Obeying Is Harder Than Serving

Or “What I have been thinking about Saul in 1 Samuel since finishing the book”

First, I don’t mean to say that serving the Lord is completely at odds with obeying him. After the Israelites confess their sin in asking for a king, Samuel tells them “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Sam. 12:24) We should serve the Lord. But it is sometimes (and perhaps even often) easier to choose to serve God the way we want to than to consider what would be the most obedient way to respond to his call.

Later in chapter 13, Saul disobeys the specific orders that God gave him through Samuel (1 Sam. 10:8, 13:8-12). Because Saul did not keep God’s command, though a seemingly small one, God found “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14 – to be David) to rule in the place of Saul. Even after this, when God again orders Saul to totally destroy everything of the Amalekites, Saul does not, but spares Agag the king and the best of the livestock, which he then sacrifices to God.

Ahah! He was disobeying God, strictly speaking, butbutbut… he was sacrificing the choice fruits of his disobedience to God anyways!

22 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.
23 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.” (1 Sam. 15:22-23)

I will now be infuriating and not write about what obeying the Lord entails; I am still trying to figure it out myself.

[It is difficult to write a post about obeying God, because it means that prior to this, you yourself have been thinking about what costs there may be to your obeying him.]


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