“And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.”
1 Samuel 15:35
With this verse ends what I feel is a very sad, but very instructive chapter in the Bible. Saul had been given instructions from the Lord through Samuel. Instructions to “utterly destroy the Amalekites, and all that they have”. But Saul had spared the king of the Amalekites, and “all that was good,” including animals. And then when Samuel confronted Saul, Saul defended his actions, saying that the animals he spared were to be used as sacrifice to God.
On the surface, this sounds like a good thing that Saul did. Sacrificing to God is honoring Him, so how could it be wrong that when Saul saw these animals, “the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings the lambs,” he thought it would please God to sacrifice them to Him?
If, in fact, that’s what he really had been thinking. ‘Cause it seems pretty likely to me that he might have been planning on keeping those animals for himself, and then only made up the sacrifice story when Samuel caught him.
Samuel’s response to Saul is painful for me to read. Convicting. He said, “Does the Lord delight in sacrifices more than in the obeying of His voice? To obey is better than sacrifice.”
I understand this very well. I remember when my children were little, I might ask them to do something and then I’d go to check on them and find out it hadn’t been done at all. Maybe I would ask them to clean their rooms, and then an hour later their rooms hadn’t changed, but they’d built something amazing with Legos in that time, that now they wanted me to be impressed with, or maybe they had drawn a picture, as a gift for me.
Now, while I might be able to appreciate what they did, it doesn’t change the fact that what I wanted them to do, is still not done. And in addition to that, is the fact that they disobeyed me. While I might enjoy the fact that they drew a picture for me, it took a little of the beauty out of it if it was disobedience.
I had reasons for what I told my kids to do. Bringing me flowers is nice, but what if I told them not to pick anything was because I knew there was poison ivy in the area? I had my reasons for wanting their rooms cleaned, and I didn’t always explain those reasons.
God’s wisdom is everything. He is omniscient and ageless and He loves us. This ought to be reason enough for us to obey, even if we think we’ve got a better idea.
Despite our good intentions, and without knowing His purposes, to obey His commandments ~ this is our all.