1 Samuel 15:13–14: “Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, ‘Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.’ But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?’”

May 24th, 2023 by Pastor Ed in devotional

God instructed Saul to utterly destroy the Amaliekites, but he didn’t. When he greeted Samuel, he began with a nice, spiritual greeting followed by a blatant lie. (Here’s something worth remembering, it is never a good idea to lie to a prophet of God face to face.) Saul knew he hadn’t destroyed all the Amalekites in Israel, that he had saved the best of the livestock, and that he had spared King Agag, all in direct disobedience to God’s command. This was the second gracious test God had allowed Saul, giving him yet another chance at obedience. Samuel’s reply in verse 22 sums up the subject from God’s perspective: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”

The Old Testament sacrificial system was never intended to function in place of living an obedient life. God always desired heart obedience over any ritual sacrifice of animals. Saul’s problem wasn’t just that he neglected some ceremony, but that his heart had become rebellious against God. No amount of ceremonial ritual can make up for resistance to God. It doesn’t do any good to try and sway God by religious observances and ignore our own blindness to God’s demands on our life. Saul’s attitude was that obedience to God was optional.

It is interesting that animals are often more motivated than humans in the area of obedience. I read about a man whose dog had been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained that because he worked outdoors, he often took his dog with him. On the morning of the fire, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, and did exactly that. The fire started in the woods, and the blaze soon spread to the spot where the dog had been left, but he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s command. With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.” May God give us that attitude of obedience to His Word.

LORD, we want to obediently serve You this day, so please give us more grace we ask, in Jesus’ name.”