"Obedience is Better"
Passage: 1 Samuel 14:47–15:35
January 31, 2021
Speaker: Eric Naus Series: Kingdom Come – The book of 1 Samuel
Passage: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:35
- Read 14:47-52. These verses recap and summarize Saul’s reign, including comments about his victories in battle, his family relationships, and his ability to recruit many warriors to himself. Yet, this positive “eulogy” is flanked on both sides with tragic stories of Saul’s failures (see chapters 13-14, and chapter 15). In light of this contrast, which is more important to God: worldly fame and success; or simple obedience no matter the cost? When you think about your own funeral, what things do you want people to say about you?
- Read 15:1-9. God directly commanded King Saul to lead the Israelite army in being an instrument of God’s judgment on the Amalekites, wiping out their entire civilization. This type of “holy war” was a vivid illustration of God’s holy judgment against sin (see Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the death of Uzzah, and the death of Ananias and Saphira as other examples), and it was to be carried out according to God’s very strict instruction. No torture, pillaging, or fanfare was aloud, but only swift and total destruction. Despite the extremely serious nature of this command to King Saul, he disobeyed at two points: he kept King Agag alive as a “living trophy,” and he kept the best of the animals alive as plunder. Though Saul and his army carried out part of God’s command, partial obedience is really disobedience in disguise. Do you agree? Can you think of examples in our lives where we act just like Saul, deeming partial obedience to be good enough?
- Read 15:10-15. When confronted by his sin, Saul insisted that he had kept God’s command, whereas the people had disobeyed (see verse 15 where he distinguishes between “they” and “we”). Saul “edits” God’s command to draw a distinction between the people and himself, and then he prides himself in keeping his edited version! Are we sometimes guilty of “editing” God’s commands to make them more to our liking? How so?
- Read 15:16-23. Saul makes a number of “religious excuses” for his sin. He claims that the best animals were held back for sacrificial worship! As Christians, how do we sometimes hide our disobedience behind our “religious activity”? Are there examples of this that you could share from your own life?
- In vs. 22, Samuel insists that, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” What does this phrase mean for us today as we seek to worship God rightly, but also to obey him completely?
- Read 15:24-34. There is hope built into this tragedy. Though Saul’s kingship is torn away from him, Samuel speaks of one, “better than you" who will come (vs. 28). This prediction is fulfilled in part in King David, who becomes the focus of the book of 1 Samuel from this point forward. However, even King David, and his many sons after him, disobey the Lord at many points. One day God will send his Son, King Jesus, who will perfectly obey (see Hebrews 5:8-9). How does Jesus’ obedient life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and sending of his Holy Spirit, enable those who trust in him to become truly obedient to God?
- In what specific ways do you hope to grow in simple obedience to God this week?