Do you ever think that you know better than God?

1 Samuel 15:12-35

12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”

14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”

“Tell me,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the 
he has rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”

Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”

33 But Samuel said,

“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”

And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And
the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Cross, Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, Daily Devotion, Obey

The Bible is full of stories of people being commanded by God to do something… and they decide to do something else. And it turns out kings are no different.

After God commands Saul to devote all of the Amalekites to destruction, we see that Saul had other ideas. He spares their king, and he spares the best of their sheep and cattle.


And then, when Samuel calls him on it, he does what we all do: he goes into excuses mode, and blame mode. “The SOLDIERS brought them from the Amalekites; THEY spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but WE totally destroyed the rest.”

He claims to be innocent. But he’s meant to be God’s king. He’s meant to obey God, and he’s responsible for what his people do.

So when Samuel asks him, ‘Why didn’t you obey God?’, really the answer is… Saul thinks he knows better.

He thinks it’s better to keep a king prisoner for his own glory. He thinks it’s better to return from battle with a long line of sheep and cows. He thinks it’s better to decide for himself what he should and shouldn’t do.

He thinks there are better things to do than obey God.

While we’re not kings, and we’re not being commanded to lead soldiers into battle, we still face decisions like Saul does every day.

Listen to God… or don’t listen to God.

Trust that God knows best… or decide for ourselves what’s best.

Obey… or disobey.

In the way we treat our families, the way we work, the way we talk to our friends, the things we think about when we’re alone, and the things we choose not to do because they’re uncomfortable. We constantly have to decide whether to obey God or not. And just like Saul, we often choose not do. We think that we know better than God.

In response to Saul’s disobedience, God takes away his kingship. Soon he will anoint David as his king.

But in the long run, even David is just another king who falls short. It’s not until much later that God appoints a king who always listens, and always obeys. Jesus is the king who lives God’s way. And while Saul blames his people for his sins… Jesus takes the blame for his people’s sins.


Head: Often we don’t obey God because of fears and insecurities—we try to protect ourselves from embarrassment, or shame, or things going badly for us. What does it look like to care more about God’s plans than our own?

Heart: Do you ever resent God’s call to obey him? How does knowing Jesus make a difference to the way we feel about obedience?

Hands: What are the areas of your life where you find it most difficult to trust and obey God?

Prayer: Dear God, we know that your ways are different to ours and your plans are greater than ours. We’re sorry that we disobey you because we forget your priorities, and think we know better. Thank you for sending Jesus, who was perfectly obedient, to live perfectly for us and die in our place. Help us to obey you with hearts that trust you. Amen.

A song to listen to: Bring Us Back

Mick Wust- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- South Bank