“Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over His people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."
"But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.”
1 Samuel 15:1-3, 9-- NIV
As I prayed this morning prior to reading the above scripture, pouring out my soul before my Father, asking for answers to many questions concerning the Church and my own life before God, waiting for His response; I concluded by acknowledging that His answer is His Word. I had no idea what scripture I would be reading today or what I would be taught. Real growth comes from being able to see ourselves in light of God’s Word.
Saul was a very insecure man even before he was chosen as king of Israel. His ascension to the throne as the very first king of Israel came about by Israel’s rejection of Jehovah as their King. (1 Samuel 8)They wanted to be like all the other nations, even though God wanted them to be a peculiar people. He wanted them to be a standout for Him before Gentile nations. They wanted to blend in. Saul had such a low estimate of himself, that when Samuel went to crown him king they found him hiding among the supplies (1 Samuel 10) please read also chapter 9 and the ensuing chapters through to our text.
God had given a direct message to king Saul through the prophet Samuel: Destroy everyone and everything. This was God’s judgement against the Amalekites for their treatment of Israel. Saul and his men decided to do the opposite of what God had commanded. Under the guise of "saving the best for a sacrificial offering to God", they had willfully offended and disregarded Jehovah’s directive. They were so pleased with themselves that Saul even set up a monument in his own honor. Let’s continue reading:
“Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.” When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord “your”(emphasis added) God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” 1 Samuel 15:10-15 NIV
When God told him to destroy everything, that command was not up for discussion. Whatever God tells us to do comes with a purpose; that purpose is intended to show His authority to kill and make alive and to bring reverence to His Name. Vengeance belongs only to Him because He alone knows hearts. We see only from a natural human perspective, we judge based on partial information, never actually knowing the whole story. Unless we have inside knowledge of the situation we will need to trust that God knows what He’s talking about and follow His commands. Saul and his men didn’t save the enemy king and the best of the cattle for God, they wanted the best of what they saved for themselves. Since king Saul had authority over his men, they did what he wanted. He was brazen enough to tell Samuel he had obeyed the Lord “your” God completely. He basically said “I did what your God, not mine, wanted.” No wonder he set up a monument to mark “his”achievement. I wrote in the column of my Bible: Disobedience, and thinking that you’ve gotten away, breeds arrogance. Low self esteem will make you into a people pleaser. Saul was dependent on man’s approval to boost his self image. He cared more about his image and what people thought about him than pleasing God. He continued to, despite the evidence, believe that he had followed the Lord’s instructions completely. Self deception is a dangerous thing. I searched my heart before God, reading this scripture. I never want to lie to myself- Thinking that because I’m doing what He has commanded me to do, that I’m obeying completely, while holding on to pride in any way. I’ll always leave room for the Word to read and correct me. 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Saul was not open to correction or change until he was faced with the total judgement of God. And it wasn’t even a sincere repentance. It was still about “Saul” and his image. True repentance happens when we acknowledge that we’re wrong. We have to Take responsibility and be honest with ourselves in the sight of God. We will never grow hanging on to our rights. True humility comes through receiving correction, seeing ourselves in light of God’s Word, then we agree with God and His assessment of our lives. I wrote this in the column of my Bible after reading verse 30; Lord help me not be Saul, protecting my image, but a David protecting Yours. Our self image must be a reflection of His. I found these scriptures to be very humbling. We can read the verses and miss seeing ourselves in the characters. I don’t want to fail at what I’m teaching. I want to be that living epistle. Correction is never pleasant, but it’s very freeing. Let’s continue reading:
“Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And He sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
1 Samuel 15:16-21 NIV
Self deception: He actually told of his disobedience in the same breath of stressing how he had completely destroyed the Amalekites with the little three letter word “and.” He allowed pride to distract him from his purpose. Total obedience is what God demands. We don’t have wriggle room. I know that sometimes these messages are hard. I’m the first partaker. God wants the best for us. He wants us to be His standout Church. He wants us to be examples of His Grace. He wants us to lead from a place of humility without being weak. He wants us to be bold without being arrogant. To be strong without being overbearing. He wants us to be perfect, not by our efforts but through Christ in us. He doesn’t want us lying to ourselves, but walking in truth -His Truth. Authentic Christianity is what He’s after. Whatever we do in our efforts will lead to pride. Whatever we do by His Spirit leads us to humility and total victory. We don’t want to end up like Saul: Chosen, but rejected. He kept referring to God as YOUR God, we can’t speak for God while walking in disobedience, he knew he had sinned. Let’s conclude our reading:
“But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.” Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!” As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He is not a human being, that He should change His mind.” Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord. Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.” Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.”
1 Samuel 15:22-33 NIV
Finish the assignment God has given you. Even if it’s unpopular or harsh by the world’s standards. God has His reasons, and it’s not open for discussion. We’re called to total obedience. I’d rather die trying to measure up to what He wants than live doing what feels good to the masses and my flesh. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18. I’ve received my correction. I pray you have too. Whatever isn’t growing, no matter the appearance of life, is still dead. The sin of pride is so subtle, it wears many disguises. We’d be wise to guard ourselves against it.
Merciful loving Father, in the Name of Jesus I thank you for not allowing me to walk in self deception. I open my heart and ears to hear and receive correction to aid me in my growth in Christ. My desire is to please You so that I can be a blessing to others. As I continue to grow and mature in my spiritual journey, help me know that this walk isn’t a sprint but a marathon. I repent for seeing through my shortsightedness and ask to be given Your eyes, ears and heart. Help me guard my heart against pride, whatever form it may disguise itself in. In Jesus Name.
History teaches us that when the church seeks to be culturally acceptable, it’s in danger of losing its flavor as the salt of the world. If that were to happen, Jesus said it would be “good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Mt. 5:13) B. Scott
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit