Monday, April 13

Obey gladly and judge wisely

Scripture: 1 Samuel 15-16, 1 Chronicles 5, Matthew 1

1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied, 

“What is more pleasing to the Lord: 

your burnt offerings and sacrifices 

or your obedience to his voice? 

Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, 

and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Observation

In this classic passage, God rejects Saul as king and selects David as the new king.  

In chapter 15, Saul is rejected for disobedience.  He was commanded to wipe out the Amalekites, including their livestock.  But the troops kept the best of everything.  Saul is full of excuses.  He blamed the troops: it wasn’t his fault; “the army did it.”  He rationalized that they kept the best to offer as a sacrifice to God.  Whether this was the troops’ intention, we don’t know.  In Saul’s words, they disobeyed God so they could worship Him—an oxymoron if ever there was one!

Samuel delivers his poetic judgment.  Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Saul is rejected for disobedience, rebellion and arrogance.

In chapter 16, David is selected as the new king.  God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to select one of Jesse’s sons.  One by one, they stand before Samuel.  When he saw the eldest, Eliab, a tall and handsome man, Samuel was sure he was the one.  But God said no.  God doesn’t judge by outward appearance, like we do; God looks at the heart.

God said no to Jesse’s seven sons; only one was left, the youngest who was out tending the sheep.  He was so overlooked that they hadn’t even bothered asking him to the sacrifice!  But God looks at the heart, and David was “a man after God’s heart.”  God’s choice!

Application

Two things:

First, I want to be someone who obeys God.  Last week, I was struck by the fact that how we respond to the people around us often becomes how we respond to God.  The apostle John said, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20).  If we can’t love the person we see, how can we love God whom we can’t see?  And if I can’t obey the person I see, how can I obey God whom I can’t see?  Our human relationships are practice for our relationship with God.  Practice well!

It’s easy, like Saul, to make excuses about obedience.  I want to dump the excuses, and just obey.  That’s what God wants.

Second, I want to be someone who looks past external appearances and sees the heart—or at least tries to.  It is so easy, so natural to judge by appearances.  Like Samuel, I would have picked the wrong guy!  Because I can’t see the heart, I want to lead with grace, and make sure that I begin with positive attributions!

Prayer: Lord, help me to be a man after your own heart, who obeys gladly and judges wisely.