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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Selective Obedience (1 Samuel 15:3, 9)

 "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys . . . But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs--everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed."

God is ready to fulfill the promise He made to Moses regarding the destruction of the Amalekites several hundred years before. So, he has his servant Samuel instruct King Saul to attack and totally destroy the Amalekites.

Had Saul taken the time to read the Book of the Law for himself (Deut. 17:18-19) he would have read Exodus 17:14:
"Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven,"
and Deuteronomy 25:17-19:
"Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget" (Emphasis added).
Saul doesn't mind destroying the despised and the weak but he balks at destroying the good. 


Saul makes light of Samuel's instructions. When confronted by Samuel he excuses his incomplete obedience by saying that "they spared the best . . . to sacrifice to the Lord." God is more interested in obedience that he is in receiving the "best" sacrifice. Really, had Samuel not confronted Saul, the best wouldn't have been offered as a sacrifice. He just used that as an excuse to explain his partial obedience.

Several lessons that we can learn from this story:
  • Partial obedience demonstrates complete disobedience.
  • God isn't interested in the "good that we do" as a substitute for obedience.
  • God sees the real motive behind every act of disobedience.
  • God is always working from a larger context than we are (promised destruction of the Amalekites)
God's explanations rarely accompany His commands. But, on this occasion, God had spoken several hundred years before regarding the arrival of this day. Saul's disobedience is flat-out rebellion and it cost him the kingdom. Disobedience always costs more than we think it will cost.


Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 9:35-44; 5:7-10,
1 Chronicles 5:18-22
  • Why were the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh able to defeat the Hagrites?
1 Samuel 15:1-16:23
  • Why does Saul warn the Kenites to separate themselves from the Amalekites?
  • What does this tell you about Saul's knowledge of Israel's history? (Read Deut 25:17-19; Exodus 17:14 to understand what God had promised many years earlier regarding the Amalekites)
  • Why does Saul spare Agag king of the Amalekites?
  • How does Samuel explain Saul's act of disobedience?
  • How does Saul justify his disobedience to Samuel? What does this tell you about Saul?
  • Read John 5:44 and Proverbs 29:25. What seems to be Saul's primary motivation as a leader?
  • Describe Samuel's subsequent relationship with Saul. What does Samuel teach Saul (and us) about God?
  • Why does everyone overlook David as "kingly" material?
  • Describe the effect sin had upon Saul. What does this tell you about sin?
  • How does God use the situation to providentially bring David into Saul's household?
  • What does this tell you about God? About His activity?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to impress more deeply upon your heart the importance of complete obedience.