Saul was a lousy king. There are just no two ways about it. He was a crudmuffin.
In 1 Samuel 10, Saul gets his first instruction as king. God didn’t ask him to go out and perform some fantabulous deed of derring do, He told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to arrive and tell him what to do. Just…wait. That was it.
But Saul started getting nervous. He didn’t wait. He acted. He unlawfully took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offerings and peace offerings.
In 1 Samuel 15, God told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites. Everything. Every living creature and all their stuff. All means all.
Strike number two for Saul- he destroyed all the worthless stuff and all the people, but he saved the king and all the valuable stuff.
Here’s the interesting part, though. When Samuel showed up and said, “Why did you disobey the Lord?” Saul said, not once, but twice, “I did obey the Lord.”
Why? Because Saul was going to offer some of those sheep he spared in a grand and showy sacrifice to the Lord. He was going to “do great things for God” and, in his mind, that was far better and more glorious than simple obedience to God’s explicit command.
Know anybody like that in the church today?
Women, who, rather than obeying God’s simple command not to teach or hold authority over men in the church, take matters into their own hands and become pastors or teach men in hopes of “doing great things for God.”
Pastors, who, rather than obeying God’s simple command to preach the Word in and out of season, employ theatrics, silliness, and worldly or sinful tactics to build gargantuan churches to supposedly honor God.
Churches and Christians, who, rather than obeying God’s simple command to avoid false teachers and false doctrine, join with them in the name of so-called Christian unity or ministry.
God doesn’t want the great deeds, ministries, or sacrifices you dream up “for Him.” He wants a heart that’s completely His. A heart that loves Him enough to do His bidding even when it’s small and doesn’t bring you any glory. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it’s hard.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17
And that’s exactly the message Saul got that fateful day when he lost the throne:
And Samuel said, “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. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23