So Samuel said: “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 as 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).
A somber lesson of obedience can be learned from the life of Saul. He was chosen to be Israel’s first king because of his physical attraction and height. He stood head and shoulders above everybody. He was so meek and humble that he didn’t want to be seen and hid himself.
After being anointed king his character flaws came to the surface. Due to his impatience, he intruded into the priest’s office and sacrificed burnt offerings to the Lord. Samuel the prophet was delayed and Saul took matters into his own hands, offering sacrifices that by law only priests could offer.
Saul went to battle without consulting the Lord. And then here in 1 Samuel 15, he directly disobeyed the direct command of the Lord.
The Amalekites had oppressed Israel for many years. God told Saul to attack them and kill every living thing; animals, children, and adults. The Amalekites were detestable idol worshippers and were totally depraved and corrupted.
Saul had spared the best of the animals to sacrifice to the Lord, and had kept Agag the Amalekite king alive as his prisoner. When Samuel came to Saul, he heard the bleeding of the sheep and asked Saul if he had completely obeyed the Lord. Brazenly, Saul told Samuel that he had completely obeyed God when he had not.
Samuel told him that God had removed the kingly anointing from his life that day. Saul immediately began to go downhill mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Obedience to God can never be replaced by our personal sacrifices of time, talent, or possessions. Samuel told Saul that rebellion against the known will of God was paramount to witchcraft. Remember that Satan was once the anoint Cherub that protects, having his beginning as one of the angels of God that protected God’s throne in heaven. Through pride and self-will he rebelled against God’s sovereign rule and was removed from his high office and kicked out of heaven.
Rebellion to the known will of God in our lives open us up to demonic influence today just as it did with Saul. Be sure to humble yourself daily under God’s mighty hand. Daily acknowledge your dependence on Him. Practice instant obedience. God judges spiritual sins of pride and self-will more quickly than sins of the flesh. When we do things that hinder God’s people and His plans for them, God doesn’t take it lightly.
Let Saul’s life be a lesson to us all of the great price of disobedience. It may take years to play out in real time, but disobedience will eventual bring ruin to a promising life. Let’s give the Father our best today!