When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the LORD bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the LORD’s command! Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded. “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the LORD your God. We have destroyed everything else.” 1Sa 15:13-15 NLT
Mr. Brown was a stern and stoic music and band teacher. Had I known what he was like I would have never signed up to take clarinet and be a part of the band. He was a task master; there was no fooling around in his class! I was nine years old at the time and that shiny clarinet had wooed me into signing up. I wanted to be able to play it well. I just didn’t want to play the kind of pieces Mr. Brown was assigning. I tried everything I could to get out of practicing those pieces.
One day I had a great idea! I would find something I liked to play and I would practice it all week long, and then on Wednesday during my lesson, I would play my chosen piece. It would be my chance to show Mr. Brown what good music sounded like! As you can imagine, my idea was not well received. Mr. Brown was not a fan of me guiding the lesson. He wanted to be the instructor and he wanted me to be the student. He was not a fan of me doing it my way! My clarinet days were numbered after that little fiasco.
Saul had a similar situation that we can read about in 1 Samuel 15. The Israelites were on a roll; they were finally defeating their enemy. God gave them the next assignment. Go to the Amalekites and completely destroy them. God’s instruction; Take nothing! King Saul led the people into a victorious fight and then he made a fatal flaw. He decided to do things his way instead- not a lot- just a little! They would take the best of the livestock to use as a sacrifice to God and they would spare King Agag. He thought God would be pleased with the sacrifice. It was in that moment; Saul’s day were numbered as king.
Then in 1Sa 15:22 Samuel said these well-known words, “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.”
God did not want Saul’s sacrifice; God wanted his obedience!
God wants our obedience too! So often we attempt to obey part of what God wants. We figure at least I am giving him a little something. God does not want us to tip our hat to him. He wants our whole heart. Later in 1 Samuel 15:7b, God said to Samuel, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
It is all about the heart; He wants it all!