6th October 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 15:10-23
Message Alan Burke
Men have this reputation that we are not very good at following instructions. In my case I’d like to say it is unjustified but I’m more than happy to have a crack at something and only if I’m stuck will I give in and look at the instructions or do an internet search for some help, even at times resorting to asking someone for help. While men have a bad reputation when it comes to following instructions there are lots of women I know who are as equally as bad. My intention today isn’t to start a debate on which gender follows instructions better than the other, rather it is to highlight how at times following instructions is necessary. Saul was given clear instructions, we dealt with that on Wednesday and while we may have found them difficult to read they came from the Lord and the expectation was that he would follow them. Saul’s army attacks and there is victory, it soon becomes clear that Saul they had not obeyed the word of the LORD, following his instructions. While everything was to be destroyed, devoted to destruction, the king of the Amalekits is spared, king Agag.
This seems to be out of self interest, by sparing the king it would have made any future adversary look leniently upon Saul as the king of Israel. But along with the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs, everything that was good it makes it clear that Saul had failed to obey the word of the Lord. The Lord required obedience, instead Saul had shown by his actions in allowing Agag to be spared along with the plunder that he was not the leader he should have been.
What we are told here is that the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king (v10). The Lord God knew in advance of all that would take place, he knew when he chose Saul to be his King, yet the Lord was grieved by Saul's failure to listen to his word and He regretted making him king. The tragedy is not lost on Samuel, Samuel was troubled literally Samuel was angry he was filled with righteous anger because of sin and as a result he cried out to the Lord. The reaction of Samuel shows us that he deeply cared, he cared for Saul and he cared that as a result of his sin the Lord would reject him.
In what follows Saul defends himself even though there was the incriminating sound of the bleeding of the sheep and the oxen, Saul was given a chance here to confess his sin to Samual but instead he goes on the defensive. Even if he did not think so what he had done was intentionally disobedient it was going against the very word of the Lord. Saul even tries to sugar coat his sin, I was only doing it for God, to sacrifice them to the Lord, nonetheless this was not what the Lord commanded. And by doing what he did he was saying Lord I knew better than you. After some back and forward between Saul and Samuel, Samuel makes the point that ritual performance is worthless when not accompanied by a sincere and submissive spirit, this is not what the Lord requires, but faithful obedience, Saul may have been sincere in his actions but he had failed to obey, he had been disobedient to the Lord and his word. Saul had heard the word of the Lord but he knew better, he was called to obedience but disobedience was what resulted, we are likewise as the people of God through Christ Jesus called to be obedient, disobedience grieves our God, Jesus said that “If you love me, keep my commands.”, if you love me. What matters is not the sincerity of our actions but obedience that comes out of our love for Christ Jesus our Saviour and his ways.
Q63 Which is the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Exod. 20:12)