“To obey is better than sacrifice.” King Saul found himself in a very difficult position which he alone had chosen. He stood before the prophet Samuel having disobeyed the Lord because of the fear of man. (See 1 Samuel 15:24) He was about to hear what the Lord thought about his disobedience.
In A Good Idea Part 1, I told a personal story in which I had a “good” idea for solving a problem for a friend but discovered God had a better idea. I encourage anyone reading this to read/re-read that post of July 10, 2015. In that article, I discussed the problem with only using our carnal nature (our soul) which is our rational mind, will and emotions to make decisions. Our five senses can also interfere with decision-making. Emotions fluctuate and cannot be trusted while our senses only determine what sounds, tastes, appears, smells and feels good/bad. Therefore, our carnal nature is typically self-centered and self-gratifying. Because our carnal nature is sensory, it must be tethered to the moral and ethical guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Lord speaks to us through His Holy Spirit directly (rhema) and through His written Word (logos), which is a bridle (or a restraint) to our carnal nature. We will never discover our full potential or know and achieve the purpose for which we were created without the Holy Spirit’s direction.
I quoted the Romans 8:5-8 passage in that article and discussed how our natural soul (mind, will and emotions) and 5 senses are at enmity with God. They often contradict what God speaks which causes a hindrance to our hearing and obeying the Lord. I also listed several reasons that can cause us to disobey the Lord. They are pride, a need to impress others, selfish ambition, perceived expectations of others and insecurity. Most of these fall under the category of the fear of man. I call it a man-pleasing spirit. This is a spirit that puts people in bondage to man and can hinder them from living a truly godly life. This spirit feeds on a person’s insecurity, causing them to require man’s approval to feel good about themselves. It circumvents their ability to become completely secure in the Lord and causes them to struggle to hear and obey Him. The story of Saul’s disobedience to God is a tragic one which exposes the seriousness of being in similar bondage without submitting to God’s power of deliverance and redemption.
This story begins in 1 Samuel 15:1-3. Verses 2-3 state, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, I have considered and will punish what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way when [Israel] came out of Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” See Exodus 17:8-16 and Numbers 24:20, to understand why God wanted to totally annihilate the Amalekites. Exodus 17:14 and 16 state, “And the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial in the book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens. And he said, Because theirs is a hand against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
The Amalekites were the first people to attack Israel while journeying in the wilderness after their 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Their type of warfare was wicked and barbaric. The Israelites were not trained for war, they were not prepared for war, and yet the Lord caused them to prevail and defeat the Amalekites. However, they did not totally destroy them. The Amalekites were haters of God and became a continual threat to Israel. Because of their atrocities against Israel, the Lord demanded they be annihilated completely. God gave that instruction to king Saul, who was responsible to execute the fulfillment of His promise to Israel while they were in the wilderness.
The Lord of heaven and earth is a Righteous Judge. He does not judge by outward appearance; He judges by the condition of the heart. The heart of the Amalekite was vicious and cruel. It is also not God’s nature to judge without giving the opportunity to repent. When the Lord God speaks, His words are weighed carefully. He does not judge rashly or recklessly. He speaks explicitly and His instructions are to be carried out completely. Isaiah 55:11 states, “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
The Lord had sent His Word to king Saul through the prophet Samuel. Samuel was a proven prophet of God and Saul knew it was the Word of God Himself. 1 Samuel 15:6-8 “And Saul came to the city of Amalek and laid wait in the valley. Saul warned the Kenites, Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, though he utterly destroyed all the rest of the people with the sword. Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but all that was undesirable or worthless they destroyed utterly.” (Emphasis mine) The Lord not only wanted the Amalekites destroyed, His judgment included all their resources which were also judged as vile.
Saul did not follow the Lord’s instructions to their fulfillment. Instead, he decided to spare king Agag and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good in his eyes, which was a direct violation of God’s Word! In this time period, victorious kings would often spare the life of the king they defeated to either become friends later or make them slaves as their personal trophy. Saul presumptuously obstructed the fulfillment of God’s promise to Joshua and the Israelites from coming to pass exactly as He had said. Saul and the people thought they had a “better” idea than the Lord. Their idea was self-centered and self-gratifying. King Agag would bring glory to Saul and the cattle would bring riches to him and the people. King Saul was responsible and held accountable before the Lord because the Word of the Lord was spoken directly to him. In 1 Samuel 15:21-26 we find the Lord’s response to Saul through Samuel, “Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a 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. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images). Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king. And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now, I pray you, pardon my sin and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord. And Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” (Emphasis mine) Excuses do not exonerate. True repentance is a personal acceptance of responsibility as well as a change of mind and direction. Saul was not truly repentant, he was just appeasing Samuel and the Lord for being caught in his sin. I encourage you to finish the passage on your own.
God considers disobedience to His direct instruction comparable to rebellion and equates it with witchcraft. He also connects stubbornness with idolatry! In the world in which we live, the Biblical Kingdom lifestyle is rejected by the majority and there is intense pressure on the church to conform to the world’s standard instead of God’s. We are being called intolerant, bigots and haters of people and the day may come when we will face persecution for our beliefs like those in other countries of the world. The fear of man is one of satan’s greatest tools to cause God’s people to compromise or deny their faith in God and His Word.
Temptations to compromise God’s written Word and His spoken Word will always come. We must recognize the source of these temptations and hold fast to the Word of God. The Lord is calling us to inspect our lives to see if there might be any compromise in our hearts. If we examine our actions and our motives humbly before the Lord, we will begin to see if we, too have fallen prey to the fear of man even to a small degree.
The fear of man is usually at the source when we are manipulated by guilt, rejection, control, false praise, the silent treatment, outbursts of anger, tears, man’s opinion and pressure to name a few. We are truly free from the fear of man when we are not affected by any of those forms of manipulation, but only seek the Holy Spirit’s direction and affirmation for who we are and what we are to do.
Jesus knew who He was and was not yielding to the devil while being tempted in the wilderness. He never cowered or surrendered His authority when challenged by the Scribes and Pharisees. He did not use His emotions to get His way. Rather, He obeyed the leading of His Heavenly Father regarding everything He said and did, including His own death on the cross.
As the world becomes darker and more evil, the children of God are called to raise up the standard of Biblical morality and lifestyle while we point to the Lord as Savior and King. The church must take her lead from the Lord. He loves even the vilest sinner but will not tolerate their sin! The woman caught in the act of adultery was not condemned by Jesus but as she left Jesus, He said to her, “Go on your way and from now on sin no more.” (My Emphasis) (See John 8:1-11)
We must carry the Banner of Jesus Christ, teaching His Kingdom instead of tolerating the world’s kingdom. One who is tolerant of sin accepts the sin and makes it admissible. God will never accept and allow the world’s sin in His Kingdom. He is Holy and we are called to rise to the level of holiness in our hearts. Sin and holiness cannot co-exist in heaven.
We are God’s ambassadors, therefore we are to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We are to be like Him to the world. He dearly loves the sinner, but hates their sin that leads to death and eternal judgment. He gave his life so that we can all be redeemed from a life of sin, delivered from its bondage, and freed to live in His peace. Jesus invites us to become a citizen of His Kingdom which will never end. Now that is a God idea!