In 1 Sam 15, Samuel confronted Saul about not obeying the Lord’s command to utterly destroy Amalek. When Samuel first came to Saul, Saul said, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord,” [1 Sam 15:13]. And even after Samuel charged Saul with not obeying the word of the Lord, Saul repeated his claim, “Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me,” [1 Sam 15:20]. How could Saul have been so wrong and yet think that he was so right?
He didn’t hearken to the words of the Lord – 1 Sam 15:1-3 – God told him to utterly destroy all. He didn’t [1 Sam 15:9]. He spared King Agag, the best of the sheep and all that was good. His actions were so disobedient that Saul said, “… thou hast rejected the word of the Lord,” [1 Sam 15:26]. When it comes to obedience you are never right unless you do everything the Lord commands, the way he commands you to do it. So, pay attention to the details.
He convinced himself that what he did was what God commanded – 1 Sam 15:13 – I don’t think Saul was lying in verse 13; I think he was deceived. He convinced himself that the decision he made to spare the best of the animals and to spare the king would please the Lord. After all, the animals could be sacrificed to the Lord. Because what he had done was good, he thought that he was right. There’s a big difference between doing something you think is good, impressive and right and doing something obediently.
He accepted the opinion and action of others above the command of God – 1 Sam 15:15, 20-21 – and thus he excused himself of any responsibility or disobedience. The people were the ones who took the animals and spared them. But Saul was in the position of authority. He was the king over the people. He was the one who had the responsibility to ensure that the Lord’s orders were carried out as the Lord demanded. When it comes to obedience, you are not right to justify your disobedience because someone else is involved in the decision.
He lifted himself up in pride – 1 Sam 15:17 – he was no longer the man who was little in his own sight. He was now the king and could decide to do as he pleased. Proud people generally think they’re right. You have to be so careful here. Saul’s pride had crept up on him unawares.
He became rebellious and stubborn – 1 Sam 15:23, 11 – what Saul never understood is that he was rebellious. Samuel told him that he was rebellious but Saul never really acknowledged it. He confessed his disobedience, but his subsequent actions continued to demonstrate his rebellion. And he was stubborn. In spite of Samuel’s powerful rebuke, Saul continued on as he had before with no change. When a person thinks he’s right, you can point out his error, transgression and sin and he will stubbornly continue on even more determined than before.
He feared people more than he feared God – 1 Sam 15:24 – often behind this kind of disobedience is another person or group of people. Saul thought he was right because the people of whom he was afraid were satisfied with his decision. He really thought that he had found a way to obey God and appease the people. He was proud of himself. In his mind, he had successfully negotiated the difficult feat of obeying God and satisfying the people at the same time. But no man can serve two masters. If you fully obey the one, at some point, you will disappoint or even enrage the other. You cannot keep them both happy and be right.
Conclusion: here’s the scary thing. Saul’s rebellion and stubbornness affected him the rest of his life. Saul thought he was right to attempt to kill David, to attempt to kill Jonathan, to give his daughter, Michal, who was married to David, to Phalti, to kill the priests, to inquire of the woman with the familiar spirit, and to commit the other sins that he committed against the Lord. He never recovered from himself. If you are disobedient to the Lord in some area of your life, no matter the reason, forget about how right you have been in everything else. Humble yourself, identify the cause of your disobedience, repent and turn to righteousness.