By Toni Ford
Lately, I have been reading in the Book of First Samuel. I recently read Chapter 15, which is a pivotal chapter in the story of King Saul. The Lord gave Saul another opportunity to prove himself, but he failed again and lied about it and was judged. Saul had a habit of making excuses instead of confessing his sins. He was far more concerned about looking good before the people than being good before God.
From the beginning, this chapter grabbed my attention, for from it I found there to be numerous life principles which can serve as important reminders for me today. First Samuel 15 might easily become one of my “life” chapters, one that I will refer to often when I need to be reminded how to live out my day to day. As I read and re-read this chapter, here are some of the “life principles” that stood out to me.
Obedience to God or pleasure to self. First Samuel 15:9 says, “Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs – everything, in fact that appealed to them.” The Lord, through Samuel, had instructed Saul to completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation for their opposition and treatment toward the Israelites. Rather than obeying all the Lord had instructed, Saul decided to keep some things that “appealed to them.” He was more interested in adding pleasure to his own life than complete obedience to the Lord. Life principle: Complete obedience to God brings far more lasting fulfillment than seeking after the things of the world which appeal to only me.
Well done, my good and faithful servant. This phrase actually comes from Matthew 25:21 when the master replied by saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” As a believer, I long to hear the Lord say those words to me when I arrive in heaven. Twice in this chapter, the Lord says to Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Life principle: Is the way in which I live my life glorifying God or myself?
Relationship over religion. Verse 22 says, “What is more pleasing to the Lord, your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?” Sacrifices unto the Lord were important in their time and foundational to their relationship with God. However, the heart in which they offered those sacrifices was far more important than the rituals themselves. Life principle: Am I more caught up in completing religious practices or am I more concerned with the condition of my heart in which I participate in religious practices?
Fear of God or fear of man. Verse 24 tells us that Saul admitted to Samuel that he disobeyed his instructions because he was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. It is so easy to let man’s voice and man’s opinions of us dictate how we live our lives. Saul wanted desperately to be admired and popular among the people, so much so that he would follow what the people told him to do rather than what God had told him to do. This mindset is what finally cost Saul and his sons their lives. Life principle: What voice am I listening to the most – God or man?
Father, thank you for Your Word and for teaching us through the life of King Saul. We ask You today for the wisdom to be aware of these life principles. Thank You for Your grace and patience towards us as we walk through this life. We confess today our need for You!
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