So, I was reading the Bible this morning and I hit I Samuel 13-16. It’s the essentially inclusive story of King Saul’s rise and fall. As many times as I’ve read it before, I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so completely all that Saul did that indicated his character was in trouble:
13:9–he offered sacrifices as though he were the priest
14:2–he led his armies into retreat and then… sat there
14:19–he finally asked the priest to inquire of God and then… he told him to stop before an answer came
14:24, 39–he made some pretty rash vows… then broke them.
15: 8-9–he directly disobeyed God’s orders and didn’t stop his men from disobeying either
15:12–set up a monument… to himself
The rest of 15–pretty much blames everybody else for his actions
There’s more, but you get the picture. His heart’s not “after God’s” at all. And God’s quick to have Samuel tell him He has found a man who is. (Yes, David is pretty much known for his sin. The difference? Repentance. A story for another day.)
Interesting that throughout Chapter 15 (v. 21 is an example), Saul refers to God when he speaks to Samuel as “the Lord YOUR God.” Once, he says “THE Lord,” but he never says, “MY Lord.” Hm. Think that’s what got him into trouble?
It all got me to thinking about what Samuel says in 15:22-23 (CEB):
“Does the Lord want entirely burned offerings and sacrifices
as much as obedience to the Lord?
Listen to this: obeying is better than sacrificing,
paying attention is better than fat from rams,
because rebellion is as bad as the sin of divination;
arrogance is like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected what the Lord said,
he has rejected you as king.”
To my thinking, obedience is about the heart. Sacrifice is about an outward action. Maybe I’m wrong, but doesn’t it seem that way? What good is sacrifice without obedience behind it?
Just last night, we were reading in Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest, and one of the things he pointed out really got me thinking. Is my service truly for God? Is it truly what He is asking me to do? Or is it simply that I looked around, saw a need, then jumped in to fill it without considering if that’s what God wanted. A good thing, yes, but possibly not a God thing. I’m fond of saying “Not every good thing is a God thing.” And guess what… no matter how good it is, it’s not TRULY good unless God is in it. Something to chew on… and something to check my life on for sure.
A few months ago, God called me out of a place I was serving in our church. Why? Because it wasn’t mine. I’d jumped in without asking. I was needed. It was something I was good at. But guess what? It wasn’t mine. Leaving was hard, but there have been blessing in the after, for sure.