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What Does it Say?

1 Samuel 15:10–26 (NKJV) Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night. 12 So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” 13 Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”15 And Saul said, “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.”16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.”17 So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? 18 Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?”20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as greatdelight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, Andto heed than the fat of rams. 23  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.” 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

 

What Does it Mean?

This portion of scripture is an historical record of Saul, the King of Israel. and Samuel, the prophet of God.  The prophet has heard directly from the Lord that the King has not obeyed His instructions in battle. This troubled Samuel, and the Word says, “…he cried out to the Lord all night.”

In the morning, Samuel goes out to speak with Saul and is told the King has gone and set up a monument for himself. Upon finding Saul, it becomes apparent that Saul does not even realize he has disobeyed God and declares to Samuel that he has fulfilled God’s commandments.  Samuel then begins to point out that it isn’t so and shows him how he failed to obey God’s instruction leading Saul to explain that he did obey the voice of the Lord, and fulfilled the mission, then shifting blame to the people. He says, in verse 21, “But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

In the end, this is a tragic failure on Saul’s part and a heartbreaking moment for Samuel, as the prophet declares, “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.”

Ultimately, the leadership role of being King is taken away from Saul, and Samuel has the responsibility of being the one who declares, it even though he deeply loved Saul. The comparison of the two men walking out their calling is staggering.  Saul explains away his rebellion as a result of what “the people ” did, showing his lack of fear of the Lord and honor for the word of God over the word or expectation of people. Simultaneously, we see Samuel obey God even in the painful moments of having informed Saul, a leader and a beloved person to Samuel, that he was walking in rebellion and stubbornness and the cost of this would be heavy.

The clear call is for people who follow Jesus is to obey God in all that we do. We must avoid the deception of thinking we are obeying by partially obeying His directives, but wholly obey His commandments.

 

What Does it Mean to Us?

This passage teaches us many things, however, the primary lesson to learn here is that in order to fulfill our callings, we must obey Him.  According to Ephesians 2:10, we know we are called by God to fulfill the good works that he prepared for us beforehand. We must be diligent to hear and obey what God instructs us to do, being mindful that to disobey or to partially obey is rebellion. It must be our primary aim to hear what God is saying and to do it.

Jesus speaks of this pointedly in Luke 6:46-49 as describes the difference between those who just hear the Word and those who hear and obey the Word of God. Paul also warns in Titus 1:16 about those who profess to know God but deny Him in works, thus becoming disqualified for every good work. The premium must be on hearing God and obeying Him in all things.

In order to receive direction for your calling, you must learn to hear God and obey Him in all things, thereby being led by your Good Shepherd to the places and opportunities in life that will place you in the calling He always planned for you. This includes quickly repenting when we miss it, knowing He forgives and will direct us ever forward.

 

Response

I want to encourage you to place your primary focus on knowing God personally and intimately.  To remind yourself that you, on your own, can never find nor fulfill the calling of God for your life. The plans that God has for you are designed by Him perfectly for you, and He will lead you to fulfill it.

Understanding that hearing and obeying God is the way we receive direction for our calling and also how we fulfill our calling, causes us to walk in peace and confidence and keeps us from the fear of men, which is a trap to keep us from actually fulfilling our calling.

I encourage you to come before God, acknowledging that He alone is the one who designed you, called and appointed you, and the One whom you long to please. Repent for any disobedience, rebellion, or selfishness, and ask Jesus to again lead you as your Good Shepherd into your calling and to continue to guide you to fulfill it.

Continue to meet with God and remain vitally connected to Him through prayer and the word. And be sure you are obeying the directives He gives you personally. He is able to finish what He started in you, so rely on and trust Him!