete destruction of peoples, I understand this aspect of the reasoning.