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 God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
“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.’ 19 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.”
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.
Saul blew it: God has asked him to do something and he didn’t do it… he thought he had a better way. And here he is back peddling and trying to convince Samuel he made the right choice.
But worse… I don’t think he honestly knows he blew it.
Saul doesn’t get it that obeying God is better than finagling his own way.
He doesn’t “get” that God wouldn’t totally be “wow”ed by his genius idea and sacrifice.
Bottom line, Saul is convinced that his own way is better than God’s.
… He is convinced that what he has to give to the Lord, is better than what the Lord asked for.
I’m a teacher.
I see it all
and I hear all the excuses… every one.
But recently I had a student that pushed, shoved and tried every ounce of my patience; he insisted he knew how the classroom should be run. He was convinced his way was better than mine. He was convinced he was right. And he was convinced that I should agree.
Loud, interruptive, tenaciously (and righteously) argumentative, he never ‘got’ the fact that it was his insistence that was ruining what the class could have been. Consequently, I had to choose a hard line and be the teacher I didn’t like to have to be: stern, often punitive, unyielding.
And as I read this story of Saul, and think of my student, somewhere deep in the heart of recent discontent, I have that small tickle of shame that maybe – in the bigger picture of God and Life – I have one finger pointing in his direction, and three fingers pointing back at me.
Lord, I don’t want to be “that guy.”…
Help me hear,
help me obey.
Forgive those hidden sins that masquerade as right-ness.
Help me not be so spoiled by your grace that I’ve forget how desperately needful I am of your mercy.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.