During one of our family devotions in Lagos, we studied 1 Samuel 15 and I will like to share some lessons I’ve learnt from that Scripture. I encourage you to read the Scripture as I won’t be narrating the events in details.
1. Samuel told Saul to listen and pay close attention to the words of the Lord.
We should always listen and pay close attention to God’s word. The word of God comes to us through various means: Through the Bible, through dreams, through prophecy, through the Holy Spirit through our thoughts, convictions, peace of mind, conscience, through signs, etc.
2. God gave Saul specific instructions on what He wanted him to do.
God gives us detailed and specific instructions. He will not leave us confused or wondering what to do. God may not give us all the details at once but as we keep on trusting Him, He will reveal to us what exactly He expects from us.
The first time that God called Abraham, He didn’t tell him the exact place He was taking him to (Genesis 12:1). It was when Abraham had set out and reached Canaan that God told him that that was the land He was going to give to his descendants. (Genesis 12:7)
The point is this; God gives us specific instructions to guide us. He may not give us all the details at once but He will never leave us hanging or confused. You may not know or understand everything at first, but you will later if you trust Him. He will always be there to guide us at each stage. Sometimes, he wants us to first of all trust Him and step out in faith before He tells us the details of His plans.
You can also read James 1:5-8.
3. Saul told the Kenites to move away and depart from the Amalekites so that he won’t destroy them along with the Amalekites.
There are some associations, friendships, relationships and places that will hinder you, draw you back or lead to your destruction and you must move away from those people or places for your safety and protection.
Sometimes we give excuses like, “We are just friends,” “We are not that close,” “I am careful how I associate with them,” etc. sometimes these excuses are not valid. There are certain people you MUST move away from, certain people you MUST cut all ties with, certain people you MUST not befriend or associate with and certain places you MUST not be found in for your safety and protection.
4. God commanded Saul to completely destroy everything that the Amalekites had and not spare them but kill man and woman, child and infants, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
Saul totally destroyed all the people with the sword but spared Agag the king of the Amalekites. He also spared the best of the sheep, the oxen and the fatlings, the lambs, and everything that was good. Saul and the people were not willing to destroy them entirely but they completely destroyed everything that was undesirable and worthless.
When God commands us to move away from a place or completely let go or cut all ties with a person, job or anything else, we should not preserve or hold unto the ones we feel are good while letting go of the ones that we feel are undesirable or worthless.
A person or thing may look good to us but in God’s sight, they are not good for us and God expects us to obey Him without trying to reason things out. Don’t try to assume that something is good and approve it when God has disapproved it. God may approve that person/thing for someone else, but if He has disapproved it for you, let it go and obey Him.
- In 1 Samuel 15:21, Saul told Samuel that he spared the best of the things that were to be totally destroyed to sacrifice to the Lord but that is not what God commanded him to do. God did not ask for a sacrifice, He was interested in Saul’s obedience.
God expects the same from us, He wants our obedience not our sacrifice.
Are you holding unto a friendship, relationship, job or anything else because you feel that you want to use it to give glory to God? Maybe you feel that you can use it to lead people to Christ but is that what God asked of you?
The thing that brings glory to God is not your efforts, good works, hard work or sacrifice but your obedience. Sometimes God may not even want you let go of that person or thing, He only wants to know if you’re willing to obey Him.
In Genesis 22, God told Abaraham to sacrifice his only son to Him. God was not interested in the Sacrifice of Abraham’s son, He was interested in Abraham’s willingness to obey Him.
Saul was not willing to obey God. 1 Samuel 15:9 says,
“Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and everything that was good, and they were not willing to destroy them entirely; but everything that was undesirable or worthless they destroyed completely.” (AMP)
Are you willing to do what God has commanded you to do?
- Disobedience will always attract grave consequences. Disobedience costs Saul his kingdom.
Partial obedience is still disobedience. Delayed obedience is still disobedience. Saul obeyed ‘partially’ but it was still disobedience in the sight of God. He disobeyed just once and God regretted making him king. Just one act of disobedience can cost you a lot.
- Saul set up a monument for himself commemorating his victory. What victory?
Sometimes we feel that we have succeeded and even go an extra mile for God like Saul who thought he was doing God a favour by bringing back a sacrifice.
There is no greater victory than obeying God faithfully. If you obey God partially or do beyond what He commanded you to do, you have lost, and you have failed.
- God is not pleased with our sacrifices. He does not need our ‘favours’, help, ‘extra miles’ or good works. He is interested in our hearts and in our willingness to obey Him. God needs you; He needs your heart and your willingness to obey His exact instructions- nothing less and nothing more.
- Even when Samuel reminded Saul of the Lord’s command and brought his sin before him, he kept on insisting that he had obeyed the voice of the Lord, unlike David who acknowledged his sin in 2 Samuel 12 when Nathan brought his sin before him.
Saul was proud and didn’t want to accept his fault and mistake. He could not humble himself and acknowledge his sin and ask for forgiveness.
Pride always goes before a fall. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and ask for forgiveness. When you sin against God, humble yourself before Him and ask for mercy. Let go of your pride, let go of your ego.
- Saul, instead of taking responsibility for his actions blamed his people. He started making excuses saying that he was afraid of the people. A person who cannot take full responsibility for their actions isn’t sorry. A person who is sorry and repentant will not make excuses or blame others but will accept responsibility for their actions.
- In 1 Samuel 15:24-25, Saul finally acknowledged that he had sinned and asked Samuel to forgive his sin and go back with him so that he can worship the Lord. Samuel refused and Saul begged him to at least show him respect and honour in front of the leaders of Israel and in front of all Israel.
Saul was more concerned about his respect and honour. He only apologized because he didn’t want to lose the benefits and privileges he got as a king.
Has someone ever offended you and asked for your forgiveness because he/she does not want to lose the benefits and privileges they get from associating with you? Or have you done so to someone?
Even if a person who does wrong apologizes by kneeling down, crying, begging and looking for every possible way to make it up, they are not truly sorry if they are apologizing because of their selfish motives and desires. They may be acting all remorseful because they don’t want to lose those benefits that satisfy their ego, selfish motives and desires.
Sorry is only the beginning of an apology and not the end. Changed behaviour is the actual apology. It doesn’t matter how many times you apologize. It doesn’t matter if you cry or go to any extent to prove that you’re sorry or show your remorse. True repentance begins from the heart and shows forth in a changed behaviour.
- Samuel still killed Agag. And so, at the end of it all, God did not accept the sacrifice and king Agag was killed and Saul’s kingdom was torn away from him.
Disobedience always makes the journey longer and attracts grave consequences.