Better Than the Fat of Rams
When you were little, what was the most effective way to please your parents?
I’m sure that we will all come up with the same answer, for there is nothing more pleasing to parents than obedient children.
During the early days of Saul’s kingship, when the Spirit of God filled him, he completely submitted to the Lord’s instructions. Therefore, God was with him and enabled him to triumph over his enemies.
But in 1 Samuel 15, we see a very different Saul. Although God had instructed Saul to kill all the Amalekites and to destroy everything they had, he kept Agag, the king of the Amalekites, alive to show off his triumph, as if Agag were a trophy. Saul also allowed his people to keep the enemy’s goods and livestock that were of value. In this way, he could please his people, which was important to strengthen his position. Moreover, he went around Israel after his victory and set up a monument for himself at Carmel (15:12). On top of that, he did not truly repent, even after Samuel had rebuked him, for he was more concerned with keeping his face in front of the people.
Sadly, Saul had already forgotten that God was the source of His success. Hence, he did not fully obey God’s word.
Sometimes, we too pick and choose under which circumstances we obey God.
Like King Saul, we may disobey the word of God because we think that our decision is very reasonable. We may even think that it is for the good of others/the church, just like Saul who said that he wanted to keep the best of the Amalekites’ livestock for burnt offerings.
We may be well-meaning, but we have overlooked that our motives are merely the will of man and not the will of God. However, more often than that, we are simply driven by our own selfish desires. We have forgotten that God is the source of all that we have and are today. We have forgotten that God is sovereign and that, as created beings, we can but obey our Creator.
There are countless real-life examples of instances where we tend to pick only those parts of the word that please us and ignore those that we don’t like or think to be less important: just think, how often have we disobeyed our parents when we did not want to listen to their well-meaning advice, although the Bible tells us to obey our parents in the Lord?
Many of us choose to live apart from our elderly parents, despite knowing that there’s nobody staying with them who can provide companionship and support to them, just because we find it too troublesome. How often have we lied to avoid losing face? How many times have we allowed our anger to turn into hatred or bitterness that would not leave any room for forgiveness? The list goes on.
Knowing that we are prone to disobeying God, what’s the solution?
First, let us always remember who we are:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him…?” (Ps 8:3-4)
When we recall God’s great power and wisdom and that only God is in control of our lives, we will naturally stand in awe before Him and find it easier to submit to Him.
Second, stay humble by constantly drawing near to God, as Apostle James puts it:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Last, but not least, let us continuously nurture our love for the Lord, for love will drive us to please our God. And what more could please the Lord but complete obedience to His word?
“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam 15:22)