The Need to Make Right Decisions

MEMORY SELECTION: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” —I Samuel 15:22

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Samuel 15:10-16, 22, 23; 16:1

THERE is only one decision that the true child of the Lord should make, and that is to be obedient to God’s instructions. A willingness, and in fact a desire, to be obedient centers around a condition, or state of mind, called humility. Humility has been defined as an attitude of mind that results from a proper appraisal of one’s self when compared with our Heavenly Father or our Lord Jesus. We are as the dust in the balance; we are nothing by comparison. If our minds have been enlightened, we know that we have nothing but that which was received from the Lord. Knowing this, it would seem that being obedient would be very easy for the Christian, but this is not so. Pride and selfishness, which are an inherent part of our makeup and which we have acquired as a legacy from father Adam, constantly push themselves to the fore in our daily conduct. One of the hardest battles of a Christian is to eliminate these two unwanted elements from our character.

Our lesson centers around the experience of Saul. The nation of Israel, until Saul was appointed, king, was a theocratic government. In other words, God directed the affairs of Israel, and he used earthly representatives, such as Samuel, to convey his instructions. The nation of Israel, however, tired of this arrangement, especially since all the neighboring governments were kingdoms. Israel desired to have a king like their neighbors.

This was a terrible shock to Samuel. The scripture in I Samuel 8:6,7 reads: “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” The Lord listened to the people and selected Saul to be their king.

When it came time to inaugurate Saul as king, he could not be found. “Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.” (I Sam. 10:22) Truly, Saul was humble at this point in his life. But it was not long before pride began to assert itself in Saul’s actions. This became manifest when Saul tired of waiting for Samuel to offer a sacrifice to the Lord before going into battle. Saul himself then offered a burnt offering unto the Lord. This was in direct disobedience to the Lord’s instructions.

Then the Lord instructed Saul to “smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (I Sam. 15:3) The Lord gave them the battle, but Saul kept back for the children of Israel the best of the animals and saved the king, Agag. Because of this disobedience, the Lord rejected Saul from ruling over the children of Israel.—I Sam. 16:1

The lesson from this experience of Saul is well summarized in this statement of Samuel: “And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?” (I Sam. 15:17) It was only when Saul was humble that the Lord could deal with him. And this is true with us also. As footstep followers of the Master, we have been figuratively beheaded; that is, our consecration to the Lord involved the death of our own will and the accepting of his only. Disobedience is an evidence that our own will is not dead and that we are not being faithful to our covenant with the Lord.

Sacrifice was offered as an atonement for transgression. The Lord, of course, would prefer obedience, and then there would be no transgression. In this light, how beautiful are Samuel’s words: “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.”—I Sam. 15:22

Dawn Bible Students Association
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