19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:19-22
This is an incredible exchange between Samuel, the last judge of Israel, and Saul, the first king of Israel. (It is also where the heading of this series to obey is better than sacrifice/obedience is better than sacrifice has its genesis.) What is Samuel referring to in this exchange? Why is he referring to God as the Lord your God instead of the Lord our God? Did Saul already know in his heart of hearts he had disobeyed God? Let’s take a look at the message God give to Saul through Samuel, the message Saul disobeyed.
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
1 Samuel 15:2-3
The Amalekites were to be punished for their actions centuries earlier. Obviously they had not changed in any way deserving of God’s mercy in the interim as a reading through Judges would reveal. For the Kenites it was a different story, they would receive mercy.
Then he [Saul] said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
1 Samuel 15:6
However, without question Saul and the army of Israel did indeed destroy the Amalekites,
But Saul and the army spared Agag [their king] and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calve and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
1 Samuel 15:9
Samuel continued his rebuke of Saul saying explaining the problem with disobedience
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:23
Then Saul makes a half-hearted attempt at repentance when addressing Samuel – instead of God
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
1 Samuel 15:24-25
Saul admits what he has done, but begs Samuel’s forgiveness, not Gods. He continues with this to Samuel
30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
1 Samuel 15:30-31
Again Saul refers to God as Samuel’s God instead of our God. Plus the real reason in seeking Samuel’s forgiveness is that he wants Samuel to honor him before the elders of my people and before Israel. He was more concerned about what others would think rather than what God thought of him and his actions.
Who do you put first when repenting of your sins, your mistakes? Yourself, what others think, or making yourself right with God? Worth thinking on this Monday as we begin this week.