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Obedience Takes Courage

King David/King Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:24
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Obedience Takes Courage

What kind of courage is the hardest to find?

1 Samuel 15:1–24 ESV
1 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” 4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction. 10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.” 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 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. 23 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.” 24 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.

The Horror of the Command

This is very hard truth that is shared here.
This could not be more offensive to our 21st century sensibilities.

Why does God command the killing of children and infants?

Elaborate

Unacceptable Responses

The heresy of Marcionism
It must be acceptable because it is in the Bible
God is justified because of the wickedness of the Amalekites
Marcion was a 2nd century heretic that believed that the God of the Old Testament was not the same as the God of the New Testament.
We know from many texts in scripture that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, that there is no variableness or shadow of turning.
Numbers 23:19 ESV
19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Hear O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is One.
The God of the New Testament is the same God of the Old Testament.
While the second response is true, it does not help us alleviate our inner turmoil and dialogue about God’s command to kill children.
And the third response creates a slight inconsistency in our thinking about the killing of children.
Consider the killing of children in the days of Moses by the Egyptian Pharoah.
Is He evil to command such killing because the Hebrew children are righteous?
Was Herod evil when he killed the children in the days of Jesus?
How do we explain their evil when the Lord is commanding the same genocide?
While God has Saul deal rightly and ethically with the Kenites, and that may make us see the moral nature of the fight with the Amalekites, it does not ease our burden over the death of women and children.

Better Responses

Progressive Revelation
Historical and Cultural Context
Progressive revelation is the idea that God slowly, and methodically revealed himself to the world.
With the incarnation of Jesus and the writings of the Apostles we understand God and His plan better than the prophets of old.
They didn’t understand God in the way we do, because of the amazing revelation of Jesus Christ, God in flesh.
The final progression will come with our glorification, at which time we will “see (Jesus) as he is” (1 John 3:2)
Historical and Cultural Context simply means that things we no longer do today were prevalent in days past.
There is a real problem today with judging history based on our current moral climate.
When considering both ideas we get this statement from the Preachers Commentary, “when applying any teaching of the Bible to life, the teaching must be taken at its highest point of revelation. This makes what God has revealed in Jesus Christ the ultimate basis of interpreting the rest of the Bible.”
We now know, without a doubt, that killing children and infants is not what God would have us do.
Look at how the world has changed since Jesus revealed the Love of God to the world!
In fact, God wants us to love our enemies, not destroy them.
Aren’t you glad you are a 21st century christian?
If it is any consolation, the Amalekites are not wiped out, and they come back to fight against David, and one of them even claims to have killed Saul.

God Follows Through on a Promise

The main point of the first half of the passage is about God making good on a previous statement regarding the Amalekites.
1 Samuel 15:2 ESV
2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt.
Turn to Deuteronomy 25:17-19
After many victories in the remainder of chapter 14, God commands Saul, through Samuel, to take care of some unfinished business from the Exodus.
Deuteronomy 25:17–19 ESV
17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, 18 how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.
God makes good on this promise.
Saul is now King and should execute this command because there is relative peace in the land.
Numbers 23:19 ESV
19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
So, God fulfills a promise by dealing harshly with the Amalekites and their treacherous ways.

Saul’s Disobedience

Now, lets deal with the deeper truth of the passage.
As many times as I have heard preaching and teaching on this passage, the focus is always on verse 22.
1 Samuel 15:22 ESV
22 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.
While I acknowledge that truth, obedience is preferred to sacrifice or repentance, I want us to focus on a deeper truth about obedience.

What was Saul’s disobedience?

He did not kill King Agag
He did not destroy the ox and sheep
He claims to have obeyed the Lord in verse 20.
He did not obey the Lord.
He got close, but close to keeping a command is not keeping it all.
I murdered someone, but I kept the other nine commands.
For us today the key is not his disobedience, but why he disobeyed.

Why did Saul disobey?

The answer to this question will help us begin to answer our main question.

What kind of courage is the hardest to find?

I believe our first clue is in verse 24, so look there in our passage.
1 Samuel 15:24 ESV
24 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.

Saul was afraid to go against the wishes of the people.

Let’s take a minute an rehearse what lead Saul to this moment of fear.
He was not courageous when God called on him to be king, he hid in the luggage. (10:22)
His Son, Jonathan, had been more a leader of the people in battle than he had. (13:3, 14:1-14)
As the enemy came against him, the people were leaving him and he decides to offer the sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel, presumably to get the people to stay for the battle. (13:12)
When Saul finally got courageous, he makes a foolish vow that leaves the people without food during the battle. (14:24)
When he tries to execute his son for breaking the vow, the people align with Jonathan instead of him. (14:43-45)

Every time Saul is faced with pressure from his people he chooses to disobey God to gain their favor!

Every time.
A man of God cannot fail to obey in the face of peer-pressure, or the pressure of the people God has given him to care for.
Obedience is required even when facing your own nation.
Peter Cartwright, a nineteenth-century, circuit-riding, Methodist preacher, was an uncompromising man. One Sunday morning when he was to preach, he was told that President Andrew Jackson was in the congregation. Cartwright was warned not to say anything out of line.
When Cartwright stood to preach, he said, ”I understand that Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he doesn’t repent."
The congregation was shocked and wondered how the president would respond. After the service, President Jackson shook hands with Peter Cartwright and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world."

Our Disobedience

Are we better than Saul?
Do we have trouble obeying God?

When do you find it hard to obey God?

When a boyfriend or girlfriend wants more out of the relationship than you can give based on obedience?
When your employer wants your worship time?
It takes courage to admonish someone who makes a racist statement, but it takes more courage to admonish a friend who does the same.
It takes courage to refuse to listen to gossip.
It takes courage to share Jesus. Are you always obedient?

It is not that Saul was completely void of courage.

Neither are we
We would fight to the death to protect our children
Some of you are ready to bear arms against our government

It is situational courage we lack at times.

So let’s ask the question:
What steals your courage?
Fear of relational backlash?
Fear of being labeled?
Here is what I believe is at the root of Saul’s lack of courage:

Does Saul agree with God?

When he looks at the option to withhold the animals from the people or obey God and force their destruction, he simply agrees with the people over God.
It’s easier, but it is also something he doesn’t see the harm in.
Sound familiar?

What if you don’t agree with God?

So many Christians claim obedience, but when you talk to them you hear the bleating of the sheep.
Sometimes we don’t even know it.
Let me through one at you, are you ready? I don’t think you are.
Romans 13:1–5 ESV
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
When are we allowed to resist the authorities?
Only when God’s laws are being violated.
Saul was violating God’s law because he didn’t see the harm in violating it.
It cost him the kingdom.
I wore a mask this morning before I came up here to sing and preach.
I made sure I was 6 feet away from Rosalie and Willa Mae.
Am I a shepherd following the command of Romans 13 or am I a sheep?
Saul’s punishment was revocation of his leadership, because he allowed the sin to be committed and was a party to it.
1 Samuel 15:9 ESV
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
Saul was leading the people in their violation of the command.
What are we to do?
Are we guilty of only following God’s law when we agree?
I am asking you to bow before Almighty God this morning with me and commit to Him to follow even when you don’t agree.
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