1 Samuel 15:22 & 23 “(22) And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken that the fat of rams. (23) 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 passage sums records the mistake that cost Saul his kingship, sanity and eventually his life. The account of his error before the Lord was meant to serve as an ensample of how we ought to strive for holiness while in service for the Lord. However, the sad truth is that modern philosophy of Christianity is the same as Saul’s mentality when he disobeyed the Lord; and yet, those whom think like Saul in today’s age are just as oblivious to their error before the Lord.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard verse 22 referred to in our church with the phrase “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” We may know that obedience is greater in the eyes of God, but can we say why this is the case? Thus is the inspiration for today’s devotion, “Obedience Above All Else.” To fully understand this scripture we must examine: 1) The Cause to Disobedience; 2) The Mindset of the Disobedient; and, 3) The Repercussions of Disobedience.
1.) The Cause of Disobedience – Saul was given precise instructions prior to the military engagement that occurred just before this passage. His instructions were very plain and simple from the man of God (Samuel): destroy the Amalekites and all which they possessed, sparing not man, woman child or any livestock (to paraphrase). Yet between the delivery of God’s Word and the conclusion of battle Saul was not mindful to keep the Word of God in his heart. He either misremembered, distorted or rationalized the instructions delivered by the Prophet Samuel. Saul kept the Kind of the Amalekites alive, took scores of sheep and livestock as the spoils of war, and when Samuel arrived he praised the Lord in a manner that suggests Saul was ignorant of his deviation from God’s instruction. Thus, we can see the cause of disobedience, not keeping the word of the Lord. Regardless of whether through neglect, omission, or perversion of the Word of God, all disobedience begins with disregarding the importance of God’s Word and failing to see the importance of applying it to our hearts and preserving every last detail.
2.) The Mindset of the Disobedient – Saul was not concerned with the perfect execution of the Word of God, and we see that in his mindset. Saul was confronted by Samuel and shown his error in taking the livestock as spoil and keeping the Amalek king prisoner, yet Saul believed that so long as he took the animals to Gilgal and offered them as sacrifice toward God that he would still find favor with God. The disobedient have a mindset that God is not interested in details and so long as they mean well God will forgive their error. I don’t have time to dissect all the flaws in this logic, but this mindset is prevalent in many today that claim the title Christian. God does not see a deviation from his plan as acceptable, let alone permissible given certain circumstances. Yet the disobedient are such because they do not fear God nor do they understand the importance of living on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. In their minds, God loves them and will be okay with whatever they do so long as they “sacrifice” by repenting and asking God’s forgiveness. What the disobedient with this mindset don’t understand is that you cannot truly receive forgiveness from God with this mindset…. Until you recognize that your life is sinful in the eyes of God and TURN from it (because that’s what repentance is) God will not forgive disobedience simply because we ask Him to.
3.) The Repercussions of Disobedience – When someone adopts the mindset of “I can live my life how I want and God will be okay with it as long as I’m sorry later,” they must reap what they have sown. In their minds, their error is small and causes no real harm to the cause of Christ. Yet, Verse 23 says that deviation from God’s instructions is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. The cost of disobedience is not an unrepentant prayer that smooths things over with God. The cost is much higher. Ignoring the Word and Will of God is the same as worshiping Satan, who similarly disregarded God and sought to usurp the throne of Heaven and be praised above the Creator. Additionally, one does not disobey without pride. In the belief that WE KNOW how God REALLY wanted us to fulfill His instructions, we become stubborn to the Word of God and resist it every time we hear it. This stubbornness proceeds to erase the God of Heaven in our hearts and replaces Jehovah with a false idol whom we assume the LORD to be. Furthermore, this distorted view will only result in further enmity between us and God, which until rectified will prevent God from hearing our prayers due to the accumulated iniquity regarded in our hearts.
Disobedience is not thought of in biblical terms by the vast majority of those that do not follow God’s Word and Will. They believe it to be a minor infraction that does not change the bearing of their standing with God. However, even the smallest of deviations from the instructions of God is as serve in the sight of God as witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry. Any disobedience drives a wedge between you and God that severs your relationship with Him. Obedience is far better than any sacrifice that can restore your standing with God after disobedience. Even after the relationship has been mended, you have lost all the time, potential growth and advancement that you could have attained if not for your error.
When we are obedient there is not loss, only gain. No matter how much we think we could do for the Glory of God with our choices, the best alternative (by a landslide in comparison) is simply to trust and obey.
Your fellowservant in Christ,
Bro. Jordan Foster