And Samuel said,
“Has 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 listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has also rejected you from being king.”
Comment: This is written as if it were a well known, even early liturgical, passage in common use. It is quoted many times in both the Old and New Testaments. Being a taught statement of the faith would make sense to me as it seems to take the law from something distant and bring it to something very personal. In the scripture there is a repeated call for circumcision of the heart – ie the outward is to become real in daily living. Obedience always wins over sacrifice. Disobedience is very very wrong!
Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the LORD.” And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbour of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”
Comment: Although repentance and confession mixed with faith brings us into a right (forgiven) relationship with God, there are often still legal and real consequences in life on earth. For instance every child born out of wedlock is a real person and a reminder to their progenitors that they are there ‘for ever’ as a reminder and someone needing care. Saul appears to be repentant but he will not be the head of a dynasty of kings. He must bear the consequences of his actions. He must ‘lie in the bed’ which he has made! Already God has another person in His mind for king, which is a decision He is not going to change.
Prayer: Help me to learn from others’ mistakes and from the study of Your ways to avoid the tragedy of having, even though forgiven, to live with the temporal consequences of my sinful actions.