1 Samuel 15:18-21
18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction 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 pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”
20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction.
21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
Saul has a horrible case of “Hear-what-I-want-itis” when he talks to Samuel here.
|What Samuel Says||What Saul Says|
|Kill everything||We killed only the diseased and worthless|
|Leave nothing alive||We brought the best animals back alive|
|God doesn't need your sacrifices||Won't God love these sacrifices?|
And of course God doesn’t like it at all when people do their own thing and say that is what “God” wanted them to do.
22 And Samuel said,
“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 listen than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”
Do you see what he said there? Rebellion, in this case religiousness is like being a witch or a sorcerer. How is that? Well, the main problem with sorcery is that the wizard is putting himself in a position to control supernatural powers. When a person does a religious act to force God’s hand, that’s just like trying to be a wizard.
Saul is trying to make God like him, or to earn something from God. What God wants is to be who He is, ruler of the galaxy. He doesn’t need the religious activities nor is He swayed by them.
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 bow before the Lord.”
Oh man! Do you see what he did there?! I’m sorry for being overly religious, now forgive me so I can keep being religious! Look at how pious I am as I seek forgiveness for my piety!
This whole idea of doing what we want to do and saying that it’s what God wants us to do is really striking to me. I wonder if we have become so trained to do our own thing, to follow our own will, that we don’t even know what it feels like to be led by God. I’ve experienced several things this summer where somebody was making a horrible decision, but they said that God was leading them to make it.
I think I would have believed it if they hadn’t hidden those decisions behind so much piety!
May we be thankful for the works that Jesus’ death freed us from, and may we take hold of the simple, submissive life He has given us! No magicians here, just servants!