We must obey God, rather than men. Acts 5:29
The Old Testament is rich with stories about people’s obedience and disobedience and the consequences. Even Moses, whom the Lord knew FACE TO FACE (Deut. 34:10) was banned from the Promised Land because he disobeyed God by striking a rock instead of speaking to it. (Num. 20:11-12)
Another example of disobedience and its dire consequences can be found in I Samuel 15. Saul was king at this time, and God instructed him to strike the Amalekites, and utterly destroy all they have – put to death man, woman, infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. Saul and his men defeated the Amalekites, and captured Agag, their king, alive. Except for Agag, they destroyed all the people – but they kept the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings and lambs and “all that was good.”
Can you see what happened here? Saul thought he knew better than God. God instructed him to UTTERLY DESTROY all people and all animals. Saul kept Agag alive and kept the best animals for himself. As a result of Saul’s disobedience, God spoke to Samuel and said “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not carried out My commands.” (I Sam. 15:11) When Saul and Samuel met the next morning, Saul very proudly told Samuel that he had carried out the command of the Lord.
I love Samuel’s response! “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of oxen that I hear?” Saul answers that the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel reminds Saul that God instructed him to fight against the Amalekites until they were exterminated, and asks, “Why did you not obey?”
Saul answers, “I did obey…I brought back Agag and destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil… to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
Samuel responds to Saul with these very important six words:
TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE.
And then brings the bad news: “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”
Wow. This is such a powerful story. I can see myself in Saul in so many ways. Can you? I love how Saul tried to blame “the people” – on two occasions, he tells Samuel that “the people” took the spoils for an offering. He is king, and he passes the buck!! Don’t we do that with God sometimes? We blame others instead of accepting responsibility for our sin.
I also am guilty of partial obedience like Saul – “partial obedience” is the title my Bible gives this passage. But we can see that partial obedience is really disobedience. Not doing all that the Lord commands is disobeying Him. I know I sometimes think I know better and obey God half way, and then obey my flesh. That’s disobedience!
We can obey God because He can be trusted. He is God, and He knows what He’s doing. Proverbs 3:5 tells us
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Our understanding is limited, but His is not.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your way My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways. Romans 11:33
This simple little song that many of us learned as children is a good reminder of how we need to live every moment…trusting, and obeying.
Trust and Obey
Words by John H. Sammis
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can remain when we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.