1 Samuel 15 – one of those baffling parts of scripture.
In this chapter, Saul, king of Israel, chosen and anointed by God, goes to battle against Amalek. God had directed him to do so, and also directed him to utterly destroy everything – people, things, animals, and king Agag – all of it.
Saul went to battle and was victorious, but he didn’t destroy everything. He spared king Agag, the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings lambs, some of the spoil, and all that was good. So, as Button would say, “Now hewe’s a difwicult qwestion for you:” Why didn’t Saul do what God had said?
When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul, Saul blamed the people (always a mark of a weak leader) and said they did it “to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” (side note, why didn’t he say the Lord our God?)
So why did Saul disobey God?
- Perhaps he was doing his will in God’s name?
- Perhaps he wanted to look godly by his actions? The people were used to sacrificing the best things to God. Perhaps this was an appearance thing?
- Perhaps he was trying to please the people?
- Perhaps he was more incentivized to follow the rules (standard was to offer sacrifices from war spoils) than to follow a relationship with God (and the exception He gave in this particular instance)?
Whatever the reason(s) was, we can see ourselves in Saul’s motivation and way of thinking as well. Sometimes we do our will in God’s name (being driven rather than called). Sometimes we do things for appearance sake which don’t line up with what God has said. Sometimes we are driven by a fear of man or desire to please people. Sometimes we pick rules over relationship with our heavenly father.
The story of Saul goes on and the consequences of this decision affect the Israelites for generations to come. We fast forward to the book of Esther and see that the man who planned and nearly implemented a complete holocaust of the Jews was Haman, an Agagite – in other words, a descendant of king Agag. But for Esther’s decision to face death in the eyes, the Jews would not have survived Haman’s holocaust. The near annihilation of Saul’s people was a direct consequence of Saul’s disobedience to God and refusal to destroy everything in the battle with the Amalekites, including king Agag.
And like Saul, our actions also have consequences far beyond ourselves.