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. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Samuel spoke these rebuking words to King Saul. Saul had not done as God had commanded him to do. He was supposed to completely wipe out the Amalekites. Instead Saul saved back the king and the best of the sheep, oxen and lambs–all that was good. He said he was going to sacrifice them to God. This wasn’t the first time that Saul had gone rogue. Samuel delivered heavy words from God: God regretted that He made Saul king and He was going to replace him.
Samuel asked Saul in 1 Samuel 15:19, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?” This is rebellion and it obviously did not play well with God. God didn’t want Saul’s sacrifice, He wanted obedience. Saul rationalized what he did in 15:24, saying he did “because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”
Partial obedience and delayed obedience is rebellion to God no matter how we justify it to ourselves and others. When God tells us to do something, He expects us to obey completely. To God, when we disobey it is worse than us turning to witchcraft (the sin of divination) and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. This is because rebellion opens doors to Satan just like divination or witchcraft does. Both sins cut us off from God. It is better to fear God than to fear people and do things to mollify them.
A spirit of rebellion must be renounced in any way, shape or form. If you short cut what you know God is telling you to do and stubbornly continue in patterns of sin, watch out. You will be disciplined by God because He loves you and has a claim on your life. He will not let you continue down this path.
Samuel also told Saul, “presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” The word for presumption in Hebrew means “seething pride.” That means we think we know better than God. We just act without checking in with God to find out what He thinks about a situation. And then when we find out it was wrong, presumption would be shrugging it off as a little deal, like King Saul did.
David prayed in Psalm 19:13, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” God, show me where I am being partially obedient, slow to obey, and how I am shrugging off sin as no big deal. May I always check with You first and not think “I’ve got this.” Forgive my rebellious heart and change it to be soft, open and ready to listen and to act.
*Image from Symple Arts