“And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (1 Samuel 15:14).
Samuel, a prophet and judge of Israel, gave King Saul the Words of the Lord concerning Amalek. Samuel instructed King Saul, according to the Word of the Lord, to go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they had and spare them not, “…but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Samuel 15:3). King Saul was to utterly destroy everything and spare none. However, Saul spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and Saul allowed the people to spare the best of the sheep, ox, etc. and even “all that was good,” but destroyed the “vile and refuse.”
God came to Samuel and related the consequences of Saul’s rebellion to His Commandment to destroy all of the Amalekites, everything. God sent Samuel to go see King Saul to tell him of God’s Word concerning God’s rejection of him to be king over Israel, because of his rebellion to God’s Commandment concerning the total destruction of Amalek.
When King Saul saw Samuel, he said, “Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” (1 Samuel 15:13b). But, he had not performed the commandment of the Lord. Then Samuel, God’s Messenger said, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (1 Samuel 15:14). King Saul knew he was caught in his disobedience to God’s Commandment and began to make excuse.
As before, Saul blamed the people. Saul said, “But the people took of the spoil…to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.”(1 Samuel 15:21) Then Samuel quoted the now famous Words of God:
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:23-24)
The application for us is to learn that we must obey God. God is always watching our performance. The cost of disobedience was great for King Saul. The Holy Spirit departed from Saul; an evil spirit was sent to trouble King Saul; God would not answer Saul in prayer, and Saul turned to witchcraft to find his answers. He knew he would lose the kingship over Israel, and he finally committed suicide on the field of battle. He and three of his sons died on the battlefield; their heads were cut off; and their bodies hung up on a wall of the enemy for all to see.
Moses wrote in Numbers 32:23b, “and be sure your sin will find you out.” Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7-8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption…”
As with King Saul, the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen told on him; so it is with all of God’s children that disobey God’s Commandments. The first response when we are caught in our rebellion is to say, “…I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me… But the people…” (1 Samuel 15:20-21). We say, “We did right, God. But it was my family; it was my employer; it was … the other fellow; it was my neighbor.” When we are caught in our rebellion to God, we try to cover our own tracks and place the blame on others. Saul finally admitted to Samuel, “…I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:24)
This may be your problem, the fear of not being accepted. So as a Christian, you take that social drink of liquor, you act and talk like your unsaved friends, because you do not want to be different; you do not want to stand out as a Christian, a Christ lover and follower. You want to be accepted or popular. You let your guard down at work and listen to the filthy talk.
You know God’s Commandment to be holy and to be separate from this world’s fellowship (1 Peter 1:13-16; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). But it is hard to be different; not to be different to be different; but to be different in your attitude, actions, and attire, because the Word of God says to be different. Different as Jesus Christ was different, “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners…” (Hebrews 7:26). Even the Apostle John records, “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60) “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:66). What Jesus had been teaching His disciples in John 6 was the “must” of “eating His flesh” and “the drinking of His blood.” Jesus told them that He was “the Bread of Life” and that they were to totally dedicate themselves to wholly follow Christ in body, soul, and spirit. But this would make them different than their peers.
Obeying Christ will make you different. That is following Christ before your flesh; before anything in this world. To do this you must forsake all, even your own life also, and follow Him (Luke 14:26-33). You must count the cost of following Christ and His Commandment of Love (Matthew 22:37-40), or the cost of not following the Commandment of Christ as King Saul experienced (1 Samuel 15:23).
Child of God, stop your excuses; stop your disobedience to God in whatever area of your life that is not in line with God.
And Samuel said, 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. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Because the sheep and oxen will tell on you, even when you try to say you did it for God.
(This devotional was previously posted on January 3, 2011.)