Today’s Scripture: And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

We often hear it said, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” However, that is not the way God wants us to act when it comes to Godly authority. When we are afraid to ask for permission, the reason is usually because we know the answer will be the opposite of what we desire. We then go ahead with what we want to do and hope things work out alright.

This is the situation Saul faced repeatedly. In 1 Samuel 13, the Philistines had assembled to attack the Israelites, and the people were in such distress they hid in caves, rocks, and pits. Samuel had commanded Saul to wait for 7 days until he came. As the time of Samuel’s arrival approached, Saul grew impatient. He commanded the burnt offering to be brought so he could offer it. This was reserved for the priest, but because Samuel wasn’t there, Saul decided it would be alright if he offered it. As he finished, Samuel arrived and condemned Saul, telling him that God would raise up another king in his place.

In 1 Samuel 15, God had commanded Saul to kill the Amalekites and destroy everything. 1 Samuel 15:9 says, “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” After they returned, Samuel came to Saul, and Saul greeted him saying, “Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” Samuel then responded by asking why he could hear sheep bleating and oxen lowing. Saul replied that the people spared the best of the animals as a sacrifice to God. Samuel again condemned Saul for his disobedience.

Twice, Saul had allowed disobedience because of sacrifice. First, he had offered the sacrifice that he was not allowed to offer, and secondly, he allowed the people to take the spoils for sacrifice rather than commanding everything to be killed as God commanded.

Saul asked for forgiveness afterwards, but he was still condemned. We cannot do what we want, come to God wanting His forgiveness, and afterwards, expect to not reap the natural consequences of our actions.  Remember how important simple obedience is to God. Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.