“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 an 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)
Ouch! This is a strong word from the Lord. And to think I came across it because I looked up the word “delight” in my concordance!
Notice the paradox: “delight” is juxtaposed against witchcraft, rebellion, stubbornness, idolatry…Yikes!
Let’s put this scripture in context.
Saul is set to be king. The Lord told Saul to attack the Amalekites and to not spare any living thing – not even the oxen and sheep. But Saul tweaked the instruction of the Lord. He and the people took Agag king of the Amalekites alive along with the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs and all that was good and “WERE UNWILLING to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” (verses 8 & 9)
Saul was so proud of himself! My, what a mighty warrior he was!! He went to Carmel and set up a monument in his honor. When God sent Samuel to talk to Saul about his sin, Saul greeted Samuel with, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord”(verse 13). He was completely oblivious to the seriousness of his sin.
Can you smell the pride? Samuel’s response cracked me up. He said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen I hear?” (verse 14)
Now Saul’s answer is key to what I believe the Lord wants us to understand. Saul said to Samuel, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” (verse 15) Sounds like a good plan, right?
But that is NOT what God had commanded him to do. God had clearly instructed him to “utterly destroy EVERY living thing” because of the consuming sin of the Amalekites.
How often do we set out to obey God and then, very casually, tweak it?! I KNOW!! Far too often! We hear clearly what the Lord has spoken to us, but then we get an idea that we think will enhance the original plan. Or maybe our idea creates less static, you know, its the easier solution – it makes everybody happy.
Everybody but the Lord!
Was God upset because Saul and the Israelites made a mistake? Was He upset because they had not understood what He told them? Absolutely not. The Lord was upset with Saul because of his blatant – intentional – disobedience. Remember, the scripture said they were UNWILLING to do as the Lord had commanded.
We serve a merciful God, a loving Heavenly Father Who adores His children. He is not offended when we do something wrong because of misunderstanding. But, too easily, we forget that He is the Sovereign Lord, the Lord God Almighty! Too easily we put Him back in that gilded box where discipleship doesn’t cost anything.
I know. That was hard for me to hear too.
The Lord takes great delight in an obedient heart, a life fully surrendered to Him.
Father, Wow!! That one was tough. But I see the necessity of the lesson. We must always understand Who You are in light of who we are, especially, I think, when we know You well and walk very closely with You. I desire an obedient heart – one that counts the cost of discipleship. I desire to please You in all things, to honor You with my life. Lord, I desire to be a delight to you.