1 Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
It was the year 1020 B.C. and Israel had been complaining about not having a king. God had provided prophets and judges to rule over them, He had established them and protected them for nearly 400 years and yet it still wasn’t enough.
The slow demise of Israel into a position of rebellion began in compromise.
False gods had been allowed into daily practice, the worship of Ashtoreth and Baal had been Canaanite practices that remained in the land after the conquest of the promised land. Because of disobedience during the purging of the land, many enemies of Israel remained and often plundered the people. The Lord warned the people what would happen if they chose a king as ruler instead of the Lord but their rebellion had brought them into the consequences of foolishness. To appease the people, the Lord appointed Saul as king over Israel.
1 Samuel 8:7 “And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”
The people chose the strength of man over the rule and authority of God.
At Saul’s coronation Samuel the prophet reminded the people of what was important.
1 Samuel 12:20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “Even though you have committed all this evil, do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.”
It didn’t take Saul very long to let the position go to his head. This young man had gone from searching the land to find his father’s lost donkey’s to being anointed king over the Lords armies in a very short period of time. In year two of his reign Saul recognized the need to push back against the enemies of Israel. As Samuel had instructed him (1 Sam.10:8), Saul was to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for the sacrifice of burnt offerings and peace offerings to take place, then Samuel would show Saul what to do. Saul waited the seven days and then chose to perform the offerings himself, since Samuel hadn’t arrived. As soon as Saul completed the offerings, Samuel arrived.
Isn’t just like us, we know the commandment of the Lord and yet we grow impatient. We think to ourselves, I did what the Lord commanded and He didn’t follow through with His promise, now I will take it upon myself to do what I think is right.
When Samuel witnessed Saul’s disobedience, he exclaimed, “What have you done?” (1 Sam. 13:11). Saul’s excuse was that he felt “compelled”.
What compelled Saul to act rashly and disobey the Lord?
Saul’s action of trying to mount a force to drive back the Philistines was an attempt to establish his authority as king. Saul quickly forgot who put him in that position and how his authority was not his own.
What positions has the Lord placed you in? Have you acted faithfully or have you forgotten the authority you have been placed under?
Whether it is our households, our jobs, our church, or neighborhoods…the Lord has placed you in these positions and blessed you for a reason. Out of the blessing should come thanksgiving. In the midst of responsibility should flow faithfulness. In our positions of authority, we must remember we have a greater authority that we are held to, and righteousness is His expectation.
Do we give ourselves reminders for the hierarchy of God’s authority?
The reminders in God’s Word should be written on our hearts, our doorposts, and dwelt upon everyday.
1 Samuel 15:22-23 “And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has also rejected you from being king.”
What deviation of presumption have we been practicing?
We presume many things:
1. We presume that God doesn’t care if we tell small lies, as long as they justify the means.
2. We presume God doesn’t mind if we look at things lustfully, as long as we are faithful to our wives and husbands.
3. We presume God doesn’t care if we react toward others in anger, especially if they did something deserving of our wrath.
Our presumptions are figments of our imagination. We are willing to compromise God’s holy expectations for our lives when we think no one gets hurt. We might think God looks the other way when we sin, as long as we are doing our best. We hope that grace is all we need when living in sexual sin, and just maybe God will bless the relationship if we go to church or read our Bibles.
Sin brings with it consequence. If our foolish ideas lead to ruin, we wonder why God has abandoned us.
When Saul recognized his foolishness, he admitted that he had transgressed the commandment of the Lord because he feared the people more than he feared God.
Saul’s request at that time was for Samuel to pardon his sin and accompany him to the altar that he may “worship the Lord”, but Samuel’s reply said it all.
1 Samuel 15:26 “And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
As Samuel began to walk away, Saul grabbed his robe and it tore. The tearing became symbolic for what God was about to do to Saul.
1 Samuel 15:28 “And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.”
How often have we tried to force God’s hand?
We plan our path with the expectation that God will bless it. We take a job that prevents us from going to church or spending time with our families, and then we live miserably with great riches.
We choose an ungodly spouse, or live with a girlfriend or boyfriend and then suffer by being unequally yoked. Our presumed reliance on Christ is continually in conflict with our ideals and a person that is reliant on worldly philosophy.
The Lord has given us specifics in how to live faithfully and that path is guided by His Moral Law, one that leads us toward righteousness and peace. Our prayers could be focused more toward what is right and true and less about God helping us in our adversity.
Psalm 119:36-40 “Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!”
If we start where God is leading, we will find that our paths lead us toward His purposes and not our own.
Our expectations would change from God rescuing us to God moving mountains that stand in our way. We would go from a people on the defensive to a people who overcome the gates of Hell.
This world lives within the realm of the condemned. The gates of Hell surround them and they don’t know it yet. Like a rancher who baits wild animals into becoming complacent through continuous feeding, the fence slowly entraps them until it is too late. The philosophies of this world are satanic, the entrapment is designed to lead you to Hell.
Are we feeding from the meager offerings of this world, only to find out we are spiritually starving?
Psalm 119:41-48 “Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.”
The world lacks answers to life’s greatest questions. Their rebellion has kept them from knowing Truth and so they lack meaning in life.
We have the answers from God’s Word. We must place that Word in our hearts and dwell upon them. We must commit our way to obedience and not compromise on a single point. If we do these things, we will experience the freedom that is found only in Christ.
We will receive honor before kings, because we have trusted in the Lord. Our testimonies will be to those who also seek these things, and the hand of the Lord will use you to lead others out of their darkness.
Rebellion or obedience? We have been given a choice, it is up to us to decide where to place our hope.