Tag Archives: 1 Samuel 15

Fat of Rams

Saul disobeyed the command of the Lord to utterly destroy the Amalekites. He saved the best sheep, oxen, calves and lambs. Anything that was good he kept. Anything that he saw as worthless he destroyed. But God commanded everything was to be utterly destroyed.

Saul said the best was spared to sacrifice to the Lord, but that was not what God requested. His disobedience he tried to justify with sacrifice. Samuel said what pleases God is obedience and submission more so than sacrifices. As Hosea 6:6 states: “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings” (NLT). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 ESV).

What God wants from each of us is for us to know Him, to love Him and to obey Him. If we love Him, we will want to know Him more and to obey Him. If we know Him, we will love Him more and want to obey His Word. Sacrifice is important. Sacrifice is part of obedience. But the fat of rams is nothing compared to a loving, obedient heart for God and an intimate relationship and growing personal knowledge of Christ Jesus.

“But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams’” – 1 Samuel 15:22 [NLT]

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Fill Your Horn

King Saul was told to destroy the Amalekites; he was given a command from the Lord. He disobeyed that command and God said, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night (1 Samuel 15:11-12 NIV).

Samuel was greatly disturbed when the Israelites wanted to have a king over them instead of recognizing God as their King. He was upset again when the anointed king would not follow the command of the Lord. He mourned. He went to Ramah and continued to grieve. God asked Samuel how long he would mourn—because there was still more to be done. God was to have him anoint a new king, King David.

There are moments in life when we get stuck in a hole, whether it be the sinking sand of failure or frustration or mourning or comfort (yes comfort), we don’t want to move. We embrace where we are at when God wants us to move forward. God told Samuel to fill up his horn—to get prepared and press onward and accomplish the task at hand. There’s more to be done my friend. Let us keep on keeping on.

“The LORD said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’” 1 Samuel 16:1 [NIV]

Making Exceptions

I have always been a big rule follower. When I was in grade school, I wanted to follow each and every rule, though the no talking rule was definitely a challenge. Today I still try to follow all of the rules that come my way. My motto is “we have rules for a reason.” God created order out of chaos and I prefer order over chaos any day!
Recently at work a co-worker didn’t understand why I would not break the rule for one customer. But there is a great problem with making exceptions. We have a serious issue when the rules get bent a bit for someone or something. When we step out of order, we find chaos.
Saul “made an exception for Agag, and for the choice sheep and cattle.” There was a holy ban, a ban that God required they destroy EVERYTHING. Everything was cursed. Everything was tainted. God did not want any of that to corrupt His special people. But Saul and the army thought they knew better. They made an exception. Today recognize that making exceptions when it comes to God’s Word, bending His commands will only bring chaos. Like Saul and his army, we like to think we know better. Truth is, we don’t. Together let us humbly admit it and quit making exceptions.

“Then Saul went after Amalek, from the canyon all the way to Shur near the Egyptian border. He captured Agag, king of Amalek, alive. Everyone else was killed under the terms of the holy ban. Saul and the army made an exception for Agag, and for the choice sheep and cattle. They didn’t include them under the terms of the holy ban. But all the rest, which nobody wanted anyway, they destroyed as decreed by the holy ban.”
1 Samuel 15:7-9 [MSG]

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Saul did not follow what the Lord had commanded. Samuel told Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him as a result of his disobedience. Saul was hoping that he could get his status to change and as Samuel turned to leave, he reached out and grabbed at Samuel’s robe which ended up tearing. Samuel then told Saul that God doesn’t lie and He will not change His mind. He is not human!

We are all self-centered to a degree. When we are born we have a long period of time where it is all about self gratification. Then we go through a “me phase.” The toys are “mine.” We get older but things do not change where we are suddenly all focused elsewhere and not on self. When there is a group photo taken of your class, your family, your team—who do you look for on that photo? You look for you. In the same way, as you read a book, you have YOUR own perspective that you have while reading. We relate to books about things that we are interested in—things that mean something to us. If I was given a book on auto mechanics or a book on crocheting, I would not even open the book. I would donate it to the library and never see it again.

There is a danger when we consider God as a human. Yes Jesus walked the earth as a human; however, we need to be cautious when we are reading Scripture and when we were going about life, that we do not consider God as a human. There is a tendency to want to consider Him like us. If we can make Him like us—we can change His mind to do what we want Him to do for us.

“And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!” – 1 Samuel 15:29 [NLT]

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Run First, Pray Later

The story of Jonah and the big fish is surely told so very often that it has lost its kick for some people. We like to shake our heads at Jonah, and some people even chuckle at his attempt to run from God. The sad thing is that we are all like Jonah at some point in our lives for we all have moments when we try the “run first and pray later.” Who has not liked what God was asking and held off and did something else? Who thought their way was better than God’s way? Who was directed to do something, but waited to do it or never did it at all? Who does not even listen to God at all to know the plan He has for them?

In Jonah 2, the first verse says, “Then Jonah prayed.” He was already inside the fish. THEN he prayed. See he ran from God, took off in a boat, and the boat was going all over the place in the water. He could have prayed then. I wonder if he foolishly thought perhaps that he could still make it away. He was not praying, and yet the people on board feared they would sink to their doom. The waters had to be rough and showed no sign of letting up, but Jonah went to sleep.

Now when the people tossed Jonah overboard and he is swallowed, perhaps then it was a reality check. I guess I’m not able to hide from God. Perhaps he recognized that there was no hope to get away now. Since there is no hope for him to do something on his own, for him to get away, for his plan to work— THEN he prayed. He got himself into trouble, THEN he prayed. He disobeyed, THEN he prayed.

We run first and then pray later too often. We make our decisions without asking God for His will. We think that by chance we will be able to do something on our own. We hope that our way will work out. When we realize we need God, when things are falling apart, when we do not have everything in place– then we want God to help. It is part of our human nature. We sadly think we know best. For some reason, we think that we have a better plan.

Disobedience is something we all partake in, but there’s hope. As Jonah noted in verse 2:2, God heard him and answered. He goes even further than simply listening, and saves Jonah from the mess he got himself into from not following Him in the first place. He forgives him and helps rescue him so that Jonah can do what he was initially supposed to do.

Life is filled with decisions. We can chose to run first and pray later, or we can decide to pray first so there is no need to run. I do not know your life story, but I know that my own story gives me example after example of the times when I went out for a run, only to come back to pray later. Without God, there is no satisfaction in life. He knows our needs; He has designed our purpose. With praying first and seeking His will, there is no need for our legs to run. Instead, I find that when we do this, instead of our legs getting the work, we are lifting our voices in praise. His plan is so good. He is so good.

“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.’”
– 1 Samuel 15:22 [NIV]