"To obey is better than sacrifice," (I Samuel 15:22).
Sunday night, part 2 of "The Bible" will air on the History channel. Last Sunday's episode broke all kinds of records as 27 million Americans watched the first episode. The prophet Samuel, and Saul, the first king of Israel, are two of the characters in this Sunday's episode. Today's text is taken from a tragic moment in their story. Due to disobedience, Saul and his family would lose the monarchy of Israel.
The Amalekites were enemies of the Israelites. They were also a depraved culture that had reached a point where they were morally unsalvageable. God determined to take them out. He would use Saul and the army of Israel to do it. The command from God was to destroy everything. The Israelites defeated them, but Saul spared their king, Agag, and kept some of the spoil. As a result, God decided to take him out, and find "a man after his own heart". David would be the next king, and his family would rule Israel for centuries.
The stories in part two of "The Bible" cover a period in Israel's history that was filled with warfare. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have kept the stories exciting, but have actually toned down the violence. In the series you will see Samuel kill Agag to complete God's instructions. But in the passage in the Bible that records this incident, we are told that Samuel "hacked Agag to pieces in the presence of the Lord." This is one of the moments in the series where we should be glad "The Bible" departs slightly from the text!
Saul's excuse for disobedience was that he was saving the spoil to sacrifice it. God sends a message: "to obey is better than sacrifice". God desires obedience. He looks for men and women who in response to his love long to please him. Mother Teresa used to call it "joyful and willing obedience". Jesus said, "He who has my commands and keeps them, he is the one who loves me." How is your obedience quotient today? Lets put an "O" on our knuckle today to keep us conscious that obedience is what pleases God!