Fear God, not man.
When it comes right down to it, that’s what Saul did wrong. That’s why he lost the Holy Spirit. It’s why he was troubled. It’s why he lost the kingship. He respected man’s opinion more than God’s decree.
So, what did I learn from I Samuel 15?
If God commands you to hack Agag into pieces, you better do it. Otherwise, it’s you that will fall apart. Now, I don’t think God is commanding any of us to hack up any Amalekite kings any time soon, but he is telling us to offer a holy sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 says that sacrifice is ourselves.
Jesus says we are to take up our cross.
What if the Amalekite that God wants you to sacrifice to him is….yourself. And, what if you lie about it? Oh, you sacrifice the things that don’t cost, but when the good stuff rolls around…the things of value…you simply act like you’ve offered them up…when, in fact, you haven’t. How do you think God will deal with that?
Well, it’s time that we offer up something that’s costly. That doesn’t mean a few Amalekites won’t escape. It doesn’t mean that we might sometimes slip up and let something pass through our sacrificial gaze. But, when that happens, we won’t lie about it. We’ll face it like a King. We’ll pull out the Sword of the Spirit, and we’ll hack it into pieces. We’ll completely destroy it. Or, at least we’ll try.
If you want to know what that looks like…ask Peter. Ask Paul. They made some mistakes. They let a few Amalekites escape for a while…but when they were confronted with their sin…they didn’t lie. They didn’t shirk. They took responsibility, and they turned around. And, look what they became.
Saul, he didn’t fail because he thought too much of himself. He failed because he thought too much of self and he thought too much of people’s opinions. He didn’t have the sort of faith that says…I won’t offer God a sacrifice that costs me nothing. He didn’t have the sort of faith that says, I will face a giant and slay him if God is on my side. He didn’t have the kind of faith, that when confronted with a terrible sin, openly confessed and sat in sackcloth and ashes.
The question isn’t what kind of heart Saul had. We know that he rejected God, and God rejected him. The question is, what can we learn, and I think it’s pretty simple.
Pick a hero.
Don’t pick Saul.
Turns out, there’s another hero just around the bend.
- Who were the Amalekites? See Deuteronomy 25:17-19; Judges 6:3-4; I Samuel 14:47-58.
- What does I Samuel 15:12 mean about Saul setting up a monument for himself?
- Why did Saul lie in verse 13? Didn’t he know Samuel would know?
- I Samuel 15:17 is something that really struck me. It talks about Saul being little in his own eyes. Was the problem that Saul thought he was too big to obey God or too small to question the people?
- Why did Saul disobey?
- How do we respond to questions about genocide? The question goes something like this. If God is a God of love, as seen in Jesus, how could the same God command genocide in the Old Testament? This can lead to apologetics type discussion or even theological discussions of the continuity of the OT and NT.
- Why did God remove his Spirit from Saul?
- Who got the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?
- Who has the Holy Spirit now?
- Why did God deal with Saul the way he did, i.e., remove kingship and Spirit? David, later, will sin, and God will not remove his Spirit from him. Why not? What’s the difference?
- How do we keep the Spirit? Can we put out the Spirit’s fire in our lives? Can we grieve the Spirit? Can we lose the Spirit? Why would we want to hold on to the Spirit?